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Flooring for coop

 
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I have a 20X20ft uncovered chicken/duck run with a 4X8X4 covered coup. We have 2 ducks and 5 chickens. We live on the Oregon Coast where we get lots of rain and mild temperatures.

The floor to our coup is dirt but it get really muddy. What can i use as litter in the run to keep it clean? What should be used in to coup?

Ive been thinking about adding large sand or bark chips but im not sure if this is best. Ive tried straw and it gets soggy wet and doesnt dry out at all.

 
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I would dig down at least a foot and fill it with wood chips.
A trench or pipe draining the bed would be good as well.
 
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Our duck house has a cement pad (it was there already) covered with wood shavings, and we haven't had any mud issues. I also don't give my ducks food/water during the night. So, the bedding only gets damp with poop, but not damp with duck splashes of water.

My chicken coop has hardware cloth flooring covered by a deep litter of wood shavings. (the hardware cloth is to keep the rats/mice out, as well as burrowing predators). I really like wood shavings, and they do a good job of keeping things not muddy. I wouldn't dig down, because you'll get closer to the water level. I'd just pile 3+ inches of a bedding material on top of the earth. If you don't have chickens in with your ducks, you'll want to use a pitchfork to turn the bedding every day or two to keep it aerobic (and therefore not stinky) and sprinkle new dry bedding on top when it gets too poopy.  
 
pollinator
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We use the deep litter system for our chickens and it is great. Our litter is deep woodchips: 18" approx in the coop. When I first setup we had around 6", and it wasn't enough. Once it got deep it was much more consistently dry, fluffy and not smelly. The chickens scratch through it, and about once per week I use a garden fork and toss the chips underneath their roost bars.

In the run area I dump chips on the paths where we walk, and on any particularly muddy areas. I could put more, but we need more chips.

All our chips get delivered for free.

A few times now I have sifted some of the chips from the coop area and used them as a mulch to top dress my veggie garden beds.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:My chicken coop has hardware cloth flooring covered by a deep litter of wood shavings.



The best thing I ever did for my chickens is create a floor with hardwire cloth and NO bedding except in layer boxes. I’ve had these chickens for about 6 months and we’ve NEVER cleaned the coop once. And since it’s a mobile coop, we don’t need to clean underneath it either.

The model I built is called the Chickshaw. Of course if you already have a coop this might not help you, but if it’s possible to replace the flooring, I’d highly recommend it.

https://abundantpermaculture.com/diy-mobile-chicken-coop-plans-chickshaw-2-0-by-justin-rhodes/
 
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It sounds like the OP is looking to improve their current arrangement of coop and run, not redesign for a mobile arrangement.
 
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I had chickens in a coop with a concrete floor and straw, and it didn't get wet. but then I added ducks that turned into a horrible slimy mess almost instantly. Our solution was to sprinkle a thin layer of fresh straw every couple of days (chickens would not turn the straw as soon as it got soiled) I liked to concrete base, it's easy to clean and disinfect and puts of burrowing critters. I would embed hardware cloth in it if I made one again as rats will chew through the concrete eventually.
 
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I am hoping to start keeping chickens this year, and will build a coop. What I've read is that having an earthen floor with deep litter instead of a concrete floor supposedly makes a healthy ecosystem (microbiome?) and does not need to be sterilised. Does anyone here have experience of that? I could lay hardware cloth below a couple of inches of earth in the floor.

The only waste product biomass materials that I can get here are wood shavings/sawdust from the lumberyards, and autumn leaves (obviously once a year). Straw is rather expensive. Wood chips are not a "thing" here. Sand and dry soil are in unlimited supply. Precipitation is rare, so moisture is unlikely to be a problem.

What is your experience of pro's and cons of wood shavings, sawdust, or autumn leaves?
 
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Rebecca Norman wrote:

What is your experience of pro's and cons of wood shavings, sawdust, or autumn leaves?



I use wood shavings most often and they work great.  I haven't used sawdust, but my concern would be dust.  I tried using leaves one year and hated them.  They mat together and make a layer that is almost impervious to any kind of moisture and they don't seem to absorb anything.  I consider that a failed experiment.

You mentioned sand.  I have read about people that used sand for bedding and loved it.  I'll try to find some articles.  It may be that sand is your answer since it is readily available, and, I'm guessing, free.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Very helpful info, thanks
 
William Bronson
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 My favorite coop flooring was  below grade, rimmed
with a junky concrete curb.
The bottom was mostly cement board, with a layer if soil on top of that, followed by heaps of leaves, hay, woodchips, etc.
The water table wasn't an issue,no matter the time of year, and it does rain a lot here, but I also live on top of a hill...

My current coop is hardware cloth on 2.5 sides plus the floor, but I still use deep bedding.
I miss the depth I had with the subgrade coop floor.
 
William Bronson
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Rebecca, will your coop be in your attached greenhouse?
 
pollinator
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We have a cement floor in our coop to keep out rodents and we used to have sand on that. It was easy to clean up with a litter box scoop. That worked well until we added ducks into the picture. Wet sand is big mess and ducks will get water everywhere when eating. (I think that keeping ducks and chickens together is a bit like the "Odd Couple" if you think about it.) We ended up taking out all the sand and covering the cement with rubber cow mats that are 1/2" thick. Warmer on the feet than the sand and easy on the birds legs. Easy to squeegee up any mess/poop into a big dustpan or use a hand hoe when the stuff freezes. Not too slippery even when there is some ice on the floor. We now have a female duck who thinks she is a chicken. We have steps up to the roost that were installed years ago for an old less-abled chicken. The duck climbs up the steps nightly and sleeps on the poop board that is under the roost bar, next to her chicken buddies. Very cute!
 
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We live on the Oregon Coast where we get lots of rain and mild temperatures.

The floor to our coup is dirt but it get really muddy. What can i use as litter in the run to keep it clean? What should be used in to coup?

Ive been thinking about adding large sand or bark chips but im not sure if this is best. Ive tried straw and it gets soggy wet and doesn't dry out at all.



My chicken coop (no ducks) is a wood floor with a heavy layer of wood chips. If the coop isn't too poopy, I'll just rake out the manure and add another layer of chips. If it's getting too gross, I rake it all out and start over with all fresh wood chips.

It works kinda-sorta okay for us. I like it because the wood chips are free. As I rake out the chips, they get put outside in the run. When I need to add the chips to the garden, I take from those manure-filled chips. It works ok.

What I don't like is that, like you, we live in a damp climate. Because of this, it seems like the wood chips themselves are always a bit damp. I try to keep some big buckets filled and ready under a covered area to avoid rain. But they never seem to be really dry. So I keep the coop door opened as much as possible for better air flow. It's pretty much only closed at night.

I've considered river sand (also free to me). I'd be interested in reading along with you about what has worked for others. But in my own experience, wood chips are meh...okay...not ideal, but free.
 
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If you have an uncovered space AND ducks in with your chickens, you will have a muddy situation. I always withdrew water in my duck house at night. Actually, the ducks seldom had water in their coop. It had a solid roof, so no rain or snow fell inside the coop. If I had a duck setting eggs, I removed her from the coop and took her to the far side of the fenced yard where she did her business, had some water & food, bathed and groomed before heading back to her eggs. I winder if you have any fencing under the coop area? If not, you will eventually loose your poultry to some digging predator.

The suggestions about hardware cloth floors are excellent. To assist in keeping the shavings from compacting, try tossing out some whole grains on the bedding (shavings or wood chips...pine, not Black Walnut or Teak) in the late afternoon and the chickens will scratch the bedding in search of the grains. This will assist in keeping the ammonia fumes down and fluff up the bedding. Stal-Dri will dry out bedding, but most of the wettest bedding should be removed prior to using Stal-Dri (organically accepted).

During the wettest months, you might want to cover the top of the coop with a tarp to keep rain/snow out.

Good luck!
 
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We use Rice Hulls here for deep litter in the hen house. (San Francisco/East Bay Area)
The husks are a sterilized harvest byproduct of annual rice, and grown about 50 miles from us.
A compressed bag can be found at feed stores as it is also used as a large livestock stall bedding.

Rice Hulls last a long time and has less environmental impact than a mechanically chipped perennial tree.
Less worrisome than possibly importing plant pathogens or allopathic species( Like walnut)
It stays fluffy, even when mixed with leaves and other p lant particles the hens didn't eat...and the stuff(manure) they did eat!
Another plus for us: Rice hulls have a high silica content, resist fungal growth and moisture retention, decomposes slowly-
Which is a good thing when you compost the used litter for a soil amendment.
(Hot composting used chicken litter is safer for use on your veggie garden)
We also use rice hulls in our worm box mix and seedling starter instead of perlite.
I've also heard of it being mixed into cement as well.
 
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I use oak leaves over a dirt floor and I love it. We don't get very much rain so the coop getting wet isn't a problem but the run gets wet. I'm going to half to figure out how to store enough dry leaves to be able to keep adding more but I feel like it isn't going to be easy. I have been adding more leaves when we have a few dry days, but these days are few and far between. I really only thoroughly clean out the coop and run once a year. I think that all the ventilation in our coop helps.
 
Rebecca Norman
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William Bronson wrote:Rebecca, will your coop be in your attached greenhouse?


No, it will be a separate structure. I've gotten several promising ideas from this thread, thanks!
 
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Just south of you over the border on the coast of CA. Also very wet and rainy. Our coop is off the ground and we use the deep litter method. I think it would work on the ground too, but may consider some sort of mesh to keep the mud from consuming all your litter right away. Or maybe lay down pallets? It may be kind of a hassle come cleaning time in the spring but would keep a kind of barrier between the litter and moisture.

I saw someone else mentioned digging a foot down but I believe that would allow water to run in and pool.

Deep litter gives them entertainment when experiencing our atmospheric rivers as well, we throw some food scraps in there and they kick, dig and peck their way through the storms. I'm adding a swing too. This last bout of rain was intense, not sure if they left the coop at all those two days and I don't want our girls getting bored!
 
Melonie Corder
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Rebecca Norman wrote: Wood chips are not a "thing" here. Sand and dry soil are in unlimited supply. Precipitation is rare, so moisture is unlikely to be a problem.

What is your experience of pro's and cons of wood shavings, sawdust, or autumn leaves?




They aren't here either, other than redwood bark, which is surprising since we have many active lumber mills in the region. I called so many landscaping companies looking for hardwood chips, then trying for at least pine...nothing bulk available locally. I ended up buying the cubes of large chips at tractor supply. I bought twenty and I believe they are 8 cu ft each so it turned into quite a bit. I had uses other than my coop too. Only two went in our 8x8 coop and I add from a third here and there. Sawdust could potentially cause respiratory issues. Otherwise I think leaves would be fantastic, as long as they were truly dry. That is rarely the case around here but obviously depends on your area. Wood chips are really the way to be.
Sand is great but I think it holds the cold and doesn't provide the micro life our hens love to dig for. And it doesn't compost in the end (one of my intentions with deep litter.)
 
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we used to have a raised coop in a covered space - concrete block surround and filled it about 6" deep with extremely well decomposed compost.  dusty almost silky -  never saw a poo, dissappeared as if by magic. just forked it around occasionaly and added 'worm tea' from wormery. well drained soil below with lots of gravel - so yes agree with other comments must get the drainage right also otherwise it won't work!
 
Mark Captain
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Ps the coop itself was built with resin coated ply. The stuff used for trailer beds. Slide out floor for easy cleaning. Cheated on roosting bars with plastic grids from eglu propped up on bricks and square plastic rainwater pipe. Plastic yes I know not good. But did make it easy!
 
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