The flock averages 33 dozen eggs a day, and Bahnck notes that they’re all spoken for before they’re laid. He sells them to several outlets, including a local deli chain that specializes in locally produced food.The hens quickly trained themselves to follow the advancing side into fresh grass. Initially Bahnck was concerned they might get pinned by the following edge of the moving coop. He designed swinging panels to encourage them along, yet allow them to escape if necessary.”The lower pipe on the frame is 12 in. off the ground when the home is moving,” explains Bahnck. “I used pipe strapping to fasten 2 by 8’s to the pipe so they would keep the chickens in, yet they could flap with the contour of the ground. If a hen gets trapped against them, they will swing out of the way, and she’ll get outside, but she won’t get squashed.”For Bahnck, a carpenter in a depressed economy, the chicken hoop house was a no-brainer. “Work was slow, and this was instant income,” he says. “My wife raises and markets purebred Berkshires and Tamworths for the pasture fed market, so we knew how to market. We knew there was a niche in egg production that this system could fill.””We sold them the frame, and Jeff and Alethea added everything they needed for the chickens,” says Garbos. “It worked so well we are going to offer a kit with everything needed.” Bahnck credits Greg Garbos of Four Seasons Tools for giving him a structure he could work with that fit the chickens” needs. Side walls were modified to only 5 ft. tall, and the overall structure is 20 ft. by 48 ft. Galvanized 1 1/2 by 2-in. mesh screening wraps around the entire house with an entry door for Bahnck. To shade the chickens, he used 75 percent shade cloth over the top of the house. Bahnck likes the low-labor system. “I get up a little before dawn and walk out to let down the doors on the laying boxes,” he says. “Then I go back to the house for a cup of coffee. At about 10 a.m. I stop by the coop to close up all but two laying boxes, fill the feeders and pick the eggs. They will have laid about 95 percent of their eggs by then.”
He then hooks his tractor to the point of the last triangle and slowly moves ahead. This distributes the pulling force evenly to all 4 points on the coop house frame. Spreader bars between the sides transfer the pull to the opposite side.
“The structure is varmint proof,” he says. “And it’s low maintenance. The waterers, feeders, nesting boxes and roosting perches are all hung from the hoop house structure. When it is time to move, all I have to do is hook up the tractor and slide it forward.”
Can chickens live in a hoop house?
Yes! As long as they have adequate shelter, clean nesting boxes, roosting space and are taken care of regularly, a hoop coop is a great style chicken tractor. Cached
Regardless of which way he pulls the house, one thing is always the same. The nearly 500 hens get excited and crowd toward the sound of the tractor. They know fresh grass and fresh bugs are coming.To move the “coop” house sideways, Bahnck raises the side frames and slides 3-in. pvc pipe under them in 4 places. He then rigs 6 pairs of chains, attached to the side of the house, in a series of equilateral triangles; the first three sets are secured to the side of the coop. The second two triangles are secured to the first three sets of chains. A final triangle of chains attaches to the second set of chains.
Chickens can handle the cold pretty well – after all, they are basically poofy, down coats. In fact, chickens are perfectly comfortable at 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit and do well to a few degrees below freezing.
However, a rubber flap at the back of your coop allows the pen to ride over the bird and not harm them, which is much preferred to an injured or dead chicken!We’ll explore the pros and cons of a hoop chicken tractor so you can make an informed decision about whether or not it is a good chicken coop style for you.Obviously raising chickens on pasture sounds like a good idea. But you can’t have chickens roaming free all over your farm! That’s where chicken tractors come in. If you are interested in raising broilers or egg layers in a mobile chicken house, let The Mobile Chicken House team know. We would love to help you get started! Hoop chicken tractors were built with pastured poultry in mind, so making them easier to move is a primary goal. At The Mobile Chicken House, most of our coops can be moved with a heavy-duty RTV or small tractor instead of always needing a large tractor close by. Generally, though, these hoops are a great option for farmers and ranchers, and it only takes a little ingenuity and work to overcome some of the minor cons of hoop coops. But there’s a good chance you’ve asked yourself this question frequently and feel disillusioned with all the available chicken coops – each claiming to be the silver bullet to make your farm more profitable and efficient. Many farmers know the frustration of having their chickens waste a lot of feed. In fact, a quick google search on “chickens wasting feed” brings up about 746,000 search results! If you make sure that your feeder’s height is even with the height of an average bird’s back, you can solve your problem. The chickens aren’t able to be picky and eat what’s given to them.Other styles of chicken coops are usually more expensive than hoop coops. That’s because arched chicken coops require less internal structure to remain sturdy. Instead of welded or bolted trusses, the structure is made up of curved bows and simple purlins. Putting a small door on a mobile chicken house would be like installing a garage door just big enough for your vehicle. You may be able to pull your car into the garage, but even a task as small as getting out of the vehicle suddenly becomes challenging! Regenerative agriculture is the idea of farming and ranching in harmony with nature. There is no strict rule book, but the holistic principles behind the system are meant to restore soil and ecosystem health and leave our land, waters, and climate in better shape for future generations.
If you are a chicken farmer, this is a question you should ask yourself regularly. After all, a chicken coop that saves you time, money, and labor would be an incredibly wise investment.However, hoop chicken tractors are covered with a tarp or plastic, so it’s not difficult to roll the covering up a few feet close to the ground and provide your chickens with a well-ventilated space!When chickens are in an enclosed coop all day, they do nothing to improve the soil and environment. But when they are put to pasture, they can make the soil healthier and even improve our lives.If you don’t ventilate well, you’ll see symptoms in your flock that range from irritated eyes and sinuses to respiratory distress, overall poor health, or even death in extreme cases.
Conventional wisdom among farmers and ranchers says that you should either be able to access your entire chicken coop from the outside or enter the pen without too much trouble.They are called chicken “tractors” because the chickens’ scratching loosens an inch or so of earth, mimicking what a tractor would do on a small scale.
We understand that you may want to build or buy a chicken house for as cheap as possible, but if you are raising chickens on a medium to large scale, the time and labor automatic feed lines save you will quickly pay off the price tag.
What we get is a hoop chicken tractor – an arch-shaped, floor-less, mobile chicken coop that is easy to move and use when a farmer wants to utilize regenerative agriculture practices.
A chicken hoop coop looks like an arch-shaped greenhouse used to grow plants. This makes sense because arch-shaped greenhouses sometimes go by another name: hoop houses.As you can see, this type of coop has both positives and negatives. At the end of the day, it is your decision on whether or not a hoop chicken tractor is for you.
Hoop coop pens are made from lightweight metal bent into a semicircle, attached to a bottom frame, and covered with a heavy-duty tarp or plastic. The ends of the coop are framed with wood or metal and have a sizable door in the front for easy access to the enclosure.However, if you want to include things like hanging feeders, or an automatic water line in your coop, you may find the lighter structure doesn’t do the best at supporting these things.Unfortunately, many chicken tractors are built as low, box-like structures. While these work fine in most instances, they are a serious headache when you need to access something like a sick chicken at the back of the coop.
That’s why today, we want to cut through the fluff and talk about hoop chicken tractors. We’re putting our years of experience at The Mobile Chicken House to good use to help you decide if a hoop coop is what you need to take your chicken farm to the next level. As a bonus, we’ll discuss features every chicken coop should have, no matter which style you choose.
With The Best Chicken Hoop, there are no bars to trip over so you can walk through the hoop carrying feed buckets with ease. In every other hoop. you have a bar to step over (and lift feed buckets over) every 4-6 feet. The floor level bars are just the right height to bruise your shins.Since the Best Chicken Hoop doesn’t have those knee knocker bars, the birds move along quickly during a move. With the floor level bars (everyone else’s hoop design) birds are slowed and occasionally crushed by the bars. Once you have a routine down you can move 700 birds in 2 minutes (The record is 35 seconds.)
Since the Best Chicken Hoop doesn’t have those knee knocker bars the birds quickly move along during a move. With the bars (everyone else’s hoop design) birds are slowed and occasionally crushed by the bars. Once you have a routine down you can move 700 birds in 2 minutes (Our Record is 35 seconds)
We have optional back saving add ons like our Auto Feeder System, Instant Water System, Solar Bank, and Lighting System. Each house can be used without any of these systems and they can all be added from the start or at a later time. We can even provide adapter kits to make these addons functional on any existing hoops you already have.With The Best Chicken Hoop, there are no bars to trip over so you can walk through the hoop carrying feed buckets with ease. In every other hoop, you have a bar to step over (and lift feed buckets over) every 4-6′ and they are just the right height to bruise your shins. The Best Chicken Hoop – is the only hoop on the market that does not have floor-level bars 18″ off the ground every 4-6 feet. I love engineering and I designed a bracing system that made the hoops stronger and eliminated the need for those knee knocker bars. Interest in pasture poultry production has definitely gotten more popular in recent years. Our journey towards managing chickens in the pasture started from wanting to eliminate cleaning a static coop! Turns out it has all kinds of other benefits besides eliminating a dreaded homestead chore.
How do you make a chicken hoop?
How to Build a Chicken CoopPrepare the Ground. … Pick Your Plan. … Build Your Coop Frame. … Add Coop Walls. … Put in the Floor. … Add Your Doors. … Building Nesting Boxes and Perches. … Build Your Run Frame.
To build the back frame and hatch, frame with 2×4’s this will give a place for a hatch and stiffen the back of the hoop. Cut the vertical uprights to length and attach by anchoring the hatch door frame by screwing them to the base frame.
Build the door frame by cutting the (2) 2×4 frame posts to length. They should be sitting on the base frame and go up to the height of the hoop. They should be about 28″ apart. Anchor the side door frame by screwing them to the base frame. Cut the header to length to span between the (2) side posts of the door frame and anchor it into place.
Filed Under: Chickens, DIY, Grow Food Tagged With: chicken tractor, diy chicken coop, easy chicken coop plans, hoop coop, how to build a hoop chicken coop, how to build a hoop coop, raising chickens on pasture
To strengthen the frame, cut (4) 2x4s into 16″ long corner supports. Miter each end at 45 degree angles. Screw these supports in the corners of your frame.
Then attach the cattle panels. If you are making an 8ft. long coop you’ll need 2 cattle panels. If you plan to make a 12ft. long coop you will need 3 cattle panels. Start on one side, and set the panel to the inside of the frame. Using bolt cutters, cut around the corner braces. Anchor the panels to the frame using fencing staples and sheet metal ties. Bend the panels to form an arch and attach on the inside of the opposite side of the frame. Secure the panels with galvanized plumbers tape or sheet metal ties and screws, on both sides. Tie the panels together every 12-16″ with tie wire.
Wrap a tarp over the top of the coop by tying with tie wire through the grommets and securing to the panels at the base of either side of the coop. At this point, you’ll want to use stakes to hold the coop in place if you have heavy winds.Yes! As long as they have adequate shelter, clean nesting boxes, roosting space and are taken care of regularly, a hoop coop is a great style chicken tractor.
Why are chicken coops off the ground?
A coop off the ground has increased air circulation underneath it. Not only does this help to keep the floor dry, but it may also help to regulate the temperature within the coop. The increase of airflow in the summer may help to keep the coop floor cooler.
We use heavy gauge poultry wire. This helps to prevent predators from entering the coop and contain the chickens. To apply the wire, wrap the chicken wire to the cattle panels over the sides, top, and ends stapling where the wire meets the wooden frames. Tie off to the cattle panels with zip ties or tie wire every food or so. The main thing is to make sure there are no gaps and it is secure and tight.
Is a 4x8 coop big enough for 12 chickens?
Light Breeds For lighter breeds, like the White Leghorn, chickens that are allowed to forage outside during the day should have at least 3 square feet per bird, so a 4′ x 8′ coop could house 10-11 birds.
This style of chicken housing is build without a bottom to the coop which allows the birds to always have access to fresh ground when they are moved regularly. The chickens can forage on plants and insects all while being protected from predators. We sometimes also use a small A-frame style chicken tractor that Grey designed as well when we need the chickens in smaller areas and moved closer to the house. Both work great for us because they are in a safe zone that doesn’t need to be cleaned!
Because we move our hoop chicken tractor regularly, we chose to keep the nesting boxes, perches, and the feeder/water separate to minimize weight. You could choose to attach these things if you are not moving your coop. When we move the coop we simply remove these items and replace when the hoop coop is in it’s next location.
You can get creative with the door you choose. An old screen door would work. If you have already built your frame, you can cut a piece of plywood to fit the size of the door frame. Face mount the door to the frame with a pair of hinges. Install the door latch to the opposite side of the door.
Typically it is cheaper to build a coop, especially if you get resourceful with where you get materials. If you are short on time or don’t have any building experience it might make sense to buy one.
Cut the header to length to span between the (2) side posts of the hatch frame and anchor it into place. Roughly halfway up the side posts attach 2×4 bracing that spans horizontally from door post to the cattle panel (this adds rigidity and anchor points for your chicken wire.) Anchor the panels to the frame using fencing staples and sheet metal ties (So far this is a repeat of what you built on the front of the coop.
To build this frame, screw the 2x4s together so they make a rectangular (or square) frame. When the frame is flat on the ground the 2″ face of the lumber contacts the ground and the Frame stands 4″ tall. Screw all the lumber together with 3.5″ construction screws.
Roughly halfway up the side posts attach 2×4 bracing that spans horizontally from door post to the cattle panel (this adds rigidity and anchor points for your chicken wire.) Anchor the panels to the frame using fencing staples and sheet metal tiesStart by building the rectangular 2×4 frame (four pieces). We use pressure treated wood for the base frame. Our coops are (8’x 12′ but the same design would work 8’x 8′.) 4 square feet of coop space per bird/8 square feet of run space per bird. So in this style of hoop coop you can comfortably fit 12 birds. Make sure to move them around the pasture every 1-2 days to give them fresh ground to scratch and peck. Typically greenhouse lengths are based on being divisible by 4 (feet spacing) For instance if you planned to build a 42 long greenhouse, consider going to 44 or even 48 feet. The longest greenhouse are normally 96 feet long this is because the poly typically comes in 100 ft. rolls and your poly must be longer than the house.
What is the spacing for hoop?
Nominal Hoop spacing is 4 feet O.C. on typical greenhouse/hoop-house construction , however you can space them closer if you like.
Nominal Hoop spacing is 4 feet O.C. on typical greenhouse/hoop-house construction , however you can space them closer if you like. On some applications such as summer shade or bird net structure applications 6 ft is acceptable provided the covering is removed before the winter season.
Sheri, you would use the combined square footage of the two areas together, since they have access to both: 48+24 = 72 square feet. This is 9 square feet per hen, which is close to our recommendation of 10 square feet per bird for confined chickens.
Chickens will be happier and healthier if they are let out during the day to forage. At night, they need protection against predators, so they should be kept in a chicken coop or shelter. The proper size of the coop depends on how many birds you have, what size they are, and whether you let them out to forage during the day or keep them confined to the coop.
How do you keep chickens warm in a hoop coop?
To help small coops retain heat, cover them with blankets or tarps during the coldest months. In a huge coop, you might lower the ceiling or erect temporary walls to shrink the space occupied by your chickens.
For heavy breeds, like Barred Rocks or Buff Orpingtons, if you let your chickens out to forage during the day, then the coop that you put them in at night should have at least 4 square feet of space per bird. Thus, a 4′ by 8′ coop would be adequate for about 8 birds.If you keep your chickens confined to the coop at all times, then you should provide 10 square feet per bird. In this case, a 5′ by 10′ coop would be adequate for 5 birds.
Bantams, being smaller, don’t need as much space per bird. This is one reason they are popular in backyard flocks. 2 square feet per bird is adequate if they are allowed daytime forage, so a 4′ by 8′ coop could house 16 bantams.
Is this just for the coop/run or does it include the hen house too? We have a coop, which they are always in which is 48 sq ft., plus a hen house that is above it, which they have access to during the day and sleep in at night which is 24 sq ft. We have 6 lg breed hens.
If the coop is too small, manure will build up quickly in it, and ammonia levels in the air can become quite high. This is not good for you or your chickens. Chickens will also tend to peck each other more, and they will be more subject to disease. It’s best to make sure your chickens have plenty of coop space.
For lighter breeds, like the White Leghorn, chickens that are allowed to forage outside during the day should have at least 3 square feet per bird, so a 4′ x 8′ coop could house 10-11 birds.
Below, we give the minimum number of square feet needed per bird. To determine the what size your coop needs to be, multiple that number by the number of birds that you plan to house in the coop.Normally, domestic cats will not harm fully mature chickens, but we have heard of feral cats harming even fully grown chickens. Your cats, being barn cats, might tend to be more aggressive than the “average” domestic cat. You’ll have to make the determination as to the age at which to begin letting your growing chickens begin free ranging.One of my chicken coops is a large shed that is raised only 4 inches off the ground (see it pictured down below). This is high enough for a little bit of airflow underneath of it to keep the wood from rotting, but in some regions of the world, this would not be high enough to prevent a major rat nesting problem.
What is a chicken hoop coop?
Hoop coop pens are made from lightweight metal bent into a semicircle, attached to a bottom frame, and covered with a heavy-duty tarp or plastic. The ends of the coop are framed with wood or metal and have a sizable door in the front for easy access to the enclosure. Cached
If you have to build or buy a larger coop, such as a walk-in shed with a wood floor, you should still try to elevate it some on concrete blocks. You don’t have to have it up very high, just high enough to provide some airflow, and high enough that rodents can’t nest underneath it.I know of a chicken keeper who had his coop only 4 inches off the ground. He had rats nesting underneath that then chewed through the floor. But what about 5 inches or 6 inches off the ground? Honestly, I’m not sure what the cut-off is.
The nesting boxes in coops off the ground tend to be waist-high as well. In many models, you have access to the nesting boxes from outside the coop. And even if you do have to open the door to collect your eggs, you can just reach straight in. No bending or squatting required.
Check out my free training video, Chicken Coops 101: Designing Your Chickens’ Dream Home. I put this video presentation together to teach you exactly what you need to consider when buying or building your first chicken coop.
How big is a hoop coop?
You can have a 10′ wide coop that is about 5′ high, or with more bow, you can have an 8′ wide coop that is 6′ high. As the cattle panels are 4′ wide, you can make your coop as deep as you like simply by zip tying or wiring more panels together. Cached
For more information (and photos galore!), check out my review of my Rita Marie’s chicken coop, The BEST luxury coop you’ll ever buy: Spoil your chickens with Rita Marie’s.Burrowing rodents are one of the biggest disadvantages to having a coop with no floor, and even some coops with floors will have rodent infestations. If your coop is built on the ground, and it has any tiny holes or gaps anywhere, rodents will get in. If you don’t have a lot of shade in your run, you may want to consider putting wood on 2 or 3 sides of the area underneath the coop so that shade will be available most of the day. Many chicken keepers have said that building or buying a coop raised off the ground is easier than leveling the ground for a non-elevated coop. Leveling the ground can be a frustrating task, particularly if you don’t have any experience.
As stated in the previous section, if you have a large, walk-in coop (like a shed), aim for about a foot off the ground. This is high enough to ensure that rodents won’t feel comfortable nesting under there. It’s also high enough to provide some protection from the elements for your chickens. And it will provide airflow to help keep your floor dry.
Additionally, if you have any small holes or gaps in your coop, snakes can be a major problem in some areas. Snakes can fit through very small openings that you may have a hard time even noticing. Some may kill your chickens, particularly if you have chicks or bantams. Others will eat your chickens’ eggs.If your coop is on the ground and you get a lot of snow, you will need to shovel the snow out of the way to get access to the coop entrance. If you have frequent snows, that’s a lot of extra work.
What is the spacing for a hoop house?
Hoops should always be positioned on 4-foot centers. Some growers choose 6-foot hoop spacing as a cost-saving measure.
If your chicken coop floor comes into contact with a lot of moisture, the floor can degrade quickly. Wooden floors will rot if they stay wet for too long. Dangerous molds and other pathogens may thrive.If you know anybody else in your area who is raising chickens, ask them what their experiences have been. Are their coops raised? Have they had rodents in their coops? This information should help you know the right choice to make for your chicken coop.Some raised chicken coops even have removable floors. And some have floors with hinges that can swing open downward, dumping all the bedding out below. Building your first chicken coop can be a truly daunting task, especially if you don’t have building experience. My husband and I have created a set of super-detailed step-by-step plans and video lessons to teach you how to build a raised coop for up to 6 chickens. If you can’t raise your coop up a whole foot, 8-10 inches would probably be enough space to deter rodents, but I’m not sure where the cutoff point is exactly. Let me know your experiences in the comments at the end of this article.“The little buggers were popping their heads up in the holes watching me! I looked down one of the holes and it was just crawling with rats under there.” For why I use sand instead of straw or pine shavings (and I why I don’t recommend pine shavings whatsoever), check out my article, The best chicken coop bedding: Sand vs. straw vs. pine shavings. Chicken coops built on legs, such as the one pictured at the top of this article, are popular for good reason. Below are 15 advantages to having a chicken coop off the ground.An even better idea is to wrap two or three sides of the empty space under the coop with a heavy duty, clear plastic tarp, like this tarp from Amazon, during the winter months (or rainy months, or whatever).
Even if rodents don’t get into your coop on the ground, they may nest underneath it. If there is a very small amount of space under your coop floor, which is very common with coops built on the ground, rodents will be able to get in there. They love the safety of the dark and protected space.
This is a really simple, low-cost solution to a run exposed to the elements. Your chickens will have a nice protected, dry spot where they can still spend time outside, and these clear tarps have a greenhouse effect. Your chickens will love the added warmth on those frigid winter days!“The reason that we raised it is to discourage rats from living under it. That was a problem when it was dark and shedded under there. They then came up through the floor and last week they started killing birds.”
A raised coop may also be warmer in the winter (although I don’t know if it will be enough to be noticeable). If your coop floor is in contact with the cold ground, heat will be drawn away from your coop, particularly if it has no floor. A raised coop doesn’t have this problem.
Another idea is to hang your feeders and drinkers underneath the coop, thereby protecting them from overheating in the sun. Chickens will not drink warm water, so this additional shade can really be helpful.
A coop off the ground has increased air circulation underneath it. Not only does this help to keep the floor dry, but it may also help to regulate the temperature within the coop. The increase of airflow in the summer may help to keep the coop floor cooler.If you’re worried about your chickens laying eggs (or, even worse, going broody) under your large coop, you may want to block it off so that they can’t get underneath it. So far, I haven’t had this problem under my shed, and I like to watch my hens and roos enjoy the space. You can see one of my Ameraucana roosters (Perly) and my Barred Rock hen (Scrappy) enjoying the space under the shed in the photo above.
Even worse, many anecdotes abound in which rats have actually gotten underneath chicken coops on the ground and chewed their way through the floor in order to get into the coop. One chicken keeper told her story this way:If you use sand bedding, your coop will also be cooler in the summer, regardless of whether your chicken coop is on the ground or elevated. For information on how to use sand bedding, check out my article, Sand for chicken coop bedding: Pros, cons, and how to do it right. When I first got chickens, choosing a chicken coop was one of the most stressful things for me. I had so many little (but important) questions that I couldn’t find reliable answers for. That’s why I put this video together—to answer all those questions for you in one spot. Also, know that if your chicken coop is on the ground, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have problems. So much of this just depends on where you live.
If your chicken coop doesn’t have a floor, or if its floors are weak or rotted, burrowing predators can be a major problem. Elevated coops can eliminate these problems. (For other ideas on how to prevent predation in coops without floors, see my article, Does your chicken coop need a floor?)
Rita Marie’s Chicken Coops offer incredibly high-quality, Amish-built chicken coops in all different styles. Even the large walk-in coops are built a bit off the ground for you. I purchased my latest coop from Rita Marie’s, a 6×8 walk-in coop, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
No matter what your experience level is, you will be able to build this coop with our plans and video course. The coop has 3 nesting boxes, a pop-door and ramp, two sets of roosting bars, great ventilation, and a window. It also has a large door that swings open for you to have easy access for cleaning.So, does a chicken coop need to be off the ground? Not all chicken coops need to be off the ground, but there are many benefits to having an elevated coop, including the prevention of high moisture in the coop (particularly in areas with run-off or flooding), protection from burrowing predators and rodents, extension of the size of the run, and shelter in the run from inclement weather, sun, and aerial predators.
If you want to build a coop with a drop-down floor—a hinged floor that opens downward to dump the bedding out below—you’ll likely need the coop floor raised to about 3 or 4 feet to allow space for the floor to open.
The raised coop will help to provide additional shade for your chickens in their run. They will thank you for this when the hot summer days roll around.The garden shed is on gravel, and so the ground underneath it stays very cool in the summer and provides my chickens much-needed relief from the heat. They also like to go under there for their mid-day naps and preening.
When you’re building or buying your first coop, you may find yourself asking if this is really necessary. You want to know whether or not you should follow this trend, so that you can make sure that you design your coop to keep your chickens as healthy and happy as possible.Now I use sand, and all I have to do is open the door and scoop the droppings out with a kitty litter scooper. It takes all of two minutes. I don’t even have to bend over.
Burrowing rodents, such as mice, rats, and voles, love to get into chicken coops. Chicken coops may provide them with protection and possibly food (if you feed your chickens inside). Large rodents, such as rats, have been known to eat eggs and chicks. Rodents may also transmit diseases.
Some chicken keepers have even converted the space beneath the chicken coop into a storage space. In this case, you’d want to enclose that space, and then you can store some of your tools or supplies in there.Some chicken keepers even put sand underneath the chicken coop so that their chickens have a nice, cool, shady place to dust bathe for the summer (and a dry place for the winter). It’s a chicken’s dream come true!
One of the biggest advantages to having a chicken coop off the ground is that the chickens can occupy the space underneath the coop, thereby extending the size of your run. Your chickens will thank you for this. They will love having the additional space.
If you live in an area with runoff, seasonal floods, or even just clay soil that doesn’t drain well (like I do), then you may have a problem with moisture in your chicken coop if it’s built on the ground. If you have a smaller coop that you want to build on legs, you’ll likely want to raise it higher off the ground for ease of cleaning. Most coops are built with their floors anywhere from 16 inches to 4 feet off the ground. Most of my coops are built with the floor 20 inches high, and these have worked perfectly for me. Because these coops tend to be waist-high, you don’t have to stoop down or get on your knees to clean the coop. These coops are a great option for older people or people with bad backs or knees.This post contains affiliate links for my favorite products from Amazon and Rita Marie’s Chicken Coops. As an Amazon and Rita Marie’s Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
Do chicken coops attract rats?
In short: yes, but maybe not for the reason you think. It is a common misconception that chickens attract rats and mice, but they aren’t actually interested in chickens. Plenty of food and a comfortable place to eat it will attract rats in no time.
However, this is really a minor benefit. If you have a coop on the ground and you use a lot of bedding in your coop, the cold ground will be less of a problem.If your coop is built on legs, there will be too much space underneath it for rats to build their nests. Any rodents under a raised coop will be too exposed to get comfortable.Another reason chicken coops that are built off the ground are so popular is because they can be much easier to clean. Back when I used straw or pine shavings for bedding in my elevated coop, all I had to do was swing the door wide open and then scrape the bedding out into a large tub for disposal.I will also say that if I had the choice to do it again, I would definitely raise my shed chicken coop higher off the ground for my chickens’ sake. I have a large garden shed next to this coop that is raised about 8-10 inches off the ground (it varies because the ground isn’t level), and my chickens love spending time underneath it. You can see my red shed chicken coop and the tan garden shed next to it in the photo below.
Additionally, moist coops will greatly increase the risk of frostbite in your chickens during the cold months. And if your chickens’ feathers get moist, your birds will have a hard time staying warm. This is especially dangerous for feather-footed breeds as they can easily lose their legs to frostbite if they get their leg feathers damp.
I don’t know if there are rodents nesting underneath my coop. I live in the foothills, so rodents are everywhere, but I also have a cat who is, as my husband calls him, “a mighty, mighty hunter.” I’ve never had the problem of rodents chewing through the floor. I’ve never even had a mouse in the coop. Maybe that will change, but so far, so good.How far off the ground does it need to be so that rodents don’t nest? Most sources suggest 1 foot off the ground as the ideal, but 8-10 inches is probably enough.
Have you ever noticed that many chicken coops are built elevated off the ground? Whether they’re commercial or hand-built, chicken coops raised off the ground are popular options.
We use these houses for broilers because they can be moved by hand every day to a fresh patch of grass, since otherwise the floor becomes a solid layer of chicken poop. Broilers don’t forage much even if you leave the doors open, which we don’t do, since when they’re young, they’re too dumb to come in out of the rain, and they also tend to sleep outside, where the hawks and owls can get them. Some people arrange their schedules so they always, without fail, are on hand to shoo the chickens inside and close the doors at dusk, but we decided to have a life instead!Lightweight stock panels are made out of heavily galvanized wire and are 16 feet long and about 4 1/2 feet high. They cost between $12 and $17 at local farm stores. We use two-panel houses to make a roughly 8’x9′ house with a ridge height of about six feet. This is good for between 50 and 75 broilers if you butcher them all at once. We butcher them over a period of two weeks, always choosing the largest birds, and in this case the house is good for up to 100 broilers, with care.
If you don’t do this, you create a chicken house that is inaccessible, which leads to fuss and bother, which in turn leads to chickens that are less well-kept than they should be, and chicken poop on your hands and knees.
We built a few pasture pens to Joel Salatin’s specifications, though ours were smaller. They were almost as unsatisfactory as the chicken tractor. Yes, they’re lower, so you can get into them (and then crawl around on hands and kness—helloooo, chicken poop!). Yes, they’re lots wider than they are tall, so they don’t blow over as easily. But they still aren’t built on skids, so they’re still impossible to move without a dolly, and their low roof not only makes it hard to do things, it’s hard to see what’s going on in the back (which is where sick chickens tend to hang out).We don’t use these houses for hens. Our hen-houses are heavier and we move them with a tractor a few times a year. The difference is due to several factors:
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, is an expert on free-range chickens, and is a semi-struggling novelist. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years. In addition, he holds down a day job doing technical writing at Workspot. View all posts by Robert Plamondon
Karen’s hoop-coop pens are made from with lightweight cattle panels bent into a semicircle, attached to a wooden bottom frame, and covered with a tarp. The ends are framed with wood, with a door or hatch in the front end.