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Deep litter on concrete base?

 
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Hi all, I am very excited to announce that my wife and I will be permanently moving to our new "homestead" in a couple of months (9 weeks 4 days, but who's counting...)
I've been planning jobs to get us off to a solid start and
I'm thinking a few critters should be top of the list. The inlaws house (base camp until ours is built) has a concrete drive which is almost impossible to get a car on for various reasons.

In my eyes, it would make a perfect spot to keep a few quail and rabbits. I'm currently 1500 miles away so can't show you any pictures but it is basically a concrete pad next to the house with a short (2, maybe 3 blocks tall) retaining wall on 2 sides. It already has steel t posts on the side opposite the house, with more forming a canopy/roof structure over the top.

My idea is to build a 3rd retaining wall to hold back the wood chip, and cover the existing structure in tin/mesh to keep the predators out.

My only concern is the concrete base, would this cause us problems with moisture not being able to drain away, and soil life not getting in to help break down the bedding? Whilst on the subject of moisture, are we going to end up with damp in the ground floor of the house with all that woodchip on the other side of the wall? I really don't like the idea of having to put a load of damp proofing against the house, if it goes that far it would be easier and cheaper to just build a seperate run.

I like the idea of a concrete base as we could keep the rabbits in a colony (I refuse to cage an animal unless it's for it's own good) without the risk of them digging out, or something else digging in, but if it's going to cause headaches then I'll come up with something else.
Thanks in advance!
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Is there room to build another wall with a space between it and the house wall?  A large enough space to get a rake in to clean out debris, at least one foot wide.  Other than not wanting the animal run right up against the house, I don't see any downside to having a concrete floor, as long as you put a roof over to protect from rain.  This way you will be able to control the moisture level of the compost.  As far as soil life, simply adding garden soil periodically will take care of that.  Eventually the compost will develop its own ecosystem.  I envy you having so much of a composting animal system already built!

 
pollinator
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Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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Might be different where you are, but around here, if feed is near a slab, rats quickly take up residence under the slab.  

I've never noticed termites in my woodchips, but I keep them well away from the house as well.
 
Tony Hallett
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Tyler, excellent idea! Yes, there's plenty of room for another wall to seperate the pen from the house, it hadn't even crossed my mind.
Gray, we have a cat who would hopefully help control any rats. Not that I've seen any on our visits, plenty of mice though.
Then again, a couple of traps would provide a nice protein boost for the chickens when we get that far!

Termites may well be a problem, where the house has stood empty for so long the sofa legs have gotten a fair bit shorter thanks to the little buggers.
 
pollinator
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Maybe keep the chooks inside to keep the termites at bay!

Then start fitting ant caps to stumps if you can.

I always dealt with vermin under slabs by flooding the nest every now and then.
Yes its cruel, tell me a better way?
 
Tony Hallett
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Thanks for the tip on Ant caps, not something I'd ever heard of in the UK (current home), we don't have a lot of problems with termites here, but definitely something I'll incorporate into our house build in the future!

As for the rats, whatever works!
 
pollinator
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Our deep litter chicken run is on a concrete slab, almost exactly as you describe. We included a waterproof roof, which is a big help, but more than half the side area is open mesh, so we get some wind blown rain in still. Provided it isn’t excessive, it seems to dry easily enough.

As Tyler has suggested above - all you need to prevent moisture issues at the house wall is a small air gap.
 
Tony Hallett
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Exactly what I was hoping to hear, thank you Michael!
We don't get a great deal of rain there through the summer, and the valley funnels 90% of the bad weather from the same direction so keeping it dry shouldn't be too difficult as most of I will be shielded by the house.
 
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