As the months slowly tick over to autumn and winter, the rain in the UK can be inevitable. And with rain, comes the mud. When you keep hens in your back garden and they are on grass when they free-range, you might begin to see their lovely run, turning into mud and sludge.
You can deal with the mud by covering it up in porous material, diverting the water away, covering the run or moving them around every few days. But this is a short-term solution as whatever you put down will reduce quickly and your hens will be walking around in what looks like muddy welly boots again.
So, what can be done to improve conditions for your hens until the sun starts to shine and we have drier ground again?
Good drainage is key. It may seem obvious but if your hen house and run are at the bottom of a slope the ground will become waterlogged. If you are not able to move your run to fresh ground on a regular rotation, you will need to think of ways to improve the experience for your hens.
Runoff – you should also direct any runoff away from other pens, and areas where it can cause more damage.
Some ideas to try:
- Provide a paved area to stand the feeder on – if possible under a cover.
- Make a crude field shelter – an old kitchen table with a tarpaulin over one side is easy to rig up.
- Put a layer of sand/rubber chippings or gravel down to help with drainage. Bark chippings can go mouldy so be careful if using these.
- Provide a dry sandbox under cover to allow the hens to dust bath.
- Treat your ground near the pop hole or door with a disinfectant; this will stop the ground from becoming poached and smelly.
- Use plenty of absorbent bedding inside the coop to minimise the amount of mud and wet tracked into your coop.
Important: Remember that loose wet ground can cause run supports to move and leave gaps for predators – check your perimeter on a regular basis.
If you normally rely on an electric fence, ensure it is still functioning correctly in wet conditions.