Washed Out Chicken Run

It has been suggested that the best place to put a chicken run is on a slight slope so that the rainwater runs out and doesn’t just puddle on the ground.

But it has been my experience that it is NOT the best idea to put your chicken run toward the bottom of a slope. (Although, I’m sure it seemed like the right idea at the time.)

And since the chickens completely obliterated any sign of plant growth within their run, they now have the joy of strutting through red mud after a good shower. Of course, we do free range them for the most part, but until we open their run mid-morning, they are stuck in the muck.

I’ve tried to put bedding down for them to walk on in there, but the rain just washes it into a corner.

See? It’s awful. Nothing but mud.

I’ve been working on a remedy over the past two days, which I hope will solve the washed out run dilemma. I dug a ditch along the upper fence-line, and filled it with rocks I hunted around our property. The idea is that this run-off ditch will catch the water and absorb it before it sweeps into the chickens’ area.

Working on finding more rocks to fill her up. Let’s hope it works. I spread a whole bale of hay in there this afternoon. The girls were glad to have dry ground again!

When Spring comes I’ll put the covered raised beds back in their enclosure, and grow more grass or something for them to peck at as it grows through the wire on the beds.

Have you had any trouble with your animal lots getting muddy? How do you keep your feathered (or furry) friends on dry ground?

11 thoughts on “Washed Out Chicken Run”

  1. Intense rotational grazing for your chickens might help immensely. Your run looks fairly large – try dividing it into tiny paddocks (maybe even just two, although more would be better) using cheap welded wire or whatever barrier you might have on hand and sowing some cover crops in the areas where the chickens are kept out of temporarily (they’ll be fine in a small, confined space, especially if you let them free range during the day anyway). As each paddock is grazed down, turn them into the next paddock that has been growing and block off the one they’ve been in. This will cut down erosion, build top soil, attract beneficial organisms, and help supplement your store-bought feed. It is meant to be done on a larger scale, but it might work on a smaller scale if managed well.

  2. My hens have been moving around the yard in their makeshift corral- built of landscape timbers. They certainly can completely remove the vegetation if they aren’t moved frequently, especially in our 3/4 acre yard! I’ve been putting that talent to use by getting them to do weeding and pest removal around my fruit trees and ornamentals. After all, they will work for food!

  3. I do not have chickens but I have had this problem with my garden. It is on a slope and the soil would wash out. I put a trench in at the bottom and it has worked great but I still get some erosion toward the top. Putting it in at the top of the hill/garden makes a lot more sense and would combat the erosion. I guess I got some more work to do. Thanks!

  4. Your ditch idea reminds me of rainwater harvesting. http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/. I like it. We currently use lots of hay and straw for the mud problem.

    When we get on our bigger location we will move the chickens around in a mobile chicken coop following the cows similar to what Joel Salitin does. Hopefully that keeps the pretty’s from pecking and scratching the grass to the earth.

  5. Great thinking! If you could make the ditch in such a way that it channels the water away from/around the pen, that would help even more.

  6. Maybe if you seeded some rye under the new bedding, it could root and help hold the soil in place? I believe it’s rye that has the really deep roots. If not that, get a blend recommended for over leach fields. Those grasses are chosen for their deep roots. It’ll be a challenge to get that going with the hens in there though.

    I agree though, the top of the hill might have been better. … and your ditch is clever. Try topping it with pine needles to help keep mud from filling it in . When a layer of mud builds up, just pull back the pine needles and put a fresh layer down.

    Good job!

  7. I have a small run but encountered the same puddle problem. I bought bags of “Muck Buster” (wood chips) which solved it completely. Next season I’ll scout out tree trimmers and get free chips.

  8. I love your pen! We have had this problem, however on a smaller scale…but digging a ditch is exactly what I had to do, and lay down straw…I also put their outside water dish up on a brick and made a boarded walk way to the door for me…of course a pair of mud boots helps this would be homesteader. ;0)


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