I'm hoping to get an eglu and some chickens in spring next year, so want to get chicken-proofing my garden over the winter. (I must be mad as I'm also expecting our first DC in Spring)...
Anyhow...I know where I want to put the Eglu and run, where there are currently slabs (that can be lifted), but wondered what was best to put on the run floor? Bark Chippings? Rubber Chippings? Gravel? Leave the bare slabs?
I'm bearing in mind that I've seen a rat in our garden last winter and have seen a fox in the neighbourhood, but not in our back garden. Think it will also need to be something reusable or compostable as our council don't accept 'green waste' in any way shape or form, so any green waste has to be taken by us to the tip (and would prefer not to have to put smelly chicken poop in the back of the car to take to the tip)!
what we have is a large run - think the size of a small garage - and it's attached to the chicken shed, with a ladder etc.
It's all covered with galvo roofing sheets so the ground stays very dry, they need dry, it's far better for them to be dusty than damp.
In this sense our arrangement works very well all year round and I never have to remove droppings from the run - they just seem to get turned back into dusty dry earth, they have been in there a year and the ground is just the same as it was.
HOWEVER we have a rat problem (there were rats already, our neighbours have a giant compost heap right over the wall and they came in the shed to eat our trampoline mats ) and they hae started digging actual tunnels underneath the slabs we have all round the edge, into the run where I scatter the chicken pellets.
I find poison can work but is unpleasant as you find dying rats...not good. What I should have dine, is lay an area of chicken wire UNDER the earth before I built the run, to stop anything digging its way in.
In your situation, I might suggest that you dig out a little way down, put the slabs back, and then refill the earth on top. This will stop foxes getting in too. We also dug the surrounding wire into the ground by up to a foot, to try and stop any determined foxes, and slabbed all round the outside for one slab's depth.
No foxes have got in yet, at least! Remember chickies need to have dust baths, so I don't like 'scratch mats' (thick grid wire laid on top of the ground) but if your run is uncovered it may well turn into Glastonbury over the winter
We are using hard wood chippings from flyte so fancy (sorry on my phone so I can't do links) on top of paving slabs. We just turn them over from time to time and use ground sanitiser. BUT the wood chips are expensive if you factor in postage, I'm trying to find a local supplier instead
I use the hardwood chip pings from b and q. This is on top of earth, so I dig out evey few months and replace. I also top dress regularly with As it's a fixed run, it's important to worm chooks regularly using flubenvet. Those are the only two chemicals I use. I recently lost a three week old chick to sudden death caused by wild bird parasites carried by worms, this hardened my resolve with the regular worming.