Below ground coop?


9 Years
Mar 7, 2010
Riverside, CA
I was inspired by this article I read in MEN about earth buildings ( While I don't have the patience or stamina to fill countless bags with dirt, I did have an idea to use dirt that has already formed a "cave" to make my coop.

Let me explain: I have two huge sinkholes in my backyard (about 18'x10'x8' deep). What if I built a short wall (12 or 18") up around the edge of the sinkhole and put a roof on it? The roosts and nest boxes could be just above ground level, while the "floor" would be the hole. If I put the chicken door at ground level, they would go downhill to get into the coop. I think having most of the wall made of earth would do wonders for regulating the temp (live in GA) and would save a bunch on materials. I wonder how the girls would feel about living underground? Would this help protect against predators or make them more susceptible? How in the WORLD would I clean it? I was thinking of making whole sections of the roof on hinges so I could just step into the coop. Seems weird though. Has anyone else done anything like this?

I am excited about this because if it is feasible, it would greatly increase the size of my coop. And we all know that means MORE CHICKENS!!
Did you watch the survivor where Rupert dug a hole as a shelter? Rain tends to fill the hole until it becomes a goldfish pond. Just thought I'd mention that before you dug to much. I try to build my coops up off the ground for several reasons. Rats being one of them.
You're right about the temp control, though - natural air conditioning, for sure. My son has a scheme in his head to put a long, wide tube, with a fan at the end, underground to cool his shop one day; we've chatted about pest control, etc. He did try a similar setup for a worm bed, which was invaded by fire ants pretty quickly. Fortunately it was an experiment, not much investment of time or money. I'd be tempted to just dig them out a bit and watch what happens.
I should have provided more information.

The sink holes were caused by the burying of construction material when they built my house 10+ years ago. The material decayed and then burned (true story), which caused the earth on top of them to sink.

I originally wanted to turn the holes into a duck pond. My thought was that, since they are holes, they will fill with water when it rains. Not the case. These holes have been in the backyard for years and I have NEVER seen standing water in them. Must have good drainage, but I am not sure if chicken poop will stop the drainage.

We have fire ants who build nests on top of and within the first 12 or 18" of earth. I don't think that this hole will "attract" them since it has been there forever and the fire ants are just as likely to build a nest in the floor of the coop I have now. It is definitely something to watch for, though.

I have never seen a rat in this area. I have an outdoor dog and cat (and a completely fenced yard) that tend to discourage unwanted visitors.

Sillychicken - your coop is absolutely AMAZING. And way more work than I wanted to do!
The burning question we all have now is how the construction materials underground started on fire?
Not that interesting, actually. When the hole started to sink due to the decay of the material, the previous owner used it as a fire pit. Evidently there was enough combustible material down there that it caught fire and smoldered for weeks, which caused the hole to sink deeper.

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