smelly, wet run- sand?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by T-Amy, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. T-Amy

    T-Amy Chirping

    Sep 16, 2011
    Woodhull, NY
    I've seen some posts that folks put a few inches of (play?) sand in their runs to help with drainage. Do you just use standard play sand or gravel or what?

    i hate taking people over there on a wet day as they tend not to want to wear clothes-pins on their noses so I need to come up with something to help control the run skeevey smell.

    it's not an option to cover that part of it (can't support the winter snow we'll be getting).

    Do you need to periodically remove the sand & replace it like the sawdust inside the coop (for the love of God please say no; what a nightmare THAT would be!).

    Any tips to control the smell, actually both inside the coop & the run would be great. I've been doing this 6 mos & the worst part of being a chicken momma is my kid's smell!

  2. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Songster

    May 28, 2011
    Foothills of NC
    I think sand is useless in the run but works well in the coop. I recommend pine bark chips or other mulch and you could even have a not to thick layer of gravel underneath.
  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Crowing

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Any tips to control the smell,

    Ag Lime will help with odors.
    Sand will help too since it only stinks when wet

    If your coop stinks you may need more ventilation​
  4. ChickenAl

    ChickenAl Diagnosis...Chicken-Headed

    Jun 5, 2011
    Putnam cty, NY
    We have sand I'm the run too and it will stink when wet. When it's wet I put a layer of pine shavings on top and that seems to help a lot.

    The sand we use is coarse construction sand. Play sand is kind of fine and may not drain well. I did toss some fine gravel in there too to help with the drainage. Also, a little DE might be a good idea too.

    If a run is not covered then you have to expect some sort of smell when it rains. The key is getting it to dry out as quickly as possible. The sand seems to be the best thing we've used, so far. I don't think there is a perfect material to use in a run. Trial and error with different materials is what you will find to be the best for your chickens and the area in which you live.

  5. allpeepedout

    allpeepedout Songster

    Mar 2, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    Keeping things dry seems key, or sans that, removing poo regularly.

    If you are up for a long-term fix, you might experiment with an equestrian solution that helps with odor and wetness in stall and turnout areas. It is work: excavate (dig) out the top layer of soil/muck until you reach a firm base, hopefully clay, and pack so it drains away from the run (for high volumes of water, dig in french drain). Add a few inches of packed gravel, and top with a few inches of packed "stone dust" (this is coarse agricultural lime like spread on fields, NOT powdered garden lime, which can be caustic unless you get it very well dispersed). This will make a solid base that should harden up eventually and drain out of the run. Top part or all of the area with softer footing (sand? or organic material) that you rake or change out periodically, if organic. The stone dust based is limestone that helps deodorize, and because its texture is somewhat sandy, I would think the chickens should scratch it up a bit to mix with footing and poo. They still need a separate real-dirt dust bath area, of course!
  6. T-Amy

    T-Amy Chirping

    Sep 16, 2011
    Woodhull, NY
    thanks for the input- I like hearing what works for everyone. We have an indoor coop that they seem to prefer to poop in (lovely)- I've tried using several inches of wood shavings & thinner layers but I see no choice but to have to clean it out a couple times weekly. I have friends who only have a few chickens & so their clean up is a lot easier than our 20. But, it still has a smell to it. we have a window open 8" at all times, the coop opening (12"x12") open all the time & the doors are open all day. I can put the other window in though as I think that will help.
    We do have a new dry run that's covered where they can dust-bathe (8'x32') in addition to the open run (8'x32' where 1/2 of it is under the shed/coop so that's covered).
    Hopefully now that they have the covered coop area, it will help. I wish I could let them free-range more but unless I'm out there with them, I don't like them foraging. Even when I was with them once, they went down near the woods (~40' from me) & something snatched one of my girls.
    I'd like to prepare the run for something better than what we have prior to increasing our flock so all ideas help.
    And yes, the ground underneath is clay. Let me speak with 'the boss' & see if we can make some of these ideas happen!
    Thanks all- keep 'em coming!
  7. lorihadams

    lorihadams Songster

    Sep 17, 2008
    Do you have access to leaf litter? I had a similar situation and I found that piling leaves inside the run about 3 ft deep, I know it sounds ridiculous but the birds will mulch it up in about a week, really helped. It seemed that it created a nice mulch and instead of removing it I just kept adding more leaf litter on it every month for the birds to scratch through. If it gets too smelly then you can just pull some out and put it in the compost pile and add more leaves. Sprinkling some lime every once and a while will help it too. I never had to though.

    Oh, if drainage is an issue and you end up with standing water you may want to drill some holes in the run and fill them with gravel to help with the runoff. Dig down about 8-12 inches and fill with gravel in several of the low spots and that may help with the water issue...I live in VA and have issues with red clay as well.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

  8. T-Amy

    T-Amy Chirping

    Sep 16, 2011
    Woodhull, NY
    Thanks Lori- Yes, we have leaves--- to the tune of about 100 acres worth. I have to scrouch in that section of the run so adding & removing gravel/leaves, etc or having to spend too much time in there is not a favorite pasttime... so, anything that reduces the need to do that would be great.
    water doesn't really 'pool' in there per say, it just gets icky & they waller through each other's poo. I've seen where some folks let their birdies walk on chicken wire but that looks uncomfy to me & doesn't allow them to scratch like they like to do.
  9. Stephanie739

    Stephanie739 Songster

    Oct 7, 2011
    I forgot I have a pallet with an old piece of OSB board on top that was left over from when my dogs used my kennel (now my chicken run). I had the doghouse sitting on it, but it had been covered by hay, grass clippings, leaves, etc. We got A LOT of rain last night, and I realized this old wood really helped limit the mud. I think I will use some more, rather than sand for now (my neighbor has a pallet, already told me to help myself to what I need and OSB is cheap). I shovelled off some muck and hosed the wood down this morning once the rain stopped.

  10. Mr. Ree

    Mr. Ree Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    South Central, KY
    Quote:One major thing you can do is stop using sawdust in your coop. Its not good for the birds or yourself. It will create ALOT of dust in your coop as well if it is not ventilated very well. White pine shavings are what I use for my birds. It smells really nice, and it helps keep my birds clean. It masks some of the smells chickens can have as well.


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