couple henhouse spec questions


9 Years
Jan 13, 2011
augusta, georgia
I posted some pics of the coop progress and wanted to get some clarification on dimensions inside the henhouse.

1- My roof is slanted flat, so at the shallow end of the top roost the distance between the top of the 2x4 (where their feet would go) to the sheet metal roof is 11.5". At the other end it is 13.5" (it's a 6' board). From what I gather, this may need to be lowered. We'll have standard size hens (wyandottes, orpingtons, easter eggers or ameraucanas, rir's, barred rocks, etc.).

The bottom roost, which is about 4" lower than the top roost (12" apart horizontally) is 15.5" from the sheet metal at one end and 17.5" at the other end. I was informed that they would choose to use the higher roost. Well if the higher roost has inadequate headroom, I may choose to eliminate it since it is just "an extra". We'll have 7 hens so one 6' roost should be enough.

2- The other question is in regards to the nest boxes. Two nest boxes are currently in the henhouse. One is 7" inches off the linoleum and the other is 5" off the linoleum. The front piece of plywood on each nestbox is about 6" high. So add that to what they will have to hurdle to get into them (7 + 6 = 13", 5 + 6 = 11"). Add about 3 or 4 inches of pine shavings and you have that much less of a hop into each nest box. Can they make this hop into each nest box with ease? Am I clear? Am I making you think too hard?

I am thinking really hard
OK, I am wondering why the nest boxes are only 5 to 7 inches off the ground? A hen will jump up several feet and hop into a nest box, but they do prefer to jump up and 'check' them out. If yours are 7 inch off the ground, that is an odd amount. I am thinking you may just want to place them on the floor? If you have 7 inches plus the front of the nest, a hen would have quite a 'hop' and would maybe break eggs if she can't see where to hop. But, being so low to the floor, it is a waste of material to build the perch. One word of advice (I know this one) is IF you do build a perch, make sure it is at least 4 inches away from the actual front of the nest, so if a hen roosts there, the poop will fall to the ground and not into the nest.

Next, as far as roosting space, they will go to the top almost every time. If this is extra maybe just put the the roost 12" below the ceiling and just have the one. Average it out, that is. Show us some pics of the progress, off to hunt the posted pics. That is clear as mud, I'm sure.

ETA: Just looked at the awesome coop pics! Wow, nice job. I see your roosts you have now and with 7 old biddies, well, I'd leave them just as they are. The half inch is no big deal and having two is always better, they won't fight as much. That will prevent one or two hens from getting kicked off the roost in the middle of the night. I'd still put those nest boxes on the floor and make sure to put slanted 'roofs' on them or they will roost there as well. You coop is so cool.

ETAA: Ever though about putting your nest boxes outside the coop with one of those hinged lids? It would give you more floor space, therefore less cleaning.
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Beautiful craftsmanship! You're a wonderful carpenter.

I do see a few practical issues other than what you've mentioned about the roost height and nestboxes. Where you've positioned the roosts in the photos seems to me that it will make cleaning the nighttime droppings harder than it needs to be (you can scrape or rake out the bedding from under there, but you'll be raking it out over fresher bedding at the front of the coop). There's also a roost right over the chicken pop door, which means the chickens would be walking through their own piles of droppings on their way in and out of the coop. That's less than ideal.

What I would do is move the roost to another wall, making it perpendicular to your large, double access door (great feature, by the way). My small coop has this set up:


Put a boot tray like mine or some other kind of poo collecting device under the roost, and you're in business! It will be easy to clean out nighttime droppings.

6 feet of roost width for 7 chickens is slightly crowded. You could add another roost in an L shaped configuration along the back wall of the coop, but then you'd have the original issues with poo, etc.

12" headroom is seriously squished for a standard size chicken. It will make getting up and down hard for them and you may see some scraped combs especially if they hit a rafter and the wood isn't smooth. Honestly, I'd lower the roost to try to give at least 18 inches. 24 would be much better.
This is really good advice. I can see I'm going to have to completely re-configure the henhouse. That's okay, I'd rather do it now while the peeps are still in the house growin up big n strong.

And I'm giving in to the outside nest box idea. I will build two adjacent outside nest boxes with a covered "flap" on the back side of the unit (the plywood side with out the t1-11 groove wood). This will give me more space in there like you all mentioned. Elmo, I'll make the roosts lower and perpendicular to the two doors that open. I can run drop supports from the roof rafters to fix the roosts to. That should work. I'll get on it this weekend and repost pics early next week.

Thanks for your valuable advice! And thanks for the compliments too, by the way!
If you make the access "flap" the slanted roof to the exterior nest boxes, rather than the "wall" you will not have to bend over, be able to see in better and have less chance of material or eggs falling out.

Nice work, well done, congrats.
Don't forget about the possibility of poop boards ...they're an inspired idea
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Seriously, nice work. You could go into the coop building biz!

However, you may want to fiddle with the ventilation a bit, especially for the summer. Unless the coop is in the shade, it may get too hot for your chickens to roost in there even by nightfall. You could add additional vents under the eaves on the sides.

I couldn't see from the photos whether the latches on the coop and run doors were just pieces of wood that slide in and out of slots? If so, you probably want to beef that up for night time. They say that anything that can be opened by a young child can be opened by a raccoon.
I just thought of something else. I noticed that my chickens like to roost on the shelf supports themselves, the ones I use to hold up my roost. So in my big coop, I covered the top of the shelf supports with the same boards I used for my roosts. For my bantams, I used a 1 1/2" wide board, planing down the edges and sanding it smooth. They still love to roost on these supports. In fact, it's the higher ranking hens who claim them every night.

If you do something like that with your roost, you'll be gaining 2 - 3 feet of additional roost space which will give you the recommended amount without adding a second roost (1 foot of width per bird). A 6 foot roost, plus two 18 inch shelf support type thingies holding up the 6 foot long board. Just don't put the supports right up butting against the side walls, put them in maybe 12 inches or so.

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