Rainy seasons are necessary but what do we do with the resulting muddy chicken run? Are you tired of muddy eggs, messy coop floors and slippery chicken run? Whynnie has some advice from the coop in her latest diary entry.
Whynnie keeps a diary. A lot of times her writings are very helpful to us as we try to care for the flock. Here’s the latest!
Our dear Mother Nature has it a little messed up this year. The saying goes, “April showers bring May Flowers”. This year she has sent us May showers. It is actually more than showers and I am tired of my beautiful black and white feathers getting wet. The humans are quite perturbed. I almost feel sorry for them. Usually, I don’t because we are here doing all the work. Laying eggs, digging up bugs and worms, and various other gardening chores and all they do is stop by to watch us work. We toil and they take the eggs and run. But that’s not the point. They are trying to give us a dry chicken run around our coop but the rains just keep falling. Rain on top of dirt makes mud, eventually. Add in a little chicken poo that isn’t cleaned up and wham, you have some potent mud. Some of us don’t mind the mud. Other’s run through it quickly to get out for free range time and then run back into the coop full speed. And yet we still track in big globs of mud on our feet. Let me write down some suggestions in hope that the humans will see this notebook while snooping, I mean cleaning the coop.
What causes the mud– rain that sits on top of dirt. And then more rain. It’s been raining a lot of days lately.
Drainage issues– When the ground in the chicken area builds up with bedding, dirt, spilled feed, straw, etc. It should be regraded and returned to a somewhat gentle slope towards the downward side of the yard. Natural drainage should be worked with when ever possible. Some folks use a tiller to stir up the dirt and make it drain better. If they start making a whole lot of racket with that thing I can guarantee we won’t produce any eggs that day!
Run off – directing the run off away from other pens, and areas where it can cause more damage is important.
Grading issues– Often grading issues are to blame for muddy coops. In our coop, the yard has a lot of built up bedding both from mulch and straw and from the coop itself being cleaned out. We love to sift though the leftover bedding but if it’s left on the ground for long, it builds up. Re-grading is a big job but after a few years of the coop staying in one spot, it may need to be done.
Possible Fixes for a Muddy Chicken Run
trenches to divert the water
stone for filtering
regrade the area
fill material – adding well draining material to low areas to keep water from accumulating will help avoid standing water issues.
straw – Adding a layer of clean straw to the chicken run, cleans off our chicken feet before we walk back into the coop. Adding a nice nest of soft straw to the laying boxes will also help keep the eggs cleaner.
elevated board walk– The humans here have used pallets with the boards close together, and also wide plank boards as a platform for the chickens to walk on before entering the coop.
pine chips– occasionally the humans find a tree service that has some fresh pine tree grindings. I love his. The ground up trees smell so good, and we get a snack too. Pine needles are a healthy treat that helps our respiratory tract health.
Wood chips– not the fine sawdust. The squarish chunks of wood sometimes used on playgrounds.
Bales of pine needles– Our human recently found a local supply for bales of pine needles. These are more common in certain parts of the country than others. This is a great cover for muddy chicken runs.
What Not to Use in a Muddy Chicken Run
I have seen pine shavings and sawdust used on top of the run but this rarely works out well. The shavings just don’t stick around and the problem is often worse after these things are added to a muddy chicken run.
After the Rains End
This the hard part, where I almost feel sorry for the humans. They try to push the mud to the sides of the chicken run. It sure looks like hard work. We did dig out the trenches along the fence line looking for bugs so they try to push the mud back into the trenches. This does help the ground we walk on. Then they bring in more straw or pine needles for the walking area. Of course we have to scratch them out of the way. But they try. It’s all we can ask I guess. It helps to not add the soft shavings from inside the coop into the chicken run. Also, we are glad to have some outside roost bars that we can perch on under a tarp so we don’t have to stand around in the mud.
Leaving the mud to accumulate makes everyone cranky. The flies seem to enjoy the mud a lot which is kind of annoying because we don’t like them very much. It really is best for everyone if the mud is either controlled or taken care of somehow. That’s how we think you should take care of a muddy chicken run.