Can I do a dirt floor in a rainy climate?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by finnleyjo, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. finnleyjo

    finnleyjo In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2009
    Where I live it rains probably 75-80% of the year. Can I still have a dirt floor? Our property drains fairly would we be okay if we just built up the floor a little?

  2. jnjross

    jnjross Songster

    Apr 3, 2008
    edwards, ms
    don't do it!!
    i did and i HATE it, i had to put down pallets yesterday
  3. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    Dirt floor in your coop or in your run? You are pretty much guaranteed to have dirt in the run. The chickens will tear the grass up.

    Both of my coops have wood floors with about 6" of shavings on top. I stir it every morning and shovel it out about once a month.
    My runs are both dirt. I add sand periodically to help with our mud problem. Eventually I want to put about 6" of sand across both runs.
  4. finnleyjo

    finnleyjo In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2009
    It is the coop that I am thinking of having a dirt floor in.

    Our run is at least 25x35ft (if not bigger), and currently covered in grass. I have 8 chicks in the brooder. I'm not sure how long it will take them to turn the run to dirt. Although, dh was talking today about opening the run up to the other fence basically doubling the size of the run. Talk about happy chickens.[​IMG]

  5. Chicken Woman

    Chicken Woman Incredible Egg

    Oct 16, 2008
    The grass will be gone pretty quick.
    I have my coop on a cement pad that use to be a dog run. Shavings on that. It cleans up real easy. My run is almost all sand so absorbs alot of wet. Still gets messy after a big snow.
  6. hungryhensfarm

    hungryhensfarm Songster

    Mar 24, 2009
    If there is anyway that water can seep into the coop I recommend very strongly not having a dirt floor. In the run it's fine because the sun can dry it faster. My coop has a dirt floor, stays muddy and smells awful. We moved recently and I have insisted that the new coop does not have a dirt floor.
  7. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Yeah, I live in a place like that too. [​IMG]
    I highly recommend not having a dirt floor. A lot of moisture comes out of the ground here. It will be so much easier to keep the coop dry and clean with a solid floor that is raised. My first coop sat directly on concrete boards, that worked pretty well, but I had to position boards on the sides to keep water from wicking underneath in the winter. My next coop will have a raised floor with linoleum on it, like our shed. The run will be dirt in no time--I use a thick layer of wood chip and keep most of the run covered. Divert all the water you can away from coop and run (downspouts, etc...)

  8. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The deep litter method is intended for a dirt floor coop, in case you did not know.

    I have two dirt floor coops. One was not built to be a coop, is too low, and stinks when it gets wet. We had over 14 inches of rain in the past week, unusual here. I added lots of litter to get the smell under control and give the hens something dry to walk on. The other (new one) was planned as a coop, and several inches of dirt was added. The dirt got damp during this rain, evidently just because all the dirt around it was wet, but will dry out in a day or two. I think it's going to work OK.

    If you go with dirt, I'd recommend you add plenty of dirt to raise it above the surrounding ground, as you will find yourself removing some when you clean. I figure I'll have to add dirt once or twice a year to the new one. Plan to phase the old one out.

    On the run (fenced field for me.) I read here that about 87 sq ft per bird is what is needed to maintain grass or other vegetation in a run. Since 10 sq ft per bird is considered sufficient on BYC, I see why most people's runs turn to mud. My field will provide this kind of square footage; maybe yours will, too. Curious to see this summer whether vegetation can still grow!

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
  9. Andora

    Andora Songster

    Aug 26, 2008
    Lexington, Kentucky
    I've found that sand is extremely helpful during our wet periods. I think if you had a dirt floor and put down a good layer of sand, then shavings or whatever you want for bedding on top, it might do well. When I had a run on my coop I filled the run with sand and it worked out great. (Now I just have the coop sitting in the middle of a big pen, took the run off because I got too many chickens to fit in it 24/7!)

  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    If the area around the coop has excellent drainage then you may be fine with a slightly raised dirt floor.

    If however the soil around the coop tends to be soggy, then as chookchick says you are likely to have a damp humid coop even if the floor is raised above waterline.

    In the latter case, if you really want a floor on the ground rather than raised wooden floor, tamping screenings very hard and flat and topping with close-set large concrete pavers would give you a bit drier coop (assuming you have raised this distinctly above grade). But you would have a drier coop yet (meaning not just less prone to flooding, but less humid and unhealthy) with a raised wooden floor, with at least 18" clearance (minimum) above the ground.

    For dirt floors, remember chickens tend to dig dusting holes. A dusting hole in a damp area can become a pond, and dusting holes can be pretty hard to fill in again solidly enough that the chickens don't just dig 'em out again.

    Good luck, have fun,


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by