Floor for walk-in coop- is dirt okay?


5 Years
Apr 15, 2014
Hi BYC peeps! I am a new poster, but have been lurking and soaking up the enormous wealth of knowledge here on the forum for a while now! :) I will be getting my chickies this week and housing them in my indoor brooder while I work on my coop. I'm actually retrofitting a 4'x12' three-sided lean-to that used to shelter a horse. I plan on enclosing the 8' opening with double plywood doors for walk-in access, and believe I finally have my nesting box/roost/poop board locations nailed down (huge thanks to BYC posters for the Sweet PDZ tip!) My only remaining question is the floor of the coop itself. Is it necessary to build a plywood floor inside the existing wall footprint? (My biggest problem with adding flooring right now is that the interior of the shed is open studs, which would be difficult to "retrofit" a tight plywood floor inside [not to mention the added expense for treated joists/plywood].)
Right now my theory is that if I have the poop boards, I won't have (much) poop on the floor so I won't have to worry about a flat/scrapeable surface. If I leave the existing open bottom (dirt) and maybe even put sand on top of that, will that be fine for a floor base? I would frame in the door opening so there would be a 2" wood lip along the bottom of the door opening, and the added sand to the flooring I think would create an effective draft seal along the base of the entire structure.
Another option would be to "floor" with hardware cloth stapled to all the walls/edges,for predator protection, and then bury that "floor" in sand.
Let me know if either of those are an acceptable alternative to a plywood base, or if there's an important reason that I am missing for adding a solid floor! :)

Thanks a heap! :)
You don't have to have a plywood floor. There are plenty of dirt floor coops out there. I would make an apron of fencing or wire of some sort around the perimeter of the outside extending out about 18" laying flat on the ground. No need to bury it, predators, as smart as they can be, just don't get that they have to go back that far to start digging. If in the future you decide to put a floor in it, you can build sections of 2x4 box joists, lay them in there, attach plywood for the floor, then run plywood up they walls a couple feet to cover the open studs, then put 2x4 blocking between the studs to close them off. A bit of work and not really needed
I'm a huge fan of sand over dirt. By nature dirt generally has organic material that will hold moisture. Moisture creates a conducive environment to rearing bacteria and parasites. Sand is so much more sanitary. Also it's a whole lot easier to clean litter from sand. Either scrape with a leaf rake and scoop up. Or if on a smaller scale another member here had a good idea of using a kitty litter scooper.
A dirt floor with bedding on top is fine provided that the coop is on high ground and has no chance of being flooded. One draw back is that chickens can dig down through the bedding to dirt bathe and that can turn a harmless dusting spot into a mud hole from water migrating in during flooding rains. A joist floor is the best option but just laying plywood sheets over the dirt and then a hefty layer of bedding will work well. If you have digging predators then a wire skirt at the coop wall will be needed or plywood flooring.

If my coop floor was dirt and at grade level then it would be a flooded mess the few times we received all day rain events! The standing water drains away after a day or two but a flooded coop would be wet, musty, and muddy for a long time if I did not have the floor up 4 to 5 inches. Chickens can't scratch down through plywood so that is the main reason for a solid floor.

I just got my coop done and it's a dirt floor, we had a really hard all day rain yesterday and it held up well with the tin roof it didn't get to wet in the run and not at all in the coop. I was pleased.
All my large coops have dirt floors. I add some to bring the floor level to about 2 inches above the outside dirt level, then add bedding on top of that. I am in a dry area. We do get rains that dump water, but most of it runs off fairly quick. Not a fan of adding sand. With a dirt floor, it aids in the deep litter breakdown. together with adequate ventilation, there is very little smell if any. Right now in my main hen house, I have about 1 year's worth of bedding. Its almost time to clean it out, with almost zero smell.
Growing up, all i ever seen was dirt floors, in fact i have never seen anything but dirt floors in a hen house, what we call a coop here in central LA. is raised off the ground about 32 in.s with a wood floor or hardware clothe, and we raise our chicks to about a month to 6 weeks before putting them on the ground to allow for their immune system to develop and so you can easily get them trusting you easier, since they are up high, the human don't appear as big to them, i like to have all my chickens tame enough to at least pick up in the case they get out, you just put a bit of feed or treats close by you and when they come to get it, pick them up and put them back where they belong. One point i will make about predators is that they can be minks,weasels, coons, opossums or the dreaded chicken snake, all vents must be covered with heavy hardware clothe. digging predators are after a meal, minks and weasels will wipe out the whole flock just for fun and never eat from the kill.

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