Underground animal housing

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Thumper/inOkla., Mar 16, 2004.

  1. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Well Joan asked so here are my ideas on and undergound chicken house and I hope large barn too someday.

    I want it about 400 square feet, Keep changing my mind about the shape, if it should be square or rectangle, the people door is a challenge to fit in because we are almost flat where the buildings need to go even though the farm itself is on a hill. I am thinking a bulkhead door like for storm cellars with a counter balance, Installed to match the outside slope of soil line after it is back filled and buried.

    I am currently thinking to dig out about 3 ft, put in drainage (crushed rock) around the edge and away to the down hill side, build a post, shoring, poly, type structure, and bury it with the soil that was dug out from the hole to start with, I like the idea of a center pole bulding but that may be too hard to do, my next favorite style is a clerestory/shed roof style, with windows to the south.

    I think vinyl flooring would keep the chickens from digging inside, and block some moisture from coming up through the floor, deep bedding is a must of course. It will also protect the floor level from the digging out that happens with dirt floors when they are cleaned, (each time you scrape the floor clean it gets lower than the original level, and soon you get puddle spots)

    I probably will not decide until we are out there digging the hole exactly how to do it, I am really bad about doing things that way.

    I am open to ideas from out there too!
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It will need a ventilation stack to draw the moisture out. It will draw moisture from outside and from the animals breath. To damp can cause pneumonia in livestock.
     

  3. I haven't seen Joan's post yet, so don't know what she asked about.

    For clarification, do you mean an in ground chicken house, or an under ground chicken house? As an example, swimming pools are in ground and not under ground as in a cave.

    Manure quickly turns to ammonia if proper ventilation isn't used.

    Chickens need lots of sunlight, partly to influence them to continue production, partly to help sanitize from the UV light. Artificial light can provide the light for production, but unless you add UV of some sort----- well never mind.
     
  4. joan from zone six

    joan from zone six Well-Known Member

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    sounds pretty neat - i would think the advantages realized in an earth-bermed home or an earth-bermed greenhouse (minimization of material required, temperature stabilization, storm safetyl, etc) would also apply to a chicken coop - and, earth-berm is mucho easier than underground to build -
    i believe, if i were doing it, i'd give consideration to a multi-sided structure rather than to the traditional square or rectangle - the added structural integrity and the ability to use material of shorter lengths might justify the added time for designing and building something unconventional -
    go get em, thumper
     
  5. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a big old 1909 cattle barn that is built into a hill - can drive level into the upstair hay mow, while the other side is also ground level about 9' lower.

    It does stay warmer, and lots of other good things.

    Three points.

    1. Very dark. Don't skimp on lighting. Esp for chickens, could be a problem.

    2. Ventilation!!!!! Do _not_ skimp on ventilation, gets very musty & damp.

    3. Drainage!!!!!!! Run tile, gravel, etc. Do _not_ skimp on drainage.

    I cannot emphisize # 2 & 3 enough. Over & over.

    --->Paul
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I cannot see in my mind's eye how an underground animal containment building would have any advantage but I can see lots of disadvantages. You need the natural sterilization that occurs from sun light for animal health and the problems with ventilation and light requirements will drive the electrical bill thru the roof literally. IMO you are on a path of disaster with this project.
     
  7. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    agmantoo.... I agree... and I have studied Gary Oehler's tapes a LOT!! IT seems a lot of work just for chickens...... Why doesn't the 'poster' make a nice little 'get away' storm shelter/library..... summer cool spot for Humans out of that plan? :confused:

    Too much work with what I belive to be disasterous results for animals; who were MEANT to be outdoors!
     
  8. revontulet

    revontulet Well-Known Member

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    I've seen underground greenhouses. Dug into hillside windows facing south, so it did get alot of light. They kept food stored in the back since it stayed a consistant temp. I've also seen human dwellings made this way so I don't see harm in it for chickens.
     
  9. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, in my part of Minnesota it was -20 several nights this winter, and it gets over 95F with lots of humidity in summer, so the moderating effect of building into a hillside is a good thing. But you really have to watch the ventilation & the drainage. And chickens need light, not sure how well that critter will do in a earth shack.

    --->Paul
     
  10. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Interesting responces, 1st it's Mike (not Gary) Oehler, and building a chicken house using the Underground House Book's PSP system is something we would concider FUN and usefull, both for the experience and for the tornado/high wind safe house for animals that will contribute to our well being and future income.

    I want it under the soil line with a hill over it, to enhance drainage, with windows at least on the south side, hopefully on the east as well, or even more.

    Why bother? Have you seen Moore Okla. in the last few years? I lived just a few miles north and stood in our driveway and listened to it in person, praying as one of the largest tornados in history passed by, my former father and mother inlaw where in the hallway of their home in Midwest City, as it hit and the roof and most walls where gone. In just the last 2 years, our neighbors out here have lost expencive barns to the high winds. (80mph and up strait winds) they had/have insurance we don't. If and when our buildings are knocked down it is our pocket the repairs and replacements come from.

    manure and urine produce ammonia (which is nitrogen) when not balanced with carbon. Basicly, if it smells it needs more sawdust.

    Animals need the outdoors, yes they do, and I have the darnedest time trying to keep them out of MY house and in the outdoors, where they are meant to be, they seem to like warm dry places to live and sleep as much as I do.

    as for light, we are off grid, the animals free range as much as I can get them away from my house. I have had chickens since our first year here, they have an LED night light and that is it, I have more eggs than I can eat, or sell so far. and underground houses can have windows as well as fresh air flow.

    Joan's post was on another thread, I thought it proper to start a new one.

    natural sterilization from sunlight dosen't happen in the shade of a roof anyway.

    Ventilation and dampness can be problems in over tight above ground buildings also. Or make it less tight and there could be drafts which can also be deadly.

    I have played with the idea of a round or 8 sided room, and decided I really like 4 walls, It's odd but I get dizzy in round rooms.

    We are planning to build our dream home as a underground house. Both my husband and I have always liked that idea, even since childhood, it's right for us. but I must have light and breezes too.

    p.s. I almost felt as if I had asked for money and free labor :eek:
     
  11. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Thumper/inOkla
    "I am open to ideas from out there too!" statement in your first post
    and from your last post..."p.s. I almost felt as if I had asked for money and free labor " and from the content in the last post it appears you already had your mind made up and did not want to be confused with meaningful inputs. Why did you bother to post at all?
    Agmantoo :no:
     
  12. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Well, agmantoo
    One example of the many.


    Frankly, I was suprised by the overly negative contributions.
    does being open to other ideas mean, please bash my thoughts?
    And don't bother with experience or science to back up your negative
    remarks in the process?

    Can you find short comings in my understanding of underground construction?
    You have said you could see no advantage and listed 4 disadvantages <if I count right> and you proclaim it a disaster before it is begun.

    Are my offerings of the benefits, of no value in a sharing of ideas?
    Would you be happier if I bemoaned the error of my ways and gave up because you and others don't agree with me?

    I will apologize for to you for my "confusion" and failer to see your "meaningfull input", what portion of your input was meaningful?
     
  13. joan from zone six

    joan from zone six Well-Known Member

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    thumper - just mention underground construction and folks get all tightened up - can you imagine the degree that oehler has been hammered over the years? but i'll bet he's got a pretty thick skin by now
     
  14. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Thumper, I'm with you. I was living just a mile or so south of where that giant tornado hit, and was standing in a parking garage (stupid stupid!) watching it happen :eek: --- acouldn't see much except crazy flashing lights and stormy stuff, but I never want to go through anything like that again.

    My feelings: anything which can protect you and yours from tornados and high winds is alright with me. Not to mention, you can easily build outside areas for the chicks to hang out during the day. :)
     
  15. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    countrygrrrl, could you hear it? movies just don't do the sound [and the effect it has on the listener], full justice.
     
  16. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Yes. Even worse, though, was the radio broadcast. Can't remember which station it was, but it was eye-witness coverage and the guy couldn't do anything but scream OH MY GOD OH MY GOD over and over again.

    Was without telephone or electricity for days. Everyone not in Norman (I was on the far north side) thought I was dead! :eek: Took me a day or so to be able to navigate the roads to see the damage but once I saw, it was OH MY GOD all over again. Everything gone to the horizon.

    :no:
     
  17. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I understand the needs of the animals well being and it is frrom there that I submitted my truthful response. Other than the health of the animals that you intend to subject to the experiment, I could give a concern. Go for it ! I regret that what I posted is not what you wanted to hear. :(
     
  18. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I'm right on the edge of a storm right now. I look out my front door - beautiful, clear skies, nice sunset.

    My entire front yard, however, is filled with marble sized hail. And I look out back to the north, and it looks pretty darned insane.

    This is normal weather for us. We get 60-80 MPH winds, tornadoes, golf ball sized hail, torrential rains, whatever all the time. Not too sure how good hail would be for the chickens.

    I think thumper can easily create an underground shelter and provide adequate outdoor area for her chickens. It's unlikely our 60-80 MPH winds could blow the coop away or our hail could break the roof in.

    In essence, for the kind of weather we have, it's a great idea.

     
  19. Steve L.

    Steve L. Well-Known Member

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    Thumper/inOkla -

    I've been thinking about and researching underground/earth sheltered housing for 30+ years, and it's amazing how many people envision a pitch dark, humid, unventilated pit when you try to talk about it. I mentioned it to a girl friend (years and years ago) who responded that way. We were sitting in her walkout basement apartment at the time, which had windows only on side. I had to point that out to her. Go figure.

    agmantoo, it don't have to be that way.
     
  20. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Steve,
    I have seen pics of the Australians that live underground in the opal mining areas. That and a berm house are fine for a few humans in a relative large structure. I am not debating the underground structure. I am only pointing out that for a chicken housiing facilty there are to many short comings. It was already stated they intend to be off grid. Chickens do not have human habits and for a chicken to thrive the conditions differ considerably. Have you ever been inside a layer house? I have, I own one. Egg production is dependent on light. Chickens have sensors over their body that are activated by light to bring on egg production. A large population of chickens require totally different needs as to ventilation. The build up of gases within a confinded area are catostrophic. Nautral ventilation in a bermed building will be inadequate. The project as a chicken house is not economically justifiable IMO. That is the point I have failed to make.