Base for Chicken Coop


In the Brooder
Jul 19, 2019
We recently moved to a property with 25 acres and there where existing buildings and loafing sheds and in the process of converting one of the sheds to a “Chicken Palace” as we are calling it..
My question is about 2/3 of the floor is cemented and not sure what to put on top of it - sand ?? wood chips?? pea gravel
After 3 years of working out of state happy to be home and rebuilding my flock of chickens!!
Would love to hear different views of the different media to use on top of the cement
I use pine shavings inside my 8 x 12 coop. It has a wooden floor, I add some pine shavings to freshen it up as needed and clean it out about once a year or so. I use poop boards with sweet PDZ under the roost that I scoop every morning, so I don't get much poop in the bedding. They spend most of the day in the run or roaming the yard.
I've had a lot of luck with pine needles this year! My husband and I run a landscape business, so we have constant access to things like leaves, pine needles, mulch....and I just use whatever I can get for free/cheap. With that said though, my birds are only in their coop and run to sleep, they free range the rest of the day.
My vote is pine sawdust or larger chips. It doesn't reek to high heaven when it gets wet the way straw does, and it will compost well and make a good garden additive. It is often free, if not free it's cheap. Rocks and sand and such have their place, but if it is over concrete I assume you will be scraping it down to the concrete when cleaning every so often. I dunno what one does with chicken poop laden sand or rocks?
Would love to hear different views of the different media to use on top of the cement
What kind of bedding you use may depend on how you manage the manure.
This is about cleaning, but covers my big picture.
No, I don't have concrete floors, but think this would work there too.

-I use poop boards under roosts with thin(<1/2") layer of sand/PDZ mix, sifted daily(takes 5-10mins) into bucket going to friends compost.

-Scrape big or wet poops off roost and ramps as needed.

-Pine shavings on coop floor, add some occasionally, totally changed out once or twice a year, old shavings added to run.

- My runs have semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
Aged ramial wood chippings are best IMO.

-Nests are bedded with straw, add some occasionally, change out if needed(broken egg).

There is no odor, unless a fresh cecal has been dropped and when I open the bucket to add more poop.

That's how I keep it 'clean', have not found any reason to clean 'deeper' in 5 years.

Oh, and....Welcome to BYC! @sdauph1
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Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, (laptop version shown), then it's always there!
Make sure you put something over the cement as it can be kind of hard on their feet. The above suggestions are good.
It depends on where the roosts are in relation to the concrete floor. The entire floor is not concrete. If the roost (preferably over poop boards) are placed over the concrete floor section, the landing zone might be off the concrete. But then the prime scratching area could be ON the concrete and you have a built in nail file.
To the OP, can you post some pictures of your coop? And a sketch of where things are in relation to one another, like the are of the floor that is concrete, where the pop door will be, where the human door is, windows, where the prevailing wind comes from, etc. All this will help determine a good set up and how to manage the coop effectively with the minimum of effort. That is what we are all after!
To me the main thing is how dry it stays inside. Wet poop will stink, dry poop will not. It doesn't matter if your floor is bare concrete, dirt, sand, wood chips, wood shavings, hay, straw, dead leaves, Spanish moss, or anything else. If it stays wet, poop is going to stink. Wet organic matter will stink too after a bit. The microbes feeding on it will become the anaerobic ones because if it is too wet the oxygen cannot get to the aerobic microbes you want plus oxygen kill the anaerobic ones. Even the aerobic microbes need a bit of moisture to live and reproduce. If it is really dry even they won't live. The aerobic ones are the ones that give that nice earthy smell. The anaerobic give that sour ammonia smell.

Think of bedding as a diaper. The bedding's job is to absorb the moisture from the poop and dry it out. If the bedding is dry it will absorb the moisture from the poop and keep it from smelling. If a diaper is wet it can't absorb more moisture. Neither can wet bedding.

It is possible for poop to get so thick it won't dry out. That is especially true under the roosts. They digest food at night and continue pooping. Since they are not moving around it can really build up. A lot of us use droppings boards under the roosts to catch that poop and make it easy to remove. There are all kinds of ways to do this. I use a flat surface and scrape the poop off into a bin as needed, then put it on my compost pile. In one area I have plastic bins under the roosts on the coop floor to catch that poop. Some people build trays and fill it with PDZ, sand, wood shavings, whatever so they can scoop the poop like with cat litter. Another method to keep the poop from building up is to rake it into the rest of the bedding if your coop floor is big enough. If you scatter scratch in that area the chickens will scatter if for you when they are digging through that looking for treats.

We all have our favorite bedding materials. As long as it stays dry about anything will work. My thoughts on which bedding is best is what is readily available and fairly inexpensive. How you manage it plays a part too. How often do you clean it out and how do you dispose of it? I use wood shavings from Tractor Supply as my least expensive most convenient source. Plus when I do clean it out (once very three or four years) I put it on my garden in the fall and till it in. By spring planting it has rotted enough that it's ready. I'm not going to tell you that my method is the greatest thing since peanut butter and sardines on rye with yellow mustard. Your conditions are probably a lot different from mine so different things could work better for you.

Some people like to use what they call the deep litter method. In the DLM you turn your coop floor or run floor into a compost pile. They may toss in kitchen wastes, garden wastes, dead leaves, cut grass, anything you would put in a compost pile. The chickens will keep it turned for you. You get black gold, the compost. If you have 25 acres you could probably find a good use for that. But moisture is critical. If it gets too wet it goes anaerobic and will stink. If it gets too dry the aerobic microbes can't live so the stuff does not get broken down into compost. It needs to be about as moist as a sponge that was soaked and then rung out as dry as you can get it. I'm not sure how that would work on your concrete floor. Mine stays too dry for it to break down but by using droppings boards I can go years without cleaning it out.

I don't know what will work best for you. These are the type of things I think about when deciding what works best for me. Good luck with it.

When I moved onto my two acres i closed the front of a 12' x 60' loafing shed for dry storage for certain equipment. I used an 8' x 12' end for my coop. I don't know your exact plans but that loafing shed was a great resource.

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