Building first coop and need help with floor


8 Years
Sep 4, 2011
Seattle, WA
Hello, new here to Backyard Chickens! We have a tiny coop, so I began to build a tractor/run thing. It's almost completed and I wonder if I should turn it into a coop/cage for the chickens.

Initially this was just going to be a run attached to a coop I would later build, but since they don't really need a run (they free range during the day). Because it was the first time I'd ever built anything, it turned out to be heavier and bigger than I expected. However, it's very sturdy and could be used as a coop. It measures about 7' x 3' x 2 1/2'. There is hardware cloth all around the sides and top. Currently there is no floor. It just sits on the grass.

I would like to turn this into a permanent living space and wonder if I should 1) use plywood or hardware cloth on the bottom; and 2) how I can keep the girls protected from the cold in the winter. This cage will be under a carport that has no walls, just a roof. Would a tarp wrapped around the sides be enough to keep them warm? Seattle winters tend to be mild, but we get a lot of rain and wind. As for the floor, I guess the kind of stuff we put on the floor will depend on whether we use plywood or hardware cloth (pellets, straw, sand, etc.).

Any tips would be greatly appreciated as we are new to this and want to be ready for winter! If I can figure out how to do it, I will post a photo of the cage.

I live north of Seattle. I currently have a concrete floor with sand covering it as it cleans out like a cat box, really simple. If you want to permantly install the tractor, you could use the plywood, just have to keep it off the ground and I would seal it so it will last longer. The hardware cloth would work too, but you would need to have it up high enough for you to get under to clean. Some folks use the pine shavings, but it was more efficient for me to use the sand, and cheaper too. I have the hen house in a old dog run. ( see my page for pics.) I have a tarp on top to keep them cool during the day when I can not free range them. Because of the strong winds and all the rain we get up here, I am planning to wrap the 2 sides and the back with a tarp later this fall. I have a 40w light bulb in the hen house for the extra light the girls need in the shorter fall, winter and spring days, and it will also provide them some heat during the colder months. Make sure that you have a 2x4 for them to roost on for the winter as since we do get some below freezing days and nights, it will keep their toes from getting frost bite.
Hope this helps!!!

In my opinion, the chickens should feel like they can be snug in their coop, even on the nastiest of days. I recommend you cover the whole thing in plywood (including the floor) and put pine shavings deeply in there--at least for starters. Straw is not so good because it does not absorb as well. You can leave some vents--sections cut out of the plywood and put on hinges that can be propped up. A coop has to be somewhere they'll want to come home to at night, both to save you the trouble of chasing them down, and to keep them safe. If their coop is just hardware cloth, or hardware cloth wrapped in a tarp, chances are they'll find a cozier place to hang out then where they should be hanging out. Plus if you just leave hardware cloth on the bottom of the coop, whatever bedding your're using will be all over the floor of your carport in no time flat.

Hope that helps a bit-good luck!
I'm in northern CA, so milder here... but I have the coop one foot off the ground and solid plywood floor that I covered with linoleum. Very easy to clean (I use deep-litter method with pine shavings - virtually no odor) - I just sweep out the shavings once a month and compost them. My coop sides are wood, with 4 large windows covered in 1/2 inch hardward cloth (tons of predators here). I lock them in at night. (Wooden shingled roof). I have found that in a partially shaded are this coop has both keep them warm enough and cool enough. And with tons of rain and wet, muddy chickens, having a solid floor has help keep them warmer and drier. Good luck and enjoy!
Thank you! I am so happy to be here. I will go with plywood for the floor and today will go to the feed store for the horse pellets. I'm really nervous about the rats. My other question is about whether I should add posts to my existing cage or whether it would be OK to stand it up on concrete blocks. I guess the recommended 18 inches could work that way.
My only worry with putting the coop on blocks, unattached to the footings, would be that it could slide or move off the "foundation". I used 4x4s as my corner and center beams, and added 18" that way. (Also had to add some center beams - my coop is 7x8' - already way too small).
OK all, so here is what I have done so far. I put in a plywood floor and my mom and I lifted the coop onto concrete blocks. It's really heavy, so it did not occur to me that it might slide around. I'll have to look into that. We put a block under each corner and one smack in the center.

However! There are a few things that I think are wrong with the setup:

1. The coop is only about 12-14" off the ground.

2. To hide the smell where the other coop was, we scattered mulch all over the area where the coop was going to be, and it wasn't until we set the coop on the blocks that I realized that the mulch would be a perfect hiding place for rats! So now I have to rake it out from under the coop.

3. Now that it's been mentioned, I'm wondering about the coop sliding.

4. I was in a hurry to build this coop (the first thing I've ever built in my LIFE) and my original intention was to wrap it completely in hardware cloth, including the floor. (Well, my original intention was to have it as a run but for now it's a coop.) But we needed a bigger space for the girls, so I put in a plywood floor instead. It's not braced and I was kind of hoping that I could add braces eventually to keep it from sagging. Of course, now I will have to think about a frame with posts.

Thoughts are welcome!

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