Muddy Chickens

chicken run

We had planned to visit the allotment again yesterday but attempting to weed in heavy rain and hail didn’t seem very appealing. It was far too wet and cold to do anything constructive so we decided to stay home and tackle a job from our long list. Despite the new chicken run roof (put on about a month ago), the ground was being saturated by wind-driven rain and our poor hens were sinking inside their muddy enclosure. As predicted, the grass didn’t survive enthusiastic chicken feet for very long and the ground quickly became a swamp. Leaving the ground like this will eventually cause disease problems.

IMG_2692chickenrun

The first thing we did was to attach a sheet of tarp to the back of the run (another piece is needed to finish off the back and side), we used bricks to weight it down giving a snug fit. It doesn’t look particularly appealing but it does the job of keeping the rain out. After generously sprinkling Stalosan F poultry disinfectant over the soil we slabbed the floor of the enclosure using patio slabs stored away in our garage since moving day. The sodden ground made it really easy to bed them in.

chicken run

To finish off, a generous heap of horse bedding (chopped straw and dust extracted shavings mix) on top of the slabbed chicken run floor and the girls are dry and happy again. Our chicken enclosure is far too big to move around to fresh ground, slabbing the floor over prevents the ground from becoming ‘sick’ and prevents rats and predators from tunnelling underneath. It’s simple to clean too. Patio slabs are expensive to buy so keep an eye out for them on websites like Freecycle.

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19 comments

  1. Your girls look so happy in their dry run. We have a similar run for our girls with the same roof. We didn’t think of using a tarp this year, but will next. It is not rain we need to worry so much about but snow! The girls HATE snow….and I am starting to agree with them. Take good care, Patti

  2. They look very happy. Mine have the edge of the run slabbed for the run/house to sit on but left the inside ground as they can then dust bathe and scrat around but have had the driving rain problem and now worried about the (yes!) sun problem shall probably get some tarp or one of those beach windbreakers – pampered girls! They can always escape up into the house as they did to take refuge from last week’s snow. I think it would cost a fortune in sawdust, I get a bit OCD about cleaning out!! How many do you have now Karen?

  3. Heidi, we have 5 hens at the moment.
    We buy horse bedding for less than £5 for a huge bale and it really does go far. We wanted to leave a section unpaved for dustbaths (as we did before) but the ground here is really waterlogged, it wasn’t an option at the moment. The hens are using a large garden tray of compost for dustbaths, it goes everywhere but it’s dry and easy to sweep up. Once the fences are in and the weather improves they can explore the garden as they like.

  4. Oh my gosh, you keep your hens in comparative luxury compared to us! Our poor creatures are left out in the morning to fend for themselves and lured back in the evening with promises of a warm feed. The feathers on your birds look very well though so I might follow your example and try some of the special chicken disinfectant instead of lime.

  5. Hi Hannah, these are young hens (excluding the brown hen) and they’re going through a light moult and look scruffier than usual. Do you give your hens any tonics or supplements such as Poultry Spice in the feed or ACP in the water? This would really help feathers, particularly if they’re going through a moult. A great tip is to feed dried mealworms as a treat in the afternoon, they’re packed full of protein which is great for feathers!

  6. Ah, interesting about the patio slabs. My allotment neighbours used to have some chickens and I gave them a load of slabs for their hen house. I wasn’t quite sure why they wanted them..but now I know!

  7. I have Rubber horse mats down on the floor of the run with wood shavings on top. But for the outside area where they can go freely i was thinking of slabbing some areas as we have had a lot of rain this year.

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