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Question about coop floors

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Zola, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Zola

    Zola In the Brooder

    Dec 15, 2008
    My neighbor has tried to keep ducks, chickens, and turkeys every year since I moved here and lost them all to predators. A huge part of the problem is her coop just isn't sturdy, this last set of birds were lost to predators who came right through the floor.

    We don't want to make that mistake, and our "official" coop is in progress although with the way the weather has turned, we probably won't be able to finish it until spring. Chooks are fine right now--the former owners put an "addition" on our modular that wasn't suitable for living space so it works well enough for now (we have an outside door between addition and house proper), but we want then to have a real coop that's located more conveniently to their range area.

    While we would have preferred a poured foundation for the floor, that's not practical for this first coop because we're probably going to need to move it when we build our new house. Instead, we poured concrete pillars 20" deep that rise above the ground about the height of a concrete block to anchor the structure (flying chickens are fine, but no flying chicken coops!), and got some concrete blocks to support the center of the beams. We have pressure-treated lumber for the floor joists since those will be exposed to the elements.

    It was important to have the coop off the ground because it can get very wet--it doesn't flood, we already spent time getting the area properly drained--but with heavy clay soil, even pressure-treated wood on the ground rots in record time. I'm thinking it will probably also help with potential rodent infestation because the cats can get under there if they so desire.

    Still, knowing that the predators came right up through the floor at my neighbor's, I was thinking that maybe my best bet would be to lay 1/2 plywood on the floor joists, staple down some hardware cloth for additional reinforcement, then put another layer of 1/2" plywood over that.

    Or would 3/4" plywood be enough? I'm not using ANY particle board like my neighbor did, the minute the stuff got the least bit damp, it started falling apart.

    We're also debating the feasibility of putting some kind of apron around the base of the coop--I've been browsing the site and see it's advisable to sink whatever you use into the ground so it's hard to dig under it, but then we get into the whole damp-ground thing and I'm not sure how well it would last. I also know we would have to use hardware cloth--the predators my neighbor had went through the chicken wire like it wasn't there, so it may not be cost-effective to do any apron other than plywood for additional heat retention in the winter months.

    After all the reading I've done, I think I am going to insulate the coop, I think it will help keep the coop from getting really hot in the summer as well as help keep it warm no matter how crazy the weather.

    What do you guys think? I appreciate your advice! [​IMG]
  2. 4hLuvers

    4hLuvers In the Brooder

    Aug 17, 2008
    Bay Area CA
    What kind of predators are you asking about? Can they really get through plywood? If so, what keeps them from getting into people's houses?
  3. Riparian

    Riparian Songster

    Apr 21, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    They broke through plywood? Weasels can get through the smallest cracks.
  4. Zola

    Zola In the Brooder

    Dec 15, 2008
    Neighbor had particleboard on the floor, that's why I'm asking about the plywood. [​IMG]
  5. bearz

    bearz Songster

    May 20, 2008
    We have 2 layers of 1/2 inch particleboard on the floor. I doubt many predators could get thru that easily.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I'd worry that two layers separated by hardwarecloth would trap moisture and start rot, tho I have never actually seen it done so can't say for sure. It would be extremely aggravating to have to try to fix if it happened. If you *do* go with that plan, I'd suggest putting the hardware cloth and second (top) layer of plywood *within* the walls, so that the edges are not covered by the wall studs etc, to enable you to unscrew them and remove/replace if need be.

    I wonder how the pricing of metal flashing sheets (wide) compares with the cost of hardware cloth, for that purpose?

    Another option, depending on the size of the coop and what type construction you were planning (and how many strong people are available), would be to build the floor upside-down, next to the foundation, and staple or screw-with-washers your hardware cloth onto the undersides of the joists, lacing adjacent strips together with galvanized fence wire. Then flip the whole thing over onto the foundation, and install a normal 3/4" exterior-grade plywood floor.

    Good luck,

  7. Zola

    Zola In the Brooder

    Dec 15, 2008
    Quote:Ooh, that's a GREAT idea--this floor would be a hair under 10' x 10' so it would be very doable.

    It would be really nice if 3/4 plywood would be enough, as I said, my neighbor's floor was particleboard, and low-grade at that, so the minute it got moist in there, the stuff just started to decay.

    As far as predators go, just read the predator list and we've likely got them, skunk, coon, 'possum, fox, turkey buzzards, owls, hawks, coyote, weasels, likely a bobcat if that screech I heard recently is any indication, rodents of course, then there's the neighborhood dogs... we love being in a place where there's abundant wildlife, so we would far prefer to make the coop a fortress rather than constantly be trying to trap or shoot animals.

    People around here are pretty reasonable about their dogs, sometimes one of the neighbors lets his pack loose to help train them to hunt rabbits and it's annoying when a half-dozen of them come barking down the hill, but that being said, they have been raised properly, and if you tell them to git, they git, and they never chase the cats nor have shown any interest in the chickens--they are far more interested in what rabbits they can flush out!

    We had no problems this summer, but we supervised the girls carefully when they were ranging around just to be safe, and the cats were actually a help because they tend to discourage some of the smaller predators.

    What I might do is go with the 3/4 plywood and then just check underneath the coop with a flashlight once a month to look for any signs of chewing. We've also tossed around the idea of surrounding the coop and a small yard area with electric fence, we were thinking of doing that so that the girls could decide for themselves or not whether they wanted to be outside on lousy winter day.

    We've already surrounded a large pasture with electric fencing for them and the goats we're getting, we would probably just disconnect the solar unit that runs that and connect it to the fencing at the coop at night or during bad weather, and if we did, it would prevent most of the predators from even getting close to the coop. I'm sure the girls and the cats would take care of the smaller nuisances quite nicely on their own.

    We just want to make sure they are adequately protected, my neighbor ended up coming home to find all of hers dead, and we don't want that to happen to us. We're also hoping to set a good example that if we build a nice coop and don't have problems, perhaps it will inspire them to do the same for theirs if they try again, it seems really wasteful and even a bit cruel to get a flock and then half-a$$ their housing.
  8. sillybirds

    sillybirds Songster 9 Years

    Aug 5, 2008
    I used 3/4 tongue and groove plywood flooring for the floor of my coop. It seems improbable that a predator, short of a bear, could get through that! If so, then any other point of my coop would be equally vulnerable (i.e. walls, etc.). You could use the even heavier (I think 1 1/8 inch) tongue and groove plywood flooring if you want. I can't imagine hardware cloth being necessary.

    Good luck!
  9. Rhett&SarahsMom

    Rhett&SarahsMom Songster

    May 8, 2008
    I put two layers of chicken wire under the coop and then put the floor joists down and THEN put down some heavy heavy HEAVY wood over that. Not a poured concrete floor, but darn near.
  10. momofdrew

    momofdrew Songster

    We have cement blocks from home depot lining the coop floor area then hardware cloth stapled to the underside of the joists and then we have just deep layer of shavings on top of that... so far no problems with any thing...

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