Wet Run. Humour me. Chicken dad needs help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MattyBowman, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. MattyBowman

    MattyBowman Chirping

    Sep 6, 2019
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    So after reading almost every shred of information on the site about this, I figured i'd weigh in with my questions to the Chicken gurus on the site.

    I live in the Pacific Northwest, in Victoria, B.C. Canada. We have a small dry coop for our 4 chickens that is well ventilated, roofed and dry with crushed wood pellets as bedding, so far so good there.

    My concerns are with the run. Let's do a back story: It is a metal 8X8 caged run with a tarp over the metal roof to keep off the rain, as it is now getting into rainy season. We use hay on the ground in the run for them to scratch around in and they seem to love it to bits. I change it weekly as it does get wet after a few days, so they get fresh dry hay every Saturday. They have spilled some feed out from their feeder and one pile go a little moldy that was underneath, so I raked and dug it off and sprayed the area as much as I could with white vinegar, covered the area in DE, and placed dry hay over the area. My question is, what issues is anyone seeing here. I try to keep dry as best I can with weekly hay changes, does the hay get damp, yes damp not soaking, is it muddy, no. Is there spilled food, a little, is it managed as best I can, yes, I rake it up and vinegar the area asap.

    Does anyone see any major health risks, or procedures I could be doing different to manage them. They all seem very healthy and happy. I just want to ensure my mold management and run care is okay. Again no issues with their coop. I just want to be the best chicken dad i can be, and need some advice, want to prevent any obvious diseases or health issues before they happen. Want to fix the chicken before the egg kinda thing here...see what I did there :)

    Thank you for your time on this one.


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    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Free Ranging

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    Hay isn't optimal for moisture management as it mats down when wet and then holds in the water. As long as your run location has adequate drainage, some variation on deep litter would work much better - a mix of plant materials (I use mainly dried leaves and grass) and wood chips/mulch of varied sizes, which will allow moisture to seep through while keeping the surface dry and requires little to no maintenance if done correctly.

    Below photo was taken after a heavy night's rainfall, from my unroofed run. Note that the larger chips are already relatively dry on the surface.

  3. ChickenWaterer

    ChickenWaterer Songster

    Aug 20, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
    The problem you have is with soil drainage. Here are a couple of options: Option 1 - If your run area is not too large, you might provide a roof over it so that rain and snow are never a problem. Option 2 -- cover the run floor in stone or bricks and then add straw on top so the chickens don't always stand on a hard surface all day long. Option 3 -- grade the soil so that rain water drains out of the run area. Option 4 -- cover the floor in straw and add more straw as it get's compacted. Option 4 is the easiest but it's also a temporary solution. You'll always be adding straw. Hope that helps.
  4. townchicks

    townchicks Free Ranging

    Dec 1, 2016
    Contra Costa county, Ca.
    Sounds like a lot of work. I use the deep litter method, wood chips, leaves, pine shavings and lawn clippings. Just dump it in a pile and let the chickens go to town. Add more as needed. Breaks down over time into good compost.
  5. ChickenWaterer

    ChickenWaterer Songster

    Aug 20, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
    Hi townchicks, it is a lot of work. I live in an area where the soil is mostly clay. I had the same problems as the original poster. When it rains, the water just pools up on our soil. I decided to both cover the run and lay down bricks because I have a relatively small flock and the area I needed to cover was modest. Doing all of this was a royal PITA but it solved the problem permanently.No mud. I throw down pine shavings on the stone to absorb the poop and periodically replace them. The old shavings and poop get composted and placed in the garden.
  6. MattyBowman

    MattyBowman Chirping

    Sep 6, 2019
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Thank you all for the input and taking the time to coach me with your experience! It’s means a lot for taking the time to help with rad advice! Cheers!
  7. slordaz

    slordaz hatchaholic

    Apr 15, 2015
    The problem with using hay is it doesn't absorb the moisture and molds, then it can become toxic to your chickens along with the feed getting spilled and molding can cause botulism. for feed if you can get it up a bit higher so they don't spill as much, I would think either putting sand and gravel would help some with drainage, or cover it and put a little drain pipe into a gutter to make the water go elsewhere. just my thoughts and it is up to you as flock master of your flock to decide what works best for you and your flock, good luck.
  8. MROO

    MROO Crossing the Road

    Since you're in this for the long haul, I do have a suggestion. Deep litter is definitely a good way to go. but not with straw/hay. As pointed out already, it gets wet (and heavy) and can harbor all sorts of bacteria & bugs. My smaller run has a wetness issue, too, and I solved it by using its' low sides (it's an old playhouse with a sandbox underneath it) to hold a base layer of sand and fine gravel. I've built up deep litter on top, almost to the upper edge of the sandbox sides, so there's plenty of soil over the drainage layer. Some things that get layered in are pine bark chips, grass cuttings and any wood shavings from the coop that aren't too heavily soiled, as needed to build up the compost layer.

    So far, so good. I do occasional spot-cleans and raking from time-to-time, but leave most of the detritus in the run. By Winter, it's built up far enough to keep tender toes out of the snow & ice. And when it's time for a good Spring clean-out, I have a nice load of compost for the back gardens ... and a fresh start for next year's batch!
  9. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

    Apr 9, 2014
    N. California
    Some hay is fine, but I second the idea of mixing in some materials that handle moisture differently. I've found pine needles and fallen leaves are great additions to low muddy areas in my chickens' yard. This time of year they should be readily available where you live.
  10. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Crowing

    Feb 19, 2017
    Charlotte, NC
    Like @townchicks said, your working to hard. My run is covered and I use deep litter over red clay. I haven't cleaned my run out in three years, I just add to it. No smell, flies or water issues. Any water that gets in, seeps down through the deep litter. I'm thinking of taking some of the black gold soil that the deep litter creates and putting it in my garden this fall. I also have a compost pile ready, so I'll see if I need to use the run soil also, if not it will stay put and I'll add to the run as needed.

    deep litter run.jpg

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