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Earth-sheltered chicken coop

 
                          
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We got tired of frozen eggs and frozen water, and hoped an earth-sheltered coop with a sod roof would moderate winter temps. It works pretty well.



 
Jordan Lowery
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very nice that gives me lots of ideas!
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Really fantastic!
 
paul wheaton
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Have you measured the temps?

How long have you had this?
 
                          
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It's about two years old now. Haven't measured the temps, but it feels warmer in the winter. Probably mostly because it blocks the wind. The electrically heated waterer has never frozen in it, and it used to freeze constantly in their other coop.

If you stand by the "closed" sides when the rooster crows, it's very muffled. If you stand by one of the "open" sides, he sounds like a foghorn.

Just cleaned the old litter/manure mix, pitched it on top of the roof, and planted tomatoes, watermelons and beans up there. I'll let you know how that goes.
 
                  
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Your chicken coop is absolutely ingenious. You worked it into its surroundings remarkably well by nestling it into the ground.
 
Chelle Lewis
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Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
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Really neat! Practical solution.

Interested in a few of things.....
How big is it? Number of hens? Maintenance... a lot of work to keep clean.... or deep litter through winter? How have you buffered the wood from the wet outside.... plastic.... or some other kind of insulation?

Hens look really content.

Chelle
 
                          
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The inside is 10' x 11'. It's about 8 1/2 feet tall inside, with several levels of roosts. I keep about ten hens in it. According to most books it would accommodate a lot more, but I think overcrowding is counterproductive for several reasons. There are a couple layers of black poly on the outside of the wood. Cleaning hasn't been a problem. The neighbors are trained to dump the leaves they rake into it, and the hens scratch and shred them down to a fraction of their original volume. Spring and fall I fork everything out, and then spread it around the fruit trees, asparagus bed, or wherever.
 
Chelle Lewis
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Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
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You have a very effective little system going there Oblio13.

Nice neighbours too! 

Chelle
 
                    
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How cold does it get where you live??

Could you build one of theses like a root cellar in northern climates?

Or are there problems with filling a root cellar full of chickens??

We would love to see pics of this in the growing season.
 
                          
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We live in zone 4.

It is, essentially, a ventilated root cellar.

 
Ken Peavey
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OUTSTANDING!

Do you have any problem with water pooling up inside?
 
                          
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I did once, when it poured in around the door. I collected some buckets of really gooey mud from by a beaver dam and used it to form a slope away. It set up almost like concrete. No problems since then.
 
Ken Peavey
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The wood frame looks to be in direct contact with the soil.  Have you treated or charred the wood to protect it in any way?  If you were to build another one, what changes would you make?
 
                          
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It's pressure-treated wood, so it should last as long as I will.

If I were going to do it again, I would use the kind of post-and-plank construction described in The $50 Underground House book (which I unfortunately didn't read until after I'd built this). I would also have dug a drain-to-daylight and used a rubber roofing membrane just for peace of mind.
 
                    
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Great pic thanks!
 
paul wheaton
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Looking for video clips and pics of winter chicken shelter.  If you have anything like that or can get something like that, please visit this thread.


 
John Polk
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A marvelous use of terrain for a zone 4 hen house.  I love the fact that their front "window" gives them a ground level view of their yard.  Comfortable, secure housing is a huge step towards reducing stress in a flock.  Looks like you have met that goal.
 
Casey Halone
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I love the aspect of this that allows no loss of growing space. you could easily make the roof raised beds for all sorts of stuff. this ought to be implemented into more suburban backyards. I will consider this idea for sure when I get to designing our coop.
 
paul wheaton
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Two winter chicken coop designs. Both are designed to warm the chickens so that the chickens won't need as much food.

One is an earth berm design. The other is a portable design that is parked for the winter and surrounded by straw bales.




 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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It works. One of our winter chicken houses is earth bermed. Plenty of ventilation is important.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
Katy Whitby-last
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Location: North East Scotland
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It looks great - I'd love to do something like this but do you get any problems with red mite as there must be lots of hidey holes for them?
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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very nice coop, i like it
how much did it cost to build approx?
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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do you think it would work to have a big animal shelter much like the ones on Sepp's property set up to house chickens as well as other animals such as a yak/cow or pigs?
would the two animals stay together well?

basically im thinking the upper part of the shelter around the walls would be raised up and good for chickens and the pigs/yaks wahtever would sleep on the ground, thereby keeping predators away?

is this a crack pot idea or something tangible?
 
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