Modifying a horizontal storage shed


Feb 16, 2021
I'm planning to get a horizontal storage shed and convert it into a coop. Put it up on some cinderblocks, add a chain and a wedge to securely lift the top and provide ventilation, place some perches in it, and cut a few holes then cover them with translucent plastic to provide some light. I can open one half at a time for cleaning and egg collection while having the other half set up with roosts. I'll put nesting in the bottom, the bottom is slanted slightly so will be easier to clean, I can add a heater inside without worrying as much about scorching it, and it should stay snug and dry inside. In the winter, we've taken to tossing a thick blanket and tarp around the coop for heat and will likely continue. So, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to set up and how to do it and I'm pretty happy with the idea. Light and portable and sturdy so I can move it around, it ought to last for years and years, we can re-arrange the inside however we want as the flock gets bigger or small, and this ought to work well. Our old coop is on its last legs, and I want something safe and warm for them. Which brings me to a really basic "how big" question! How wide does a coop need to be for a chicken to easily access a perch? Our current coop is about 3 feet wide and they don't have a problem getting up, but the perch is also pretty low. They'll need to do a bit more flapping and hopping to get up on the perches in the newer, taller shed. If I expect a hen to be able to reach a perch that's about four feet up, especially one of the big heavy breeds, what's the best setup? How much space do they need to launch those chunky bodies up there? If I do "steps" with multiple perches at different heights, how much space do I need to leave to make it convenient for them to pick the perch they want?


Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
Can you please post a link to what it is your are thinking about converting into a coop?
Where are you located in the world, in general? You can update your profile with that information as it is very useful to know when answering questions in future threads you may want to start.
I can add a heater inside without worrying as much about scorching it
I would worry very much about scorching, torching and burning it to the ground with all inhabitants with it.
and it should stay snug and dry inside
Dry: yes. Snug: NO. You do not want a tight coop, especially in winter. You want as much ventilation as you can manage. As close to 1 sq ft per bird as you can get.
In the winter, we've taken to tossing a thick blanket and tarp around the coop for heat and will likely continue.
You do not want to try to trap heat. You want to keep the air flowing through the coop to remove moist, ammonia laden air and keep the air as fresh as possible. If the birds have no drafts on them strong enough to open feathers while roosted and the coop is very dry, they keep themselves warm.
warm for them.
Again, no. They keep themselves warm. Not the coop.
Which brings me to a really basic "how big" question!
4 sq ft of floor space per bird with 1 linear foot of roost space per bird. More floor space if they don't have a large covered run to use during winter and won't be able to leave the coop for long periods of time.

I have my poop boards at 34" off the ground and the roosts centered 13" above the boards. There is a ramp leading up to the boards. About half the birds use the ramp, the others fly up to the boards then walk the boards to where they want to perch then hop up.

The higher the perch, the more clear horizontal space they need to fly up and down.
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12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Welcome to BYC.

Yes, please add a link so that we can see what you mean by "horizontal shed" and tell us your general location (you can add it to your profile), because climate matters.

The Usual Guidelines

For each adult, standard-sized hen you need:
  • 4 square feet in the coop (.37 square meters)
  • 10 square feet in the run (.93 square meters),
  • 1 linear foot of roost (.3 meters),
  • 1/4 of a nest box,
  • And 1 square foot (.09) of permanent, 24/7/365 ventilation, preferably located over the birds' heads when they're sitting on the roost.

How many chickens do you have? We can help you work out all the numbers. :)

Ventilation is key both winter and summer. Chickens have very delicate respiratory systems (remember the canary in the coal mine thing?), and ammonia rises so it's absolutely critical to provide adequate ventilation at rooftop level.

Chickens tolerate DRY cold very well -- down to 0F or below -- because of their built-in down parkas but moisture + cold = frostbite due to the moisture in the air freezing onto their combs and feet. So again, ventilation at roof level is critical in the winter as well as the summer.

This photo is from an article on cow barns, but the principle is the same for chicken coops:

If you live in a severe winter area you will find this article useful:

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