The run has recently turned to mud, although its not slushy, But the chooks do seem to be having mucky feet a lot of the time,
They do have a shed with a tiled floor to run round in, which i keep filling with lawn clippings, and they are compacting that down, which does clean their feet and keep them a bot warmer.
But the run is uncovered and about 9m long by 1.5 - 2 metres wide, they have 24 hour access to the run, (they do also get to free range outside of the run but our newer chickens are master escapoligists so they are only free ranging when we can watch)
Any low cost suggestions? to fix this
Wondering this myself.
Here's what NOT to do: I put down untreated pine boards raised a little off the ground, like pallets, but feed gets down under them and now the rats have a thoroughfare under them! I have finally got a decent rat trap.
I have a similar problem in winter with my small run. I let my chooks out for a garden winter holiday when the garden is at it's worst and they can't destroy much. That gives their run a bit of a break and the rest of the garden is de-bugged :-). I also find putting a bale of straw into their run in fall works (or in your case probably two). At fist they just sit on it, but as it rots down they figure out that there are worms in it and pull it apart. As they kick the straw around it helps absorb the mud. I also toss any weeds from the garden in. Again that encourages them to scratch around and the run becomes more like a compost heap and less like a mud pool. Once a while when the soil level gets too high I'll shovel it out and toss it in the real compost. It's amazing how many earth worms there are in it in spite of the chooks.
hello Nigel, not much help for this winter but a friend dries all her rosemary and lavender prunings and spreads it in her chook run and under their perches. On the odd occasion that I help her clean out the hen house it makes the job much more pleasant. You could ask all your friends to start saving their lavender and rosemary for you.
I have the same problem every year, this year I have let them out into the orchard to free range and it isn't nearly as bad as it could be. But I am about to lock them up into their breeding groups so it will quickly become foul muck again. I have found that the following work somewhat, depending upon how much rain you get. Wood shavings - very effective, needs to be a couple of inches thick, lasts several weeks. Pine needles even better and free. Straw - less effective but gives them something to do. A cheap tarp from Major Hardware store as a temporary roof - most effective stops them getting wet stops the mud BUT can rip in winds and scare them if it flaps about, can sag in the middle and fill with water (then burst in a single massive deluge, usually when you are standing directly underneath trying to clear the water away ;-)) , needs to be replaced every couple of years and is not recyclable.
With any of the mulch options it is best to dig it all out once dry in summer and add it to the compost heap and start again on clean earth otherwise the very next time it rains it turns to smelly muck again. So having easy access into the run is also important.
Don't use shredded paper - it gets in the nesting boxes and sticks to the eggs...
Have the same problem with a bigger area, and it is slushy! I have been putting lawn clippings and leaves, etc, there, but that's a temporary fix... I have also bought a bag of mulch, which I use in their enclosed run (other space is too big, unless I find a cheaper source). Prefer leaf mulch type to bark because whatever I use is going to end up in the food bowl. Hope someone else has some brilliant idea! :-)
I found the best thing was tree shreddings that I bought for mulch. I use the main part of the chicken run as a giant compost area, and through in a lot of weeds from the garden. It has worked better this year when I included the tree mulch. It is usually not too expensive, lasts better than straw, hay, weeds and grass clippings, doesn't pack down like the above but when they are added to the mulch it gets better. I will turn it over from time to time if it gets packed down too much, to encourage the hens to scratch it over. I get a good supply of compost, and it provides a lot of protein for the hens as it breaks down and becomes populated with worms, earwigs etc. Other things you could add are any untreated wood shavings and autumn leaves a great, but break down quickly.
The other long term suggestion is to grow trees that suck up moisture in the run. I know it is narrow but I have used banana for wet areas. If you get too frost prone maybe a mulberry, as it can be pruned hard, and supposed to be good chock food, though I haven't notice my hens eat a lot of them.
I must admit that the hens do have a larger orchard to run in, but their main run was unfortunately put in one of the wetter parts of the section.
Hi Nigel. The wet spring continues and so does the muddy run problem! I just wrote about a possible solution on my Keeping Chickens NZ facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KeepingChickensNZ). Basically, chuck in as much organic matter as you can.