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gshepard 02-19-2012 12:00 PM

Outdoor coops/pens filling with puddles, mud and muck. Help w/ solutions? (Pics)
I raise a variety of game birds in a few separate outdoor pens and also have a dozen chickens in a chicken coop. The big issue with all of the pens as well as the chicken coop is that in the spring time and especially after a heavy rain the ground inside the pens will become pure mud or will fill with excess water, forming giant puddles. It's okay once they dry out, but when it rains a lot or when the snow/ice is thawing it can be a real mess. All of the birds are supposed to be kept on dry ground (esp the game birds) so it's a big problem when the pens end up looking like this:

All of the pens have wire ceilings; I've already tried covering the tops of the pens with tarps when I know there's going to be a lot of rain but there are several problems with this. First, sometimes holes will form in the tarp after only a few days and all the rain will come in through the holes and make just as much of a mess as if I'd left them uncovered. Second, the tops of the pens are flat so if holes don't form then it's not long before the rain water will collect in a mini-lake on top of the tarp which weighs down the wire ceiling to the point where it looks like it's going to cave in. This can be solved by manually going out with a ladder and a bucket and bailing out all the water on top of the tarps every time it rains but this is a big hassle. Third, there are many large tree branches only a few inches above some of the tops of the pens which makes it difficult to put any sort of cover over them and I'd rather not have to cut down some of the major tree branches in my yard.

I also looked into creating a drainage system of some kind for the pens but after asking two different professionals about it and being given quotes in the thousands of dollars by both, I believe that's way out of my price range for something like this. Right now I have three methods of dealing with the water and mud and none are ideal by any means; the first is covering the pens with a tarp (impractical for the reasons listed above), the second is going in and manually scooping up all of the water out of the pen and into buckets with a feed scoop (can take hours; not at all efficient and difficult to get all of the water/muck out of there) and the third is putting down boards or other things as temporary "bridges" over the water and muck until it dries up or freezes.

So I'm coming here in hopes of getting some ideas for what else I can do to solve this problem. Each outdoor game bird pen is 11 feet long by 4 feet wide by 6.5 feet tall and the outdoor section of the chicken coop is 8 feet long by 8 feet wide by 6 feet tall. Does anyone have any recommendations for solutions? My budget is pretty tight so inexpensive solutions would be best.

I've been thinking that an easier, quicker and more efficient way to get all the excess water out of the puddles in the pens or off the top of the tarps would be a Wet-Dry vacuum that I'd plug in to an extension cord and use the hose to suck up all the water instead of having to try and scoop it all into a bucket by hand. I've never used a Shop-Vac or anything before though so I'm not sure how reasonable of an idea this is and I don't want to end up buying one and ruining it if it can't handle that sort of task. Would a $40 - 80 dollar Wet-Dry vacuum work for this sort of thing? I had something like one of these models in mind: (#1: 2.5 gallon, 2HP) (#2: 5 gallon, 3HP) (#3: 8 gallon, 5.5HP)

joecaption 02-19-2012 12:35 PM

Far better to spend the time and money to raise the grade with fill dirt then gravel and relocate the pens on top of the raised grade.
No vacuum is going to work trying to do that every time it rains.

creeper 02-19-2012 12:39 PM

It looks as though you have good fall away from those pens so the solution should be easy. Dig a trench 10-12" wide running the length of the pen. I would do it just inside the fence line. Start at one end dig down 6-8 inches and gradually go deeper as you run the length. Place in the trench, a 4" corrugated pipe with a sock. Buy the one with holes on half. Surround the pipe with round drainage stones. Place the earth back. Don't forget to have the soil in the pens slope from the hut out to the fence. Daylight the pipe somewhere down the slope. Should not cost much
After a heavy rain of course its going to need time to dry a little but the pipe will whisk it away faster. Maybe you could keep the biddies in for a spell.

Viva la DIY

joed 02-19-2012 01:26 PM

Does the floor need to be dirt? Fill the pen with 3-4" of screenings.

gregzoll 02-19-2012 02:51 PM

Just wear a pair of muck boots, when you go out there. Talk to any farmer, and they will tell you how to deal with it. One thing is, the birds need a dry floor, so that means possibly building a raised coop with a wood floor, or concrete floor. Plus putting straw or saw dust helps, but need to get the pen so that it is not a mud pit, unless you want to change to raising pigs.

Bondo 02-19-2012 03:23 PM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 857357)
Far better to spend the time and money to raise the grade with fill dirt then gravel and relocate the pens on top of the raised grade.
No vacuum is going to work trying to do that every time it rains.

Ayuh,... Joe's got it,...

Water flows downhill,...
The pens need to be higher than the surrounding grades....
Not a Hole the water runs into, 'n seeps in....

Nailbags 02-19-2012 09:25 PM

If you want it dry you need drainage. Start with 2 inch minis crushed rock then back fill with 3/8 crushed rock. In all reality My chickens have a nice dry coop the rest is mud in the winter it is just the nature of farming Rais the coops up of the ground.

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