Your Chicken Questions Answered by a Veterinarian. Honest and Practical Advice

Can you keep chickens on concrete?

The short answer to this question is yes, chickens can be kept on a concrete surface however with this being said, doing so will require extra work on your behalf. Personally, after having tried to integrate concrete slabs into our run we don’t believe there the best cause of action, however, in this article, we’ll be discussing the obstacles which you may come across when keeping your hens on concrete, how to keep your hens on concrete, some scenarios where we believe it would work along with some alternatives we think are far superior. If any of that sounds interesting then stick around for a few more minutes and continue reading.

Obstacles with keeping hens on concrete

Probably the biggest concern when keeping your hens on a concert surface is the drainage issue, we personally have had to deal with this problem a great deal so know the ins and outs of drainage pretty well. 

Concrete does not allow water, droppings, or food for that matter to be decomposed fully into the ground. This results in further complications you may not be expecting, your coop will start becoming extremely messy, the combination of all different substances will all collect and rot resulting in your coop giving off a pretty nasty smell.

The hens will be living in an extremely dirty unhygienic environment which can lead to an increase in illness among the flock, especially if they’re continuously wet and muddy. The rain then further adds to the problem making everything 10 times worse, if your run is not fully protected from the rain then you can really expect a serious mess when having a concrete floor.

We found that if the run wasn’t weekly cleaned thoroughly with a course broom and sometimes water the dirt would accumulate rapidly, this isn’t the kind of environment you want your hens to be living in, if you can help it we’d advise you keep away from having a concrete floor and instead go for something with a better drainage capability. Note this issue won’t be as bad if you’ve only got 3 or 4 birds however still isn’t pleasant.

If your all for giving extra time for cleaning your run then concrete flooring isn’t that much on an issue however if it’s possible, from personal nasty experiences we’d advise you to try stay away from it.

Some scenarios where we believe it would work 

There are no two ways about it, concrete flooring is suited better to different environments. For example, we had a coop the corner of our garden, shortly after getting the hens we, unfortunately, discovered there were some serious issues with the drainage in the ground under the run and coop. This resulted in the contents of the coop remaining on the surface, making a nasty smell as well as making the run extremely messy. It got so bad it eventually led us to install concrete slabs. These were hard work to look after and maintain, however, with regular cleaning we found it partially solved the issue. 

When it came time to replace the flock we did relocate the coop to a better suited location and stuck with our trusty wood chopping floor. We can assure you, we won’t be making this mistake again, if your unsure about what lays under the ground of where your planning to have your coop we’d highly recommend digging a foot or so down. If you find large lumps of clay as we did, the area will have hopeless drainage. However, if that’s the only suitable area for a coop then using concrete slabs could work.

How to keep your hens on concrete

When looking to keep your hens on concrete, there are a few different things we’d recommend doing. 

The first being to keep the concrete clean, we find using a course brush to sweep up all the contents of the run works most effectively. Even though this can sometimes be time consuming, once you get into the routine you should able to go through the process fairly efficiently.

Using water during this process can work for you or against you depending on the situation, if the ground is already soaking wet then adding more water will only create more of a mess, however, if the droppings aren’t easy to scape of with the broom adding some water should loosen them up enough for you to clean the concert. As disgusting as this sounds, we can’t stress how essential it is to keep things clean.

Sweeping the concrete clean is what we found to work best, depending on your coop and run you’ll have to use this basic principle and adapt your cleaning for the best results.

If your coop is similar to ours, then dumping all the rubbish in the surrounding ground should allow it to decompose and actually benefit the ground. Believe it or not, chicken droppings are an excellent fertilizer, perfect for if you have plants growing around the coop. Another way to put the waste to good use is by having a compost heap.

Finally, hens will end up replacing the mess you clean fairly quickly so bare that in mind when you commit to having a concert floor. It can work however after trying different options we wouldn’t go back, if you are able to avoid it then it’s defiantly worth it.

Some great alternatives

In our opinion wood chipping is the best material to use as a run floor, it absorbs the wet, helps with draining, and minimises bad smells. Finding an alternative substance that does all this may be difficult. We found that this material is perfect for the job, only replacing it once a year means its a cost effective way of keeping your hens in the perfect environment. Not to mention the wood chipping floor keeps your hens entertained, they can peck around in the wood searching for insects and other treats, this can help when it comes to minimising bullying within the flock and keeping the hens happy.

We recommend about 6-8 inches of woodchopping which is quite thick, however, using this much does mean your drainage is excellent and the sometimes nasty smell then hens can work up is kept to a minimum. In our opinion it the best of the best, definably worth trying if you’re having an issue with cleaning and smell. 

Conclusion

All in all, having a concrete flooring should be avoided if possible, it’ll increase your work as well as be difficult to clean, it’s a far safer option to stick with mud, however, we found using woodchopping’s the best of the lot. If it’s your first time keeping hens or you’ve been keeping them for years we’d defiantly recommend giving woodchopping’s a try.

So there you have it, a quick insight into whether you can keep chickens on concrete, if you found this article useful then feel free to check out some of our other @easyhens.com

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