Overhead in a Hen house?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Razrbckfan, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. Razrbckfan

    Razrbckfan In the Brooder

    Apr 6, 2014
    I am thinking about building a hen house out of pallets. How much overhead does a chicken actually need? I am thinking about a 8x8 house. Thanks
  2. Primo

    Primo Songster

    May 1, 2013
    They need enough overhead to be able to fly up (or jump up) to the roost. So your roost height is the deciding factor. If your roost is two feet from the floor then you probably want at least four feet coop height.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Some of it depends on your climate and the style of coop you build. Chickens need ventilation in any climate and at all times of the year. In cold weather you do not want a breeze blowing directly on them. There are some styles of open-ended coops that can be used in really cold climates but a real simple way to achieve ventilation without a breeze hitting them is to have the ventilation over their heads and have the coop high enough so any breezes that come in through that ventilation is over their heads.

    Chickens need to be able to get to the roosts and they need to be able to stand up while on the roost. How tall is your tallest chicken when standing up when standing upright and stretching a bit? That’s your minimum. Any ventilation considerations go on top of that.

    Ammonia is created from wet poop. Ammonia is lighter than air and can harm their respiratory system if it builds up. I strongly suggest you have at least a small opening above the height of the tallest one’s head when it is standing up. It doesn’t take much of an opening to get rid of the ammonia, the larger ventilation openings are more for controlling humidity build-up in cold climates and to just get rid of heat in hot climates. In the warmer months or in warmer climates a breeze hitting the chickens is not a problem. It is usually a good thing.

    Are you going to be working in there? What height will make it easiest for you? You and your comfort are important considerations too.

    The higher the roost the more clear area the chicken needs to spread its wings and fly up to the roost and more importantly, fly down without hitting walls, nests, feeders, or waterers. Your type of coop and how you arrange it will play a factor in that, but I suggest you make the roosts as low as you reasonably can and still have the roosts the highest thing in there so they want to roost on them. You may be able to get them to use ramps.

    I integrate a lot of chickens so I want the roosts to be high enough that a chicken can perch on it without an adult being able to peck the feet from the floor. That gives the weakest chicken a “safe haven” to get away from a bullying adult during integration. If you don’t plan to integrate that is not such a strong consideration.

    The way I suggest you determine coop height is to determine the floor height, including any bedding you will use, then determine where your nests go and the type of nests. Then put the roosts about a foot above the top of the nests. Next, determine how tall your tallest chicken is and make sure any breezes from ventilation passes over its head.

    I really don’t believe in magic numbers for chickens. We keep them in so many different conditions that one magic number can’t cover all of us. I do suggest you do not build to the absolute minimum but give yourself a little extra room for a margin of error. If you design and build to the absolute minimum you leave yourself mo flexibility to deal with any problems that might show up.

    Good luck!

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