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Angled walkway to allow chickens outside access from second floor-help

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by stephenb, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. stephenb

    stephenb Hatching

    Apr 3, 2009
    Hey everyone!

    I'm new to the forum, my name is Stephen and I live in NY. I've just recently started working for a farmer, and right now the big project is setting up a fence so that the chickens can get outside. This is turning to be a bigger project than anticipated, because the chickens are on the second floor of the building. The fence part is pretty straight forward, but it seems like there are so many complications with such a long ramp that it could be a problem. There's also a bottom floor to this building but it hasn't been used in ages and would need a lot of work before we could put chickens in it.

    We plan on cutting out a little doorway about 8 feet up, and then having the ramp come down from there. I feel like the farm may end up having to hire a professional to do this because it's so complicated, but here are my ideas:

    If the ramp is going to at a 45 degree angle, which is definitely steep but seems like it'd be ok, and the height is 8 feet, then the distance from the bottom of the ramp to the building would also be 8 feet. And since a^2 + b^2 = c^2, the ramp would need to be 11.3 feet long. Now IMHO, I'd say the ramp should be 12 feet long to make the angle a little less steep and to account for human error.

    So we have a 12' long ramp going from the chicken door to the ground. Next I was trying to think about the spacing of the "steps," especially since this is a very high, long, and steep ramp. My idea is that they should be placed about 4 inches apart, and each step be about 1 inch wide and 1 inch tall. This will give the chickens the ability to grasp on to them easily and be able to reach each step easily. That would mean there would need to be about 30-35 steps.

    Next, since there are quite a few chickens in this coop, I think it would be good if the ramp would be wide enough that two chickens could go down side by side. These are Rhode Island Red layers, so I figure about 1.5-2 feet wide would suffice. We're also planning on putting up wire on the sides of the ramp so that they can't tumble over the side.

    So what a problem huh?! I figure we'll also need extra support for the ramp about halfway up to make sure it won't collapse.

    So I personally don't have a lot of experience with chickens, though other people on the farm do. (I have a lot more experience with internet forums). I know this is kind of a long-winded and complicated problem but really any input you guys can give me would be appreciated. We really want these chickens to be free-range and be able to get access to the wormys and to sunshine, so that they're as happy as they can be.

    To recap: would 45 degrees be ok considering how high up the ramp is going? Is 2 feet wide ok even though there are a lot of birds, or should it be wider? Is 4" spacing of 1"x1" steps about right? Do you think this is even possible?

    Thanks in advanced for any suggestions or thoughts,


  2. Omran

    Omran Songster

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    Hello Stephen, I think you have everything figured out right and I really see o problem excuting your plan, just make the ramp about 2' wide as you already mentioned and you will be in a good shape, heck you can't do any damage it just 12' of lumber and if it does not work then you learned something new, I tell you what, I swear I am not a builder or a framer, but I am in construction through excavating and Landscaping, and yet I build a lot of building without even any plan, I always say what the heck if I make a mistake I just learn something new for ext time.
    Finely [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

  3. stephenb

    stephenb Hatching

    Apr 3, 2009
    Hey Omran, thanks for your reply.

    It's definitely true that a great way to learn is to make mistakes. I guess my main concern is saving my employer time and money. We've also got a bit of a time limit since we have some people from the press coming to look at the chicken farm next week- we're trying to get the chickens outside before they come. They're already free-running but we really want them to be free-range. Thanks again for your thoughts,

  4. orchidchick

    orchidchick Songster

    Mar 23, 2008
    south florida
    Hi Stephen,


    If the chickens have been living and roosting in their present place you may be able to get away with a "landing deck" and small ramp that doesn't go all the way to the ground.

    Don't forget! Chickens can and will fly quite high! I have seen people use a second floor window of a barn as their pop door with such a set up and it works fine.

  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    It sounds good to me. In my opinion, I don't think you need any kind of fencing to keep them on the ramp. If they fall off, which I would not expect, they just spread their wings and fly. I would not be surprised to see them fly down every morning instead of using the ramp, but RIR are heavy birds and would probably need some help getting back up 8 feet.

    You may need to train them to get back up or maybe even to get out. Chickens are creatures of habit and are suspicious of anything new, at least initially. Their curiosity will eventually ovecome this suspicion and they will learn to get out on their own, but you do have a bit of a deadline with the press coming. I've read enough posts on here to know that some chickens will come roaring out at the first chance but some will be very relunctant, initially, to leave home. A little scratch on the ramp could go along way to overcome any suspicion.

    Now to make your life a little harder with potentially conflicting advice. I'd consider putting the bottom of the ramp on something to keep it out of the dirt. Even if it is treated wood, it will still rot faster if it is in the dirt. At the same time, both ends of the ramp need to be securely fastened to prevent the wind from blowing it down. A sail 2 feet wideand 12 feet long has a lot of surface area to pick up wind load. Another reason to not have a fence, less surface area for wind load. I'd think securing it is more important than keeping it out of the dirt.

    As to construction, consider laying two 2x12's side by side, nail or preferable screw the cross strips (I'd probably use 1x2's to help keep them from splitting and to add some strength), predrill the screw holes to keep it from splitting, and you have your ramp. Your hardest part is securing the two ends.

    You might get away with using 1x12's, but I'd have some concerns on it being so light with winds in a thunderstorm. Also, a 2x12 should need zero support inthe middle. I'd expect it to hold your weight easily. I'd expect using just one 2x12 would work, but I don't have any experience with chickens using ramps. Depend on someone else for the width.

    Good luck with the project.
  6. whatthecluck

    whatthecluck Songster

    Mar 30, 2009
    I dont have advice but we have a similar need for our hens...second story door opens right up to a straight drop. We were hoping to put a ramp covered in chicken wire for the walk to the upper back yard to free range them. I had no idea they could fly off of something that high? We opened the door to the coop (in the floor) and a hen fell into our stairwell when investigating [​IMG] so I just figured they didnt have amazing skill in the flying department [​IMG]
    Let us know how it comes out...we will need to do this ourselves in another month.
  7. Last edited: Apr 4, 2009

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