dirt floor construction

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Buckhowdy, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. Buckhowdy

    Buckhowdy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    8 Rhode Island Red chicks are 1 week old and I've received 10 new baby Bard Rocks today. I've started clearing an area for a new coop. I'm planning on having a deep litter coop on a dirt floor. I'm in a high desert location in the Eastern Sierras. I'm debating whether to go to the trouble of installing a cinder block footing for the walls or just put the bottom of the walls on level ground. If I just put the walls on level ground, I'll need to bury hardware cloth around the walls to keep raccoon out. If I dig a footing and place concrete for the cinder block foundation, I could probably skip the hardware cloth. Either way I'll have a dirt floor. So it will either be walls on dirt or walls on a cinder block footing. Any body else have a similar situation?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Whateveer you do, there probably needs to be a way to fasten the hardware cloth to the bottom of the walls, so the coons don't dig between them.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You don’t have to bury wire, use the apron method. It’s a standard way to keep dogs from digging out of a kennel or predators from digging under a wall or fence. Just lay a piece of wire, 12” to 18” wide, horizontal at the bottom of the fence or wall and attach it to the bottom of the fence/wall so nothing can squeeze through. You don’t have to bury it, just weigh it down so it’s flat. In most places grass will soon grow through it and hold it down but I’m not sure about that for you on the dry side. You can bury it a couple of inches to keep it flat and out of the way of weed whackers or lawn mowers. The idea is that the predator goes up to the fence, starts digging, hits the wire, and does not know to back up. It’s pretty effective. And it is a lot easier than burying wire straight down.

    I don’t know what the ground is like, rocky or hard, or how deep you plan on setting those cinder blocks. In many cases they will be a decent deterrent to raccoons or foxes trying to dig underneath, but why would the cinder blocks be any better than a treated 4x6 foundation? It’s about the same distance for them to dig under. I don’t know what your predator pressure is or your risk tolerance, but I’d probably be OK not using an apron on either of those for the coop where I am, but putting an apron really makes it more secure. I’ve had what I’m pretty sure were coyotes try to dig into my run, not the coop section, and the apron stopped them dead. It’s a personal decision based on your risk tolerance as to how much money and effort you want to spend for whatever degree of safety you provide.

    I understand you are on the dry side of the Sierras but anything that touches the ground needs to not rot. Cinder blocks will be tremendous for that but you have other options. I used treated wood. If you are using the Deep Litter Method, that stuff will build up on your coop floor and will have microbes in it eating the poop and litter if you use the true DLM. That means it needs enough moisture keep those microbes alive. Those same microbes will also eat any wood it comes in contact with though treated wood or some paints will really help preserve that wood. I don’t consider what I do a true deep litter method since it stays too dry for that stuff to break down very much but my foundation is still treated wood for as deep as that litter gets.
     
  4. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    My Coop
    x2! When we built ours we ran hardware cloth about 2' up the sides of the run and then folded it at the bottom and ran it out another 2 feet or so. Just tacked it down with landscape fabric pins "temporarily" right on top of the ground. Well, to a former Navy family nothing seems to be as permanent as something we rig "temporarily." The grass as grown up through the hardware cloth and Ken can mow right over it with no problems. We secured it at the upper part with twisted wire. Works too - the first day the chickens were let into the run our over excited English Setter tried to dig under the run. A broken and bloody toenail later she decided they weren't worth it and gave up. We also ran hardware cloth around the perimeter of the coop, attached to it with screws and large flat washers and also extending out in an apron. I don't believe in 100% predator-proof housing. The moment I start to believe that, I just know that some critter is going to come along, find a hidden weak spot, and prove me wrong. But ours is a predator-proof as we can make it....diligence will have to provide the rest.

    We live in a high desert here and also used treated wood as a foundation. No problems with that at all. To use the DL method in a dry area, as Ridgerunner said you'll need moisture. I provide that by the judicious use of light sprays of water when it seems way too dry. Had a flood in the run once when the little lawn tractor sprinkler jumped the tracks and got stuck up against the run fence. Um, that was a little TOO much water. But DL can work in a dry area. I won't use anything else. When we started ours on dirt we added a few shovels full of garden dirt on top to help it get started. Some folks recommend putting some ACV in a spray bottle and inoculating the DL with the bacteria that's in there. Also it's a good idea not to just stick to pine shavings...they do break down but slowly. We add weeds from the flower beds (we don't use chemicals because mine is a hummingbird garden), grass clippings, fall leaves and whatever else we would normally add to a compost pile. The girls aerate it very well when they scratch around in there. During the hottest days of summer, they'd dig holes in it, lay flat with their with their wings extended out over the sides of the holes and doze. When it's cold they dig more holes but instead of laying flat they sort of burrow down in as compact as they can and, well, doze.
     
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  5. Buckhowdy

    Buckhowdy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The raccoon pressure hear is clearly a problem. I've seen them in my back yard before.

    I like the apron idea. That could save a lot of work. Since I live in the desert, and didn't really want to maintain a lawn, I hauled in 1/2 inch crushed gravel. It covers my 0.2 acre lot 3" deep. The gravel would probably hold down the apron.

    For the block stub wall I was going to mix concrete by hand for the footing then lay a few courses of cinder block on top of that. Treated wood like 4 X 6 or railroad ties could save work over a concrete block footing, plus would be easier for someone to remove when that day eventually comes. But will the chickens eat the treated wood? Will my chickens live longer being well preserved?

    I've been designing this coop in my head for weeks. The chicks are growing fast. I need to start making some progress. No time to waste.
     

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