SO much mud in my roofless run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MESOFRUFFEH, Mar 17, 2016.


    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    I have been doing some researching but everything seems to be aimed more towards people who have runs that are covered. I have two pens that don't free range with the rest of the chickens, one is a bachelor pad and the other is my Silkie pen. They have one of those metal storage buildings for a coop, but the rest of the run is not covered. We have netting over the run, but no roof. I live on a hill and usually it's not a huge issue, but this last year we have had LOTS of flooding in the area, just last week we got 8 inches in a little over a 24 hours period. It looked like a river in my back yard. And unfortunately, my coop is not in a very good spot. Not that I had many other options... but needless to say, we have mud in these two runs. SO MUCH MUD. And since these two pens do not free range, I gotta do something. We recently dug a drainage ditch to divert the water from just flowing down into the run like a waterfall, but the ground is just so saturated anyways that it does not make much difference in the long run. I have been using pallets in the muddiest part of their run so that they at least have a dry surface to hang out on. But that is not really a long term solution.

    I keep reading about shavings and mulch for a deep litter in the run to help get rid of stink and keep the chickens out of the mud and still allow them to scratch around. From what I read it sounded like most everyone had a covered run tho, so it was not raining directly on top of this deep litter they were using. So my question is: Does anyone know what I could put down in a run that is NOT covered, that would help shield them from the mud but still be okay to get rained on? I don't want to put down a bunch of stuff only to find out that I have made a big mistake lol.

    I have about 30 bags of red lava rock I bought for a project a few years ago and decided to do something different, so I have been trying to find a place to use the lava rock for ages, but I just don't think rock is going to help my situation any as the rocks would just get smooshed down into the mud. There used to be a barrier of railroad ties around the run, but the rain has washed enough dirt down the hill that the top of the tie is level with the dirt now. I have even thought about making a retaining wall, but I am afraid the water will continue to do what it does now and seep up from below. Even if I add more soil to the run to elevate it, I feel like it will all get washed down hill.

    Any comments or suggestions are welcomed. If needed I can try to take some pics of the run later. Thanks!
  2. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you have access, put down wood chips.

    Lots of wood chips, like 12" or more.

    The top will dry quickly, the bottom will not matter.
  3. Sutremaine

    Sutremaine Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2014
    Put up a roof, it'll be so much nicer and very much not a mistake.

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    Do you happen to know if it will get really moldy and stuff? What about keeping the top fresh, just let the water run thru the chips and do its thing? Or will it turn into one big turd cake?

    Unfortunately, I really am not 100% certain a roof would even solve my problem or else I'd have already put one up. Like I said, they are at the bottom of the hill and the water was falling into their pen like a waterfall, A roof won't stop that. We dug some drainage ditches and diverted the water, but even days after it stops raining and everything else has dried back up, the little "river" still trickles through the ditches, and you can see the water seeping up from the ground in their run for a week after it stops raining. We have been breaking flood records in my neck of the woods here lately, things that have never been a problem in the past are now a problem.

    So my issue is more what can I use to cover the mud and make a barrier between feet and mud that won't get horribly moldy, won't smell to high heavens, wont form a big turd patty, and won't wash away easily down the hill, PLUS can handle being rained on from above. We are out in the country, so smell is not THAT big of an issue, but I would like for it to not smell like it currently does in their run since it never seems to dry out completely before it rains again. I can handle an earthy smell, but this is not earthy it's just funky. [​IMG]
  5. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you have funky odors, you have excess nitrates.

    Wood chips are carbons, they have an earthy odor when decomposing.

    The birds will love turning and digging in the wood chips.

    Go deep...make a hill of chips.

    This is deep litter with excess carbons to balance out the excess nitrites now causing your foul odors.

    If the chips become muddy, you didn't go deep enough.
    1 person likes this.
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm in the PNW, lots of rain this year. I have a large uncovered run.

    Right now, you're looking at damage control. The drainage ditches are a good start. I agree the wood chips will be your best bet for the rest of the season. Pile them deep, try for about a foot or so. At this point you're looking to elevate your birds out of the mud and that should do the trick.

    When the warm, dry months come, you may want to do some re-evaluation. I'm a fan of decomposed granite. We used to have horrible mud issues with our horse paddocks. A few loads of the dg and they've been on solid footing all winter. I plan to do that (or possibly cement, we'll see) for the chicken pens at our new place. Building up a little from the surrounding area helps a lot, and then running a deep litter type bedding on top of that is the best way to go. Diverting any water flow possible with ditches or downspouts helps a lot also.

    You might also check with your county extension agency. Ours offers a mud management course, they can probably offer some specifics for your particular area.
    1 person likes this.

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    Thanks guys, I was afraid of putting wood chips in for fear of them smelling as bad as the mud, but that makes sense for them to help break down everything. I think I will start trying to locate some wood chips... any suggestions for buying in bulk? @RonP What type of wood chips should I look for? Any specific types to avoid?
  8. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    In my area, the utility company hires tree trimmers to clear the branches.

    I usually get a mix of hard and softwood.

    Try not to get cedar if you want compost, as it lasts forever...

    When in need, I have them dump a load for free.

    Wood chips around 12 to 18 inches deep will take a few years to decompose utilizing just the chicken manure for a nitrogen source.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  10. TandraG

    TandraG New Egg

    Jun 20, 2015
    I had the same problem here, too. Our hens scratched up and cleared all the grass and weeds from their run last summer and then every time it rained (basically every day here in Florida), it'd turn into a muddy mess. The first thing we did was cut back anything shading the run -- sawgrass, weeds, and part of an oak tree -- so that there was more sunlight to help it dry faster. Everything we cut down was thrown into the pen so the girls could scratch through it. It also adds organic material back into the soil, lifting it up to prevent flooding and improving drainage. It's been about six months since we tossed down a layer of sawgrass and weeds about 8" deep and they've scratched and pecked it to almost nothing. There's good, dry dirt in the area now that's good for dust bathing on sunny days. Anything you chop down in your yard can be used to make a good bedding to keep them up out of the mud. When we trimmed the oak, we threw whole branches inside. They went nuts eating the leaves and then perched on the bare branches.

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