Straw "Keeps It Dry"

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by PepsNick, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. PepsNick

    PepsNick Back to Business

    May 9, 2010
    Egglanta, GA
    I put down some straw last week and it started off to look great. The chickens enjoyed it and kept it nice and neat. This was it last week.

    Now, after one light rainfall, the run is smelly, horid, soaking wet, nasty and muddy. GAH! Does sand really work well to keep it dry?? I've been wanting to put it down for a while now but haven't found the time. I'm thinking some nice gravel-like sand?
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  2. Bleenie

    Bleenie Wyan-DO's

    I put sand down in my coop a couple years ago and the poo just piled up on top of it, it didn't drain very well and held puddles in spots and then when i did clean it out and turned it it STUNK something fierce!! I started using shavings on top of the sand and it helped soak up a lot of smell, poo and water(and it's biodegradable!).

    My run is covered and I now use only straw and it does stay dry, but if it wasn't tarped it would be a wet mess. I had to stop using shavings because of the cost and the ducks like straw more.
  3. sklr112

    sklr112 Out Of The Brooder

    May 23, 2010
    Do you put straw in your coop as well??
  4. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    We live where there is heavy rainfall and it is a problem. We tried shavings, straw and sand. Each had its bad points.

    In summer, sand is the way to go. Since there are spells when it can dry out, the chickens scratch it up. We did have to make sure that our chicken run had excellent drainage and had to move a lot of dirt around to accomplish that, or else it did stink.

    In winter, the sand/poo mix just gets to be a sloggy mess. We first tried adding shavings. This did nothing in our climate, it lasts about an hour and then packs down wet and sloggy.

    So we tried straw. At first it is wonderful, like your picture, but it does get slogged down. We just add more straw. Don't make such a thick layer, you just need a thin layer put down more frequently. After awhile, the chickens kind of packed down the dirt and I don't have to put down much straw is like an adobe patio.

    When spring comes, we dug all that out and put it on the compost pile, and we will go back to sand. This time I was thinking of putting gravel down first and then sand to help make a drainage field.

    With our amount of rainfall, the drainage was the issue, not which type of material used.

    I hope relating my experiences is helpful to you.
  5. Bleenie

    Bleenie Wyan-DO's

    Inside the coop, I use Stall Pellets first and then a thin layer of straw on the top to make it softer on their feet and for them to use when they go broody, my ducks like to pull all kinds of stuff into their nests.
    Quote:Drainage is a big issue here in Western Washington but thankfully my coop run is on a slope so everything runs out into the lower pasture area. the sand held water in though and washed away in a few spots. I think gravel would be a good thing to use as far as keeping it dry, I would go with smoother gravel though, so it doesnt hurt the birds feet.

    I may do that when I build a new duck coop but I will probably still use straw in part of it because my brats are spoiled. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You might check out my 'fixing a muddy run' page (link in .sig below) which addresses the problem of 'gah, my straw-filled run is all nasty now!'.

    If you want to put in something inorganic, it will last the best if you can do it onto DRY ground -- whatever you put in now on muddy ground, a lot will disappear. But that leaves you with the choice of wasting some of your sand/gravel by doing it now, or limping along with band-aid fixes (remove and replace straw or other organic materials as frequently as necessary) until summer. Your choice.

    For sand or gravel, the best thing is to call local aggregate companies (gravel suppliers) or, if you lack them, call landscaping companies, and get quotes on a suitable number of cubic yards of various materials so you can decide what would be the best compromise between price and function. Around here, a really good thing for this purpose is roadbase (which is a dirt/sand/gravel/small-rocks mix used for road foundations and gravel roads) which is the cheapest aggregate you can buy; but it can be different in different regions so you would probably want to see a sample first.

    Good luck, have fun,


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