We love to keep our chickens in their natural environment but when it rains, things can get a little muddy, so it’s important to keep the chicken run dry.
The end of a hot dry summer sometimes means a rainy Autumn. Here, at Henny+Roo, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to help you keep your chickens outdoors and dry during the rainy seasons.
So read on to learn how to keep your chickens in their run, and nix the mud this season.
Problems with a muddy run
In addition to being messy and smelly, muddy runs aren’t healthy for your flock. Wet feet make it easier for bacteria and parasites to infiltrate, causing internal parasites and bumblefoot. Mud also attracts tons of flies, and nobody likes those.
Keep Your Chickens Under Cover
One of the easiest ways to keep your chicken run dry during the wet season is to provide a cover for the run. You can create a half-and-half type of cover that not only protects part of the run from the rain but also offers shade.
Consider building a roof out of recycled materials or creating an overhang to keep at least part of the run from becoming a mud pit.
And if you’re looking for a budget-friendly roof solution, a simple tarp can be employed to keep your chickens clean and dry while still enjoying the outdoors.
The Henny+Roo run is covered with corrugated polycarbonate roof panels.
Use Absorbant Materials
If your run and coop are stationary, consider bedding it down with straw, hay, grass clippings, or leaves. Shavings are also a great way to wick up the moisture from a heavy rain.
Utilizing absorbent materials is especially useful if your run is a small space. As you know, it doesn’t take long for chickens to eat all the greens and unearth…well, the earth. From there on out, any drizzle or sprinkle of rain creates a muddy mess.
And, of course, those soft fluffy butts become caked with dirt, eggs are no longer clean upon harvest, and in general, the whole scene is unsightly.
Using something to soak up the wetness is an easy way to prevent mud from muddying up your coop and run.
There will, however, be some maintenance…but with the extra work, there’s also an opportunity:
Remove the soiled, wet, bedding after the rain and pile it high on a compost pile.
Later, use it for gardening!
There are several bedding products that are great for keeping the coop dry:
Eaton Pet and Pasture Hemp Bedding
We have worked with all of these companies in the past while curating products for our monthly subscription boxes for chicken keepers, and can vouch for the high quality of their products.
Be a Chicken Farmer and Keep the Run Dry
Here’s the thing about a wet run; once you add chickens, the situation becomes a whole lot worse.
Your chickens will slosh around, scratch about, and generally become a muddy mess. Especially if they’ve already scratched down to the dirt before it rains.
So, one of our favorite solutions is to simply watch the weather. Be that chicken farmer who knows when rain is coming, and close up the coop so your chooks can’t make a bad situation worse.
Rotational Grazing (Er, Scratching)
One of the best ways to keep your run from becoming a wet mud puddle is to move your chickens from one run to another.
This works best if you close your chickens up before rain and move them on a well-planned schedule.
Moving your chickens also allows the greenery to regrow between scratching sections, which in turn, also protects the soil and prevents erosion.
Cattle ranchers refer to the practice of moving their herd as rotational grazing. It’s often done to ensure the fields regrow, don’t turn into dusty pastures, and also to protect their animals from parasites (also an added bonus for chickens).
So, as you can see, keeping your chickens from destroying a run before it gets wet will help heal the earth and keep plenty of greens growing for your chickens to enjoy when they return.
If you’ve got some landscaping skills in your back pocket, or can hire someone with that knowledge, you can plan ahead and build your run with drainage in mind.
Utilize slopes, sand, and gravel to create a run that dries fast and keeps your chickens clean throughout the year.
Location, Location, Location
If you have the luxury of planning your run today, pick out the perfect location.
In other words, survey your property, look for high areas where water will not pool, and consider spaces that have a natural cover.
Trees and shrubs are fantastic for extra protection from rain and the blazing summer sun. Not to mention they’re also great for protecting your chickens from sneaky predators.
All in all, it’s important to keep your chickens dry. It keeps them healthy and keeps your eggs clean.
And the last thing you want to do is build your entire run only to find out that in the wet season it turns into a duck pond (unless, of course, you have ducks).
So think ahead, and start planning your run for all seasons…and always remember, it’s never too late to make a few changes in the spirit of keeping your beloved flock happy and healthy.