As a chicken owner, creating a comfortable and safe living space for my flock is a top priority. That’s why when it comes to choosing a flooring material for my coop and run, I’ve opted for construction sand. However, I’ve been pondering whether to add sand immediately or wait for my chickens to finish eating the grass. In this article, I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of adding sand to a grass run and the best way to clean the run.
Benefits of Adding Sand to a Grass Run
There are several reasons why adding sand to a grass run is beneficial for both you and your chickens. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Improved Drainage: Grass is a natural absorber of moisture, but it can lead to muddy conditions in the run after rainfall. Adding a layer of construction sand can improve drainage and prevent muddy conditions, which is beneficial for the health of your chickens’ feet.
- Reduced Odor: Chicken manure is a great source of nitrogen, but it can also produce an unpleasant odor. When combined with sand, the manure dries out more quickly, reducing the likelihood of odor buildup. This is especially important if your run is located near your home or other areas where people congregate.
- Easier Clean-Up: Cleaning a grass run can be a hassle, as the grass can trap feces and other debris. With a layer of sand, cleaning the run becomes a breeze. Simply use a rake or shovel to remove any solid waste and stir the sand to help the manure dry out and break down more quickly.
- Reduced Parasites: Parasites, such as mites and lice, can thrive in grass and other organic materials. Adding sand to the run creates an inhospitable environment for these pests, which can reduce their numbers and prevent infestations.
When to Add Sand to a Grass Run
While there are many benefits to adding sand to a grass run, the timing of when to add it can be tricky. There are two main approaches: adding sand immediately or waiting for the chickens to eat the grass first.
- Adding Sand Immediately: If you have a newly constructed coop and run, adding sand immediately can be a good idea. This will help prevent muddy conditions and reduce the risk of parasites and odor buildup. However, if you do this, be sure to provide your chickens with plenty of feed and water so that they don’t rely on the grass as their only food source.
- Waiting for the Chickens to Eat the Grass: If your run is already covered in grass, you can choose to wait for your chickens to eat it before adding sand. This can help reduce the amount of waste you’ll need to clean up and provide your chickens with some added nutrients from the grass. However, keep in mind that chickens can be picky eaters, and they may not eat all the grass before you need to add sand.
How to Clean a Grass Run
Cleaning a grass run can be a bit more challenging than cleaning a sand run, but it’s still an essential part of keeping your chickens healthy and comfortable. Here are some tips for cleaning a grass run.
- Remove Solid Waste: The first step in cleaning a grass run is to remove any solid waste. Use a rake or shovel to collect any droppings or debris.
- Rake the Grass: Use a rake to gather up the grass and debris, and pile it in a compost bin or designated area. Be sure to rake deeply, as chicken feces can penetrate deep into the soil.
- Water the Grass: Once the grass is raked, use a hose or watering can to saturate the grass with water. This will help to break down any remaining waste and encourage the grass to grow back quickly.
- Repeat as Necessary: Depending on the size of your run and the number of chickens you have, you may need to repeat this process weekly or bi-weekly to keep the run clean and healthy.
In summary, adding sand to a grass run has several benefits, including improved drainage, reduced odor, and reduced parasite infestations. The timing of when to add sand depends on your specific situation, but both immediate addition and waiting for the chickens to eat the grass have their advantages. When it comes to cleaning a grass run, removing solid waste, raking the grass, and watering it are key steps to keeping your chickens happy and healthy.