New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Long Woods colony house floor

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I am building a long Woods style half-monitor colony house for a large farm flock...
And I wondering what the consensus is for a bedded pack system...
Dirt floor with concrete stem wall or concrete slab?
Any thoughts?
post #2 of 8

Can't really say, but I am about to do the same. Except mine will be portable on skids. The one I will be doing will be about 8' x 12'. Am working out some of the dimensions from Woods book, as he doesn't give dimensions for one of this size. His are 10' x 16' or 6" x 10".


But I also plan on doing a dirt floor using deep litter. When it gets deep and time to move it........I'll move it.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
You'll love the Woods style coop. This is the 3rd one I'm building... The other two are both 20 x 16... Basically two 10 x 16 plans side by side with a divider so I can split them into two sections if desired.
One thing I don't like about them is the unorthodox angles and sizes... Makes building small cock or broody hen pens inside them a pain.... But I've figured out how to work with it. Try are very comfortable coops in all weather.
Both of my coops have a dirt floor... I've never had a slab. But I'm wondering if it's easier to clean.... Then again you have natural drainage with dirt and 'biological activity' associated with earth contact for deep litter inoculation...
post #4 of 8

I read your post again, and missed the part about "Long" the first time. "Long" would imply you are building attached multiples of Wood's colony house......which are multiples of the 10' wide x 16' deep units. He also gave dimensions for one that was 20' x 20', split down the middle into two 10' x 20' units. Not sure how "large" your large flock is going to be, but those were used for up to 40 to 50 birds per module.


Back then (100 years ago), Woods and at least one contemporary of his firmly advocated away from dirt floors in favor of elevated concrete slab floors inside stem walls in these larger permanent barns if you could afford it. By elevated, it meant the bottom of the slab would be no lower than the grade of the adjacent soil outside it. The top of the slab elevated above the inside slab would not be wet from ground water sources. Top of the stem wall above that at least as deep as the level of the litter......and then some. The concern was mostly damp, wet litter on dirt floors, plus ability to clean them, soil contamination over time with the high N droppings, and rats. About the only predators either of them mentioned on a regular basis was hawks and rats. The rats building tunnels under the litter and coming out to snag baby chicks. But again concrete, with a shallow layer of litter on top, which they wanted to keep really, really dry.


But the worm turns and now the trend is to deep litter. In his book and websits, modern guru Harvey Ussery now advocates deep litter over dirt floors. But Harvey and others who follow his suggestions may not be keeping as many birds as you plan to....either in total numbers or density per SF, and his climate in Virginia may be milder. His deep litter is a cold compost pile up to a foot deep, but he has a large garden and can use a lot of compost. If you plan to have that many birds, hopefully you have a plan for that much spent litter too, and maybe a way to get it out of your barn that does not involve a pitchfork exclusively? Back then, on the Long houses, there was talk of overhead trolley tracks that ran down the length of the multiple Long colony buildings. Anything like a front end loader on a small tractor or skid steer was a fantasy they could only dream of and likely would have given a left body part to get.


But even for the portable units like I plan to build, they both advocated for elevated wood plank floors. They wanted their buildings well ventilated.......and dry. Since mine will be portable, and since I intend to keep only 6 or so adult birds at a low density to start with, I'm going to try dirt floors, but with the ability to go back and install a wood floor if deep litter over dirt does not pan out.  My concern is moisture rising up from the floor and dampness.......even with all the ventilation. My guess is the colder your climate, the drier (and more ventilated) you want your building?

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks Howard E that was a thoughtful reply. I currently have about 120 breeder hens/cocks I overwintered. In the fall it goes a bit ridiculous then I cull way back to about 8 roosters and however many hens. The goal is breeding this rare breed for the future...
So if money was not an issue and you could have whichever.. Sounds like you would choose for concrete. I agree, but concrete does wick moisture from the ground up, and I worry about water leaks or rain coming in through the screens and having nowhere to go... Guess if I go that route I would need slope and drainage.
Again, the actual building itself is the downfall of this plan. If I had a similar sized coop but with clearspan trusses for instance, I could easily build in a way for a skid steer to get in there. But this half-monitor design needs a post right in the middle and with all the angles it is a bit of a pain to work around.
I have a manure spreader and am planning on making the front screens removable so I can just park the spreader in front of the coop and load it through windows with a fork. I love those old manure trolleys... Saw one in a dairy barn once. It ran out the barn into the back where it dropped into the pig pen. The farmer said you could park your spreader there and it would drop the manure right in it. When it was filled, you hitched the team to it and spread on the fields.
At the moment I think concretes the way... Theoretically one could get a deep bedding system stabilized on concrete and then only remove some of it to keep it inoculated with proper bacteria/micro-organisms.
post #6 of 8

On the wet concrete floor, if you put down a layer of gravel beneath the concrete does several things. It beds the pad......more of a cushion beneath the pad so soil movement doesn't affect also acts as a drainage bed to keep moisture beneath the pad from wicking up (and especially so if you put down a vapor barrier between the gravel bed and slab.....basically just 6 mil plastic film).....and elevates the pad so about the only moisture on it will come from above.....either from rain and snow from any open windows or from the birds themselves. This is how they built a "dry" house. If you were really concerned about ground moisture wicking up, you could even put in tile drains around the footings to drain any water away from beneath the slab. Do that and it should remain bone dry. To get the litter to compost on that you might have to add water to wet it down.


As near as I can tell, one structural issue to overcome with a Woods house is support of that monitor roof. The wider the building, the larger the problem becomes. I seem to recall some passage where Woods mentioned one of his barns had sagged in the middle, so needed a support post. One way to overcome that would be to use a wood truss in that area. Basically the same type of floor truss that home builders would use to support a too long floor span.


That might leave you screwed on using transom windows, but this is a chicken house. For windows, we might be able to use clear corrugated plastic nailed to a frame. The downside is the truss verticals and diagonals might be visible through the windows, and perhaps subject to weathering and sunlight. They may also make those manufactured I-beam joists down to the 6 inch level. That would do it too, and might help with any side racking. Still pondering these options.

Edited by Howard E - 3/2/16 at 5:58am
post #7 of 8
If you were wanting to go with a deep litter method, I would be inclined to go with a dirt floor. You will have better moisture retention and seeding of your material with microorganisms with the dirt acting as a reservoir.

If you were wanting to go with a deep bedding method, I would be inclined to either go with a concrete pad as described by Howard E or a wood floor covered in a non-permeable overlayment. That would allow for disinfecting the entire coop during litter changes as microorganisms don't play a big role in this method. The concrete would obviously be the more durable, but more expensive option.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I've been thing along those same lines.... As far as structural supports I don't know how he built buildings so light and had them stay standing. We regularly get 4' snow and very strong winds and looking at his designs I knew it wasn't going to work here... 2 x 3 studs? Sheesh... When I built my first one I started copying him exactly and ended up throwing way more 2 x 4s in about half way in. The second one I did with 2 x 6 rafter and like it much more. I'm planning on making this one last my lifetime so I'm thinking 4 x 6 fir posts (I'll mill them) and 4 x 6 beams spanning the 10'. These beams will support the 2 x 6 rafters on 16" spacing. 5/8" OSB for roofing and then metal on top... Should stand the test of time.
I'll and din photos when its done... Probably by late summer/ fall.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav: