I recently saw a post on one of the chicken groups that I belong to on Facebook. Someone was asking what they could do to help their chickens who had been stuck in a muddy area all winter.
The responses started pouring in from many others.
I currently only have six chickens, but, even so, I know how hard it is to keep them free from mud. My chickens are in two large metal pens and they get about an hour of free range time each day. During rainy spells, they definitely end up with muddy pens. I can move the pens, but it’s a laborious process and hard on the back. And, within a day or two, they manage to peck away at most of the new grass and that quickly turns to dirt or mud too.
I’ve tried many different solutions. Sand doesn’t work. It quickly disappears. Pine shavings don’t last very long. Hay can be okay if you have access to it, but you have to worry about chickens ingesting it and it getting stuck in their crops. Crushed oyster shells are good for them nutritionwise and can help with some of the mud, but they are expensive.
So, in addition to moving them as much as I can, the other thing that has helped is putting down four foot by six foot pieces of wood in their pens. The wood is heavy to move and it doesn’t completely cover their ground, but they really love having something solid to stand on when it gets muddy and I feel much better too. Also, the wood is relatively inexpensive and lasts for a long time.
Still, I was super impressed by and interested in many of the 75 or so responses to the person’s Facebook post. Below are some of the best suggestions. I haven’t tried any of these (except for the pine needles, which was very laborious), but I thought I would make a list, both for myself to possibly use in the future, and for others fighting the neverending battle of keeping their chickens out of the mud.
1) A clear, Plexiglas corrugated roof
3) Toss in trimmings from cleaning up gardens in the fall.
4) “Wood chips. Best is from a tree surgeon where it’s not treated with anything.”
5) Tractor Supply Pine Pellet Stall Bedding.
6) Dig a trench to let the water drain.
7) Rake up pine needles and put them in the run.
Do you have any other suggestions? Also, let us know if you try any of the above and how well they work! Or, just share a picture of your flock with Wow my pet did That!
Here’s to sunnier skies ahead!