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Unusual chicken coop?

 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
Posts: 457
Location: Utah
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I'm planning what may be an unusual chicken coop. I've never done chickens before.

I will be placing the coop central to four "range" areas and I'll rotate them during the growing season.

My specific question is about the coop. I want to do it below grade, with reinforced walls to keep out the diggers. We have a major problem with gophers, and rats use their tunnels. I want to go approximately two feet down and do one side with glazing for extra heat during the winter. The glazed side will be covered during the summer.

Will digging the coop into the ground create problems for the birds? I have thought about the cleanout problems, and I think that can be resolved. There's no groundwater to be considered and we're in an area with low humidity so water shouldn't be an issue.

What problems am I not seeing? And how can they be resolved?
 
John F Dean
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Location: southern Illinois.
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You have not indicated the size of the coop or the number of birds.  If you are certain of the security issues, I dont see a problem. But I do have to ask ....why?  It has been my experience that chicken create enough body heat to keep the coop  warm.
 
Lauren Ritz
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John F Dean wrote:You have not indicated the size of the coop or the number of birds.  If you are certain of the security issues, I don't see a problem. But I do have to ask ....why?  It has been my experience that chicken create enough body heat to keep the coop  warm.

I haven't really decided yet. Probably 5 or 6 birds, maybe a few more but that's a good start. In the plan the coop was about 5x7, but I'm still working on the details. The idea with the "greenhouse" was that I want to create a separate fodder area along the north wall so they have fresh food year-round. The plants would need the light. I figured that digging down a few feet would help with that as well as vermin control. My concern isn't so much cold or heat as temperature control/stability, avoiding extremes of either. There will of course be venting so excess heat shouldn't be a problem.

The other main reason for digging down was to lower the profile so it doesn't look so obvious from the street, since I'm in a subdivision. I have never done chickens before and I don't want to create problems or make mistakes that are easily resolved or avoided.
 
Joshua Bertram
Posts: 386
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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This is not the same thing, but it is a below grade coop in a swimming pool.  Best thing I've done for gardening (I copied Paul Gauchi's idea mostly).  
10 birds, lots of eggs,
never have any smell because the chickens are constantly kicking the chips around burying their feces/the carbon masks the smell,
have an endless supply of awesome garden compost (lots of work sifting the finished compost from the wood chips though),
when it rains I can pump the water out and use it as compost tea (hundreds of gallons with a good storm),
plan on planting a Pakistani mulberry in it this year for more shade and food for the birds,
I never have to clean it, just shovel in more chips, and sift out compost (again, it's a lot of labor)
all of my yard clippings, leaves, table scraps (even meat), coffee grounds, and pretty much anything organic goes into it.

I'm considering getting meat rabbits, and having them free range the pool with the chickens in the future.  I may have to section the rabbits off to their own living spaces, but the birds will still able to get to all areas due to their ability to hop/fly.  The rabbits can dig into wood chips and escape the desert heat?  They won't be able to dig out due to the plaster on the pool.

Anyhow, good luck, and hello from Ivins!
Curious to see if/how you make it work.

Here's a thread with lots of pictures about my coop.  Edit, forgot to put the link in.  Here it is.  https://permies.com/t/134433/Composting-wood-chips-pool-water#1140443

Josh
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
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Location: Utah
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That is amazing. Now I wish I had a pool!

I was planning to use dry leaves for bedding--deep litter, just add more leaves and shovel it out once or twice a year. Sounds like that might be a good option.

I'll try to post pictures as it develops. I have part of the chain link I'll need, so fences are first.
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