The floor in the run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Auroradream26, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    I've been trying to figure out what to do with the floor in our run when we build it. The coop will be 5 x 10 ft, 2 ft up of the ground. The run will be attached and roofed 10 x 10 ft plus the space under the coop. I've heard of people just letting the dirt be the floor and others throwing down wood shavings or sand. What do you recommend and why and the best way to keep it cleaned?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Wood shavings aren't going to work well outdoors. Most people probably leave it dirt, especially if it doesn't get muddy (it should be in a well drained location.). The chickens will eat all the grass quickly. I see more and more people using sand as it is easy to scoop poop out of, and drains well, though it really needs a barrier around it to keep the sand from washing away.
     
  3. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    Ok, maybe we'll just leave it dirty then. It's already a dirty patch sheltered by a bunch of trees and water doesn't really pool there. But how does that work? Do you have to poop scoop it like you do with dogs? Lol, I know that sounds like a dumb question but I'm a complete newbie lol
     
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    A lot of people are moving to deep litter in their runs to create habitat and better soil conditions underfoot. This area will soon be compacted and the soils saturated with high concentrations of nitrogen from the fecal matter and this leads to unhealthy soils that are not balanced and cannot cleanse itself due to soil compaction and loss of root systems to provide drainage and nutrient absorption. Soon it will be a stinking, slimy mess when it rains and in the summer time, attracting flies and the worst sort of bacteria and molds.

    Deep litter can help keep the soils under the litter loose and absorptive, while the carbon in the materials of the litter helps bind the nitrogen for better use of this element. The litter also provide habitat for the bugs and worms that would feed on the manure, thereby changing it into something the soil can utilize. The worms and bugs tunneling up out of the soil into the litter also helps to keep the soil from compacting and helps with drainage of water. All these things also keep the soil culture balanced so that harmful pathogens can't get a foothold in the soils and proliferate there. It cuts down on smell and flies and uses the feces as part of a composting process that can help keep the soils rich and abundant with a thriving source of nutrition and good health.

    Creating this habitat for the run also improves the health of the birds as they are kept occupied hunting in the litter for the bugs and worms, they also are consuming healthy bacteria to aid in digestion and in the prevention of some intestinal illnesses. It has the added benefit of never needing to be cleaned...the rains will wash the feces into the litter and the bugs and worms will do the rest.

    Some are also building grow frames in this area that can benefit from the enriched nutrients of the soil and can provide a more healthy diet for the chickens, as well as providing more habitat for bugs to hide and reproduce.

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    You can also create areas of interest in your run for the birds that involves placing hay bales here and there for them to perch upon and to also attract earthworms. Every once in awhile you can move the bales and there will be a bounty of earthworms lying just beneath the bale for them to feed upon. You can also use rocks or stumps for this. The birds enjoy different levels of being in their living area, so stumps, roosts, rocks and bales all give them the feel of being outside and gives them places to get away from the other birds.

    Creating a dedicated dusting place is also a good idea in a run..underneath your coop would be ideal because it would stay dry at all times. You can add dusting items that would help them stay parasite free like lime or wood ashes or powdered clay and build a box around the area so that the dust would not get kicked out of the fenced area. Some use old tires or kiddie pools to contain the dusting materials.

    With all these different components in your run, your birds can stay healthier, have an additional and healthy food source, stay occupied and get exercise, have a way to rid themselves of parasites and have a habitat.... instead of a jail.
     
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  5. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    Thanks beekissed. Will that still work well if the entire run is roofed? When we build, we were planning on extending the roof from the coop to cover the entire run also. Love the hay bale idea and wood ash under the coop is a great idea. We always have a ton of it as we burn in the fireplace and in the fire pit in the summer.
    This is the area well be building in.
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  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It works well when people use it in coops so there's no reason why it shouldn't work well in your covered run. You'll still have moisture from the soils when it rains, with runoff and from blowing into the sides of the run. Your place there looks like it already has some rich soils from forest debris, so I'd just add to it by raking up leaves, twigs, pine needles, etc. and keep piling it in there.

    You might want to leave one end of your run uncovered just so your birds can get in some sun bathing...it's important for them and their health, for parasite control and for their well being. It would also be a great place for your grow frames so they could have some natural forage. If you don't want to leave it uncovered they have some neat clear fiberglass roofing panels now that can still shelter while providing natural sunlight.

    If using deep litter in the run you might want to place a board around the base of the run to contain materials inside the run. Some place hardware wire at the base of the run anyway and this too can serve the same purpose of not letting the litter get kicked out of the run when the chickens scratch around in it.
     
  7. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    I forgot to mention, our hens will get to free range all day (as long as we're home). Would we still need to leave a section of the pen unroofed? Also, can we just use leaves and pine needles or do we have to use wood shavings? Our property is bordered by acres of state game lands so leaves and pine needles are what we have a surplus of lol
     
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict


    That's good!! In that case, they can get their sun outside! Yes, you can use whatever lawn and forest debris you find and many are finding the more diverse the materials the better the litter. No need to buy shavings when you have the best materials for free.
     
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  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I love these grazing frames from TheGardenCoop.com!!!
     
  10. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Some good ideas above. Certainly, management is a lot easier with lots of space, which free ranging provides. Mine have a large feced yard which weeds and trees grow in; we even have to mow it some. I certainly don't remove the poop from it, no need.
     

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