Brand new to chickens - should we rethink our coop/run design?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lunatic, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. lunatic

    lunatic Out Of The Brooder

    Hello all,

    We are brand new to the whole chicken thing. We have two little chicks in a brooder right now and two more coming this week. We have started work on their outdoor lodgings which my husband (a carpenter) wants to make as bullet proof as possible. Right now our sketches look a lot like this:
    click for picture but with a bigger floor plan.

    This past weekend my husband framed out a floor, covered the bottom with chicken wire, placed on the ground wire side down, then filled gravel in between the joists. He then put a wood floor on top of it. This is going to be the base for the entire enclosure.

    After doing a lot of reading I'm wondering if this wood floor is a bad idea. We live in the Pacific Northwest where we get a lot of rain. Whatever material we use on the floor is gong to get wet, even with a roof. What do you all suggest? Should we rip out the floor and remove the joists and use bark chips or sand? Or is there something else we can use? The floor was supposed to keep out predators but I'm wondering if the chicken wire and gravel is enough of a deterrent.

    Thanks all!
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I agree with you -- a wood floor ON the ground, filled with gravel between the joists, will not last real long before rot takes it out. (Using ground-contact grade pressure-treated wood for joists, and pressure-treated plywood for the floor, will delay that some, but I still really really wouldn't do it).

    Wood floors are fine, mind you, but they need to have good clearance underneath, like at least 12", to get good airflow to dry things out under there.

    I don't know which would be easier for you at this point, to make it a *higher* raised floor (open to the outside air underneath it on all sides) or to lose the joists and just make it a gravel floor, but I'd strongly suggest doing one of those things.

    To predatorproof a gravel floor, either tamp it hard and flat and lay big square concrete pavers, or lay a 3-4' apron of heavy gauge welded wire mesh on the ground all around it (either weighted down by pavers or big rox or concrete rubble, or inserted under the turf, or something like that). Or both if you are paranoid [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  3. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I built the same coop, but I built the whole thing on top of concrete board. Then covered that with a thick layer of woodchip. My coop was 4 by 8 with an "upstairs" area of 4 by 4. I soon decided that it was too tight, even for just 4 chickens, and I built a separate run (6 by 8). Then I moved the whole coop and rebuilt the run, but that is a whole nother story. The concrete board worked great, and still does, never had anything get in there and it's easy to clean. So that might work for you--but be sure and use a thick layer of chip or sand on top to cushion it. If you decide to go "no floor", I would remove the chicken wire (which will decompose rapidly anyway), your chickens will try to scratch through it and hate it. Just put a two foot "apron" of welded wire or hardware cloth going out around the outside.

    Oh and [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2009
  4. lunatic

    lunatic Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks for the advice. Hubby was not too happy after all the work he put in but we want something we won't have to clean out every week. The whole structure will be roofed but rain does blow sideways here sometimes and I'd hate for the inside to get wet and nasty.

    If he doesn't want to tear out the floor would it be ok to cover it with vinyl and then a deep litter of some sort?
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The problem with the floor is that the joists and floor will rot out -- quite rapidly if you've used plain lumber, or if you've used pressure-treated then the joists might last 5 years before too severely damaged, and 3/4" pressure-treated plywood with wet dirt/gravel on its underside might last, I dunno, several years.

    Putting vinyl flooring down won't help anything -- of course you can do it if you want and it does make the floor a little easier to clean, but it is dampness and rot *from the ground side* that will getcha, not from the bedding side (in this particular case).

    Good luck,

  6. lunatic

    lunatic Out Of The Brooder

    There is a lot of gravel underneath the structure, so it should drain pretty well. And yes the base is pressure treated so it should last a little while. The roof will keep most water away. I'm more worried about moisture from the inside - from any rain blowing in and from chicken poop. I'm hoping to have something I don't have to clean out and replace every weekend. I love the sand idea, but I'm not sure I can convince him to rip out everything he's done and replace it. On the flip side, I don't want to have to buy wood chips every couple of weeks! [​IMG]
  7. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    Four chickens aren't going to make a huge mess. And since we don't have a store nearby that carries inexpensive wood chips, I tried the shredded paper from the office. It has been working great, except for some ticker tape parade days when I clean the coop!, and it's free.

    My only suggestion about the coop is to get it up off the ground, maybe blocks or something. And I know some people have put gutters on their coop roofs and french drains around the base to keep water away from the coop and run.
  8. lunatic

    lunatic Out Of The Brooder

    Sounds great, thanks so much!
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    You can also coat the underside of a floor with hardware cloth so that if a rat or some other predator chews, the wire will stop them (1/2") gauge). There are so many ways to be creative in coop construction and in meeting the needs of your birds...but yes, get it up off the ground to protect your investment.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  10. Chicken Rustler

    Chicken Rustler Grabs em n runs

    I live in the swamp lands of SW washington and I would not put even PT wood on the ground. Since it is already started would it be possible to jack it up the floor and put cement pier blocks under the wood? This would make it last much longer. I don't have a floor in my coop. I have a very deep layer of chips in both my coop and run. I get the chips from the local PUD when they are trimming trees. They are more than happy to dump them here for me to save them having to truck them to get get rid if em. These chips also make very good compost after a couple years in the SWW rain.

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