Dirt floor coop + deep litter?

enrgizerbunny

Songster
8 Years
Mar 7, 2016
325
322
191
Virginia, USA
I'm planning to build another coop (I got rid of my bird and sold my previous coop) and this time I'm going for broke and building on a permanent foundation. I want to do a layer or two of cinder blocks and then go wood framing up from there. This will leave a dirt floor, which I want to use the deep litter method for ease of maintenance. Is this a good plan or do I need some sort of covering for the floor? I have clay soil and I will have a french drain or something similar to keep water from entering on the uphill side.
 
I would suggest, for over-ground water flow, that you also sculpt the land a bit... and maybe use a run edge that forces the water to each side instead of allowing the water to enter the run.

I have dirt floor coops. They are great, and way better for deep litter. Deep litter is similar to a compost pile... and that works better when it has contact with the ground.

However, do consider digging predators. Think through what predators you have in your area... and make sure that they can't get in. You might want to install a wire apron around the coop and run.
 
I agree. Consider your drainage patterns, work with them, and work on them.

Don't forget to consider the way that the roof of your coop will alter the drainage. I've found that I'm going to have to add gutters to my new coop because the roof dumps more water than the drainage pattern can handle into a critical area. (Fortunately, since it's an open air coop on sandy soil in a hot climate it's not a major issue).
 
I would suggest, for over-ground water flow, that you also sculpt the land a bit... and maybe use a run edge that forces the water to each side instead of allowing the water to enter the run.

I have dirt floor coops. They are great, and way better for deep litter. Deep litter is similar to a compost pile... and that works better when it has contact with the ground.

However, do consider digging predators. Think through what predators you have in your area... and make sure that they can't get in. You might want to install a wire apron around the coop and run.

Good to hear for the DLM.

I think I should be good for digging predators. I'll be digging a foundation of concrete, then putting block on top of that, and then back filling to the block. This will also be essential for installing a foundation drain. There's much more planning to go into this (location, electrical, etc).
 
Our run is deep litter on dirt, and for some reason we get worse ammonia smells from there. Maybe something about the clay being so thick? I would plan for extra ventillation for the times of the year that are above 40 degrees.

We did a skirt of 18" of 1/2in hardware cloth, and only one burrowing vole has gotten in (we just found it half eaten, it wasn't pretty). Maybe you want to think about what your local pests/predators are like.

Good luck!
 
My coop is a pole barn with poured concrete cylinders instead of a full foundation. I do deep litter and deep bedding on a clay dirt floor. There is the hen house and two runs with solid roofs with gutters.
It works great.
A few things to look out for….
You definitely need an apron to prevent predators digging in.
You need to consider the height of the bedding when setting doors. I have a board that runs around the covered run to minimize the amount of bedding that gets kicked out. I allowed for about 10” of bedding and mostly that is OK but bin some places it is well over a foot deep
I have gutters and collect the rainwater to give to the chickens. In a way mine is too dry so I never get warm moist composting going on. But it all breaks down anyway and I would rather too dry than a wet stinky mess.
The chickens love the set up and dig big holes in the dirt for dust bathing.
 
Our run is deep litter on dirt, and for some reason we get worse ammonia smells from there. Maybe something about the clay being so thick? I would plan for extra ventillation for the times of the year that are above 40 degrees.

An ammonia smell in the run can often be traced to one of these factors:

  • Too high a density of chickens for the volume of litter used.
  • Poor upper-level ventilation -- heat and ammonia both rise so ventilation at the roof peak is critical.
  • Litter is somehow out of balance for composting to occur -- too wet, too dry, too acid, too alkaline, too cold ...
 
I think I should add that they will likely free range. The coop will be stick framed with vinyl siding and have open eaves. I may build an uncovered run that will keep dogs out, but will be easy for them to fly if they want. I want them to eat the bugs in the yard.

Tips are great and I appreciate them pertaining to the coop. My previous coop worked, well, but I want less maintenance than was required and more room so I can have flexibility (raising meat chickens, breeding, etc) down the road even if I only have 4-6 egg layers.
 
I think I should be good for digging predators. I'll be digging a foundation of concrete, then putting block on top of that, and then back filling to the block.
How deep will foundation be below grade??

Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
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I think I should add that they will likely free range. The coop will be stick framed with vinyl siding and have open eaves. I may build an uncovered run that will keep dogs out, but will be easy for them to fly if they want. I want them to eat the bugs in the yard.

Tips are great and I appreciate them pertaining to the coop. My previous coop worked, well, but I want less maintenance than was required and more room so I can have flexibility (raising meat chickens, breeding, etc) down the road even if I only have 4-6 egg layers.
Open eaves are just the start of good ventilation. You will want about half of the front wall of the coop to be ventilation, especially if you are in a place with heat.... and especially if meat chickens will be in that coop.

If the run is at least partly covered then it can shelter the wire side of the coop.

Also, if the run is 100% secure from predators then you can skip the opening and closing of the pop door and that equals less work for you.

As to meat birds.... the amount of stank and poo that they produce is WAY more than "regular chickens", which is why most people prefer to segregate them. But also... you only have for 2-ish months... so at least it is over and done with quickly.
 

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