We've got neighbors who have chickens and they run free and don't even have a coop but we live in phoenix and it's pretty warm here so I guess that's fine for them but we choose to build a coop and run and ended up needing it because our dogs wouldn't stop killing our chickens. They even broke in to the run a few times. It's been a bit rough but we now have a dog proof run and coop. We had a battle with disease with our chickens and lost three (from a small flock of seven). We know another person who has chickens and her chickens have bare dirt floor and she says she rarely has to clean it. It seemed to be going well for us, no strong smell because of how open the run is but I'm beginning to think it isn't sufficient for taking "good" care of our chickens. I bought pine shavings and DE to spread on the ground. Has anyone used this method and how did it go? Also we have one other problem with our design that someone might have a solution to. We put a ledge to the nesting boxes and a ladder style roosting bars opposite it and the girls refuse to use the roosting bars and are using the ledge to the nesting boxes. The nesting boxes are up only two to three feet from the ground perhaps we could just remove the ledge the girls would have no problem getting in still? I just don't know. After we'd built the nesting boxes we hadn't put up the ledge right away and one of the girls was found dead in the coop with apparently a broken neck. I think she fell trying to either get out or in of the nesting boxes but it seems strange from such a short height to have such damage. Their roosting bar in the run is higher than the nesting boxes. We need to get them off the ledge though because they are pooping in to the nesting boxes because they sleep butt in to the nesting boxes head and body out on the ledge. Thanks for any advice about either the flooring of the coop and run or the ledge.