I set up a run for my chickens so that they can move around in safety and without destroying my garden. All was well until the rains fell.
As the rains fell, the chicken run became soggy and muddy. It was so bad that I had to wear gumboots when going to collect eggs from their coop.
It was no better in the coop as the chickens would drag the mud with their legs into the coop. This would make the bedding wet and the eggs dirty.
The good news is a muddy chicken coop run can be fixed using several methods. These include coop design for drainage, trenches, wood chippings, pine pellets, construction sand, sandbags, horse manure, and biochar.
The idea is to keep the chicken run well-drained and dry in a cost-effective way using what is readily available.
Before we look at how to fix the muddy coop run, let us look at the disadvantages of a muddy chicken run
Table of Contents
- 0.1 Is mud OK for chickens?
- 1 How to Fix Muddy Coop Runs
Is mud OK for chickens?
Mud is not okay for chickens. A muddy chicken run poses several risks to your chickens and family. These include slipping, breeding ground for pathogens, dirty eggs, and foot diseases
A wet muddy chicken run will be slippery. This can make you slip and fall, leading to injuries. You do not want to spend weeks unable to move while nursing injuries from the chicken coop. The pain might make you dislike the idea of keeping chickens.
Chickens in muddy chicken runs will also make chicken ramps and roost slippery as they move in and out of the coop. These can make your birds slip and injure themselves. You do not what your chickens to break their legs.
Blocked Chicken Door
A muddy chicken run can clog the chicken door grooves making it hard to close. This is more so for automated chicken doors and sliding chicken doors that have grooves, Chickens will drag mud with their feet and feathers as they get in and out of the coop.
Some of this mud will block the path for doors. An automated chicken coop door or sliding door will not close if there are obstacles on its path. Predators will make an easy meal of your chickens if they find the door open at night.
Breeding Ground for Pathogens
Pathogens are disease-causing organisms and they thrive in wet places. A muddy chicken run is the ideal breeding ground for all manner of viruses and bacteria. This includes naturally occurring bacteria in chickens that only pose a danger when they multiply.
Viruses like the Bird Flu and bacteria like Salmonella will multiply and live longer in a muddy environment.
A muddy chicken run will result in eggs that are dirty from the mud. Even if your chickens are laying eggs in clean nesting boxes inside the coop, the eggs will still get muddied when chickens drag along mud on their feet and feathers into the nesting boxes.
Muddy chickens’ eggs compromise the protective bloom that prevents bacteria from getting into the egg. This makes the eggs not safe for consumption since bacteria like Salmonella might have gotten into the eggs.
Muddy chicken eggs will have low hatchability and are not suitable for incubation, whether naturally or in an incubator.
The diseases causing organisms in a muddy chicken run might lead to your chickens getting foot diseases such as bumblefoot. These are painful and negatively affect the production of your chickens. Diseases like bubble foot take time to treat.
A muddy chicken run is simply unhygienic. It is dirty with water, mud, and chicken dropping mixing into a smelly off-putting slurry. You will not like being near such a chicken run and your chickens will not like it either.
How to Fix Muddy Coop Runs
I ended up putting stones and gravel on my chicken run in order to deal with the mud issue. This raised the ground level allowing water to drain away without collecting on the run.
There are several other ways of fixing a muddy coop run.
Chicken Run Design That Incorporates Drainage
The first method is the design of the chicken run. When designing the chicken run, it is important to select the location with drainage in mind. Do not place your coop and run where water will collect.
If the location of the coop has to be somewhere where water collects, it is important to raise the ground level so that water drains. The ground level can have a gradual slant so that water drains away.
When raising the ground level. You can use rocks or crushed concrete at the bottom and pea gravel at the top. Rocks and gravel let water sip through and they do not become muddy.
You can increase the rate of water flowing away from your run by integrating a trench into the run design. Water from the run can drain into a trench that carries the waterway from your chicken run and coop.
You can design your run so that it can be temporarily covered using a tarp when it rains. This prevents rainwater from getting into the run. When there is no rain, you can open the tarp and let your chickens bask in the sun.
You can also permanently put a roof on one side of the run while leaving the other side open. The chickens will use the covered dry area when it rains.
Wood mulch works great. It absorbs water in a muddy chicken run and breaks down into great compost for use in your garden. You can dig it out twice or thrice a year and add new chippings.
Water and chicken droppings get filtered through the wood shavings. When chickens dig holes, fill them with fresh wood chippings.
You can start your run with this method before rains by placing 12 inches high of wood shavings before the rains start.
As this method requires a lot of wood shavings, reach out to the local trees service so that they can dump wood shaving for free in your yard or homestead after they do their jobs in your area.
The beauty of using this deep litter method on an outdoor chicken run is that will hide in the litter. Chickens will turn the litter as they forage for bugs.
A grazing frame is a wooden frame with wire mesh on top. The grass is planted inside the frame. Chickens feed on the grass from the top and they never get to scratch the grass. This keeps the grass growing as chickens pinch off the top sprouts. You can keep reseeding the grazing frame without the fear that your chickens will eat the grass seeds
Grazing frames can be used in a chicken run to prevent it from ever getting muddy. Any water puddles will collect inside the frame. Chickens will not get to scratch the ground. This prevents it from gettign muddy. With this method, you will have fresh grass for your chickens, while preventing the chicken run from getting muddy.
Using construction sand in the chicken run is a great way of dealing with a muddy run. Place 3 or 4 inches of construction sand in the coop, with a barrier around the coop to prevent the sand from spilling off the coop.
Sand lets water through and dries fast. It also helps deal with odor in the chicken run.
You can mix sand and wood chippings as bugs will love the mulch that is formed. In turn, your chickens will enjoy eating the bugs while mixing the sand and wood chippings.
Sandbags are a great way of dealing with a run that is already muddy. Placing sand in an already muddy run is a lot of work as the sand gets mixed with the mud. Sand in sandbags helps prevent.
You just need to fill feed bags or sacks with construction sand and place it on the chicken run. This will provide an “island” away from the mud. Once the mud dries up, you can work on implementing a permanent fix.
A temporary measure for raising the ground level is using pallets on a muddy run.
Place pine pellets on the ground and pallets on top.
The pine pellets will absorb the moisture on the ground while the pallets raise the ground for the chickens to stand on. You can remove the pallets once the rains are over.
Horse keepers use pine beddings to keep the stalls dry. Hay also drops on the floor. The mixture of hay, pine beddings, and horse manure is cleaned out frequently. This can make a great remedy for a muddy chicken run. The good news is you can get horse manure for free.
The pine shavings and hay will soak up the water in the mud, while the horse droppings provide a great home for bugs. Chickens will spread the horse manure looking for bugs.
In the end, you will have nutritious compost that is a mixture of horse manure, pine shavings, chicken droppings, and mud from your chicken run.
Biochar is a carbon-rich product produced when organic materials are decomposed at high temperatures. It is highly absorbent making it an ideal substance for keeping the chicken run dry.
Biochar can also up to 5 times its weight and dry quickly.
Pine pellets are highly absorbent and can be used to keep the coop dry. They work well with the mud. Once they absorb water, they break down to look like sand particles. When it gets wet again, they absorb the water puddles in seconds.
Equine Bedding Pellets / Horse Stall Pellets
Equine bedding pellets and horse stall pellets are made of 100% natural soft wood fibers. They are made to be highly absorbent, especially for urine in horse stalls. They do a good job in absorbing water in muddy chicken runs,