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coop design question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by HarlansHollowFarms, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. HarlansHollowFarms

    HarlansHollowFarms bana-bhuidseach anns gára

    Jan 16, 2009
    I live in a fairly cold part of the US, the question is will building my coop on the ground and employing the deep method for composting be warmer in the winter months then building a coop that was raised of the ground? I really need the compost as our soil is alkline and sandy and I want to be sure my chickens will stay warm when the temperature dips to below zero for day time highs.
    Any thoughts?
    Thanks
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    IMO yes, although I don't have like numbers or anything to prove it. Although, one partial advantage of a sufficiently raised coop is that you can have part of the run underneath it which is good sheltered wintertime area for teh chickens.

    Still, in your position I would go with a dirt floored coop on the ground. Just make sure to digproof the walls well, and don't locate it somewhere at ALL prone to flooding or meltwater runoff.

    JMO,

    Pat
     
  3. ghulst

    ghulst Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I personal like a wood floor the best. It stays drier. The cold will not hurt the birds.
     
  4. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    I like the Idea of a raised coop. I think it would say drier when the snow melts and also a place to get out of the weather for the birds.
     
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Laura, one advantage that an earth floor has is that your soil temperature is about 50 or 55°F below the surface (okay, I'm guessing [​IMG]). If you can thoroughly insulate the structure above it, the ground will keep your interior space warm when outdoor temps are down below zero. An elevated wood floor is likely to lose heat at those cold temperatures.

    The moisture is certainly a consideration. Your terrain has to be taken into account.

    Composting litter really cannot generate much heat. An efficient compost pile should be at least 3 1/2 feet deep according to Texas A&M and, hey, that's Texas, not subzero Montana.

    The advantage plenty of litter gives can be its insulation value. Expecting the litter to generate much heat from composting has to be something of a stretch. Unless, I suppose, that the decomposing litter is several feet thick.

    Personally, I have quite a bit of litter on a wood floor. That floor is the only part of the coop that isn't insulated - not the best decision I've ever made [​IMG]. But, I still feel that the floor is best for a very small coop. If it was larger, I'd go the other way.

    Steve

    Welcome to BYC [​IMG]!
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Agree with all the rest of Steve's post. Only,

    digitS' :

    Composting litter really cannot generate much heat. An efficient compost pile should be at least 3 1/2 feet deep according to Texas A&M and, hey, that's Texas, not subzero Montana.

    The advantage plenty of litter gives can be its insulation value. Expecting the litter to generate much heat from composting has to be something of a stretch. Unless, I suppose, that the decomposing litter is several feet thick.

    But remember they're talking about what you need to get the pile to 160 F. It doesn't take that much heat to warm a cold coop.

    I used to clean horse stalls semi-professionally [​IMG] and there was this one place in NJ that wanted us to pick out the manure but not the wet spots, and just add a little more shavings as needed to keep the top looking nice. Every now and then you had to dig out the bedding wholesale and start again. The bedding would be 1.5-2' deep at this point. Whoa nellie that was hard on the nose hairs, and had to be done when horses were turned out and no boarders or clients were around [​IMG]

    But you know what, 1.5-2' of horse pee soaked shavings gives off CONSIDERABLE heat. To the point of steaming quite vigorously and it would be somewhat more than pleasantly warm if you were curious and put your hand down there.

    The whole point after all of old-timey deep litter is for it to be DEEP, as in like "keep going til the cows' ears are scraping the ceiling" deep. I have never seen a controlled study of temperatures in coop sized (or barn sized either, for that matter) structures where some had true old-timey deep litter and others didn't... but based on my experiences with digging out those stalls at that one barn, I very seriously believe that meaningful heat would be provided.

    Also meaningful ammonia and water vapor when the litter was disturbed, of course [​IMG]

    So while it likely *can* provide some heat in some circumstances, I am not sure it is something you really want to count on.

    But the latent heat of the earth helps too, as Steve says. My chickens are in a big slab-floored building (which is not too different from an earthen floor, from a heat budget perspective) and it holds its temperature real nicely thru the winter.

    You just wouldn't want to do it in an area with less than excellent drainage.

    Pat​
     
  7. FarmGirl01

    FarmGirl01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2008
    AR
    I had a dirt floor in my chicken barn. I used the deep litter method. Only once per year did I do a complete clean out. I used shaving, straw and some hay the goats didn't eat. The hens turned the litter for me. It stayed dry and oder free. I used pallets under the roost and dropping boards. I was located in Kansas City at the time. Had very cold winters. The temp in the coop was cold. It would freeze the drinking water. The litter didn't help to warm the coop at all. Not that I expected it to.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Remember there are several VERY DIFFERENT things that people might call deep litter method (see other threads for exhaustive discussion).

    If it isn't on a dirt floor, very deep and very pooey, there is near zero chance of it producing any heat; also the effects would only be conspicuous in comparison to a similar non-deep-litter coop. You aren't generally going to be able to keep water from freezing, even with 'real' old-timey heat-producing deep litter [​IMG]

    Pat
     
  9. HarlansHollowFarms

    HarlansHollowFarms bana-bhuidseach anns gára

    Jan 16, 2009
    Thanks for everyones input. I really was not expecting heat from the deep litter method in the coop, the purpose for using that method for me would be an addition to my composted horse manure and other organics. I was just thinking the dirt floor would help retain heat. I plan on a fairly large coop, and will attempt to avoid water run off from snow and rain, but really we only get about 14in or less precip /year. I think I can keep it dry.
     
  10. jvls1942

    jvls1942 Overrun With Chickens

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    I have a concrete floor in my main coop.

    makes for easier cleaning, I think.
    the other two coops have dirt floors. eventually you are going to have to haul some fill back in to replace the dirt you remove while cleaning the floor.

    I live in wisconsin with lots of cold like minus 20 F and lots of snow..

    my water in the concrete floor has not frozen in either of the past two winters.. that is due to the fact that I insulated walls and ceiling 2 years ago. I have one 150W heat lamp for the baby birds I have in a cage out there..(8 royal palm turkeys)..

    the main drawback is the snow problem.. the bottom of the door freezes because of the condensation from inside .

    I would recommend that you make the sill of your door about 6 inches higher than the floor.. and make it so that the door swings in..

    my gates and some of the doors are quick removeable because I do not want to shovel that much snow.
    the gates to the unused yards are left open also..

    make provisions for electricity if at all possible..
     

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