seeking coop design roost/dropping board feedback!

cityeggs

In the Brooder
Oct 25, 2021
13
42
46
Bay Area, CA
We are new to chicken keeping and are currently building our coop. We're using the basic Garden Coop (https://www.thegardencoop.com/chicken-coop-plans.html) design, which is an enclosed run with an integrated raised hen house. We have 4 chicks of med/large breeds currently (Australorp, Wyandotte, Ameraucana (seems legit so far?), RIR/RIW sex-linked cross) and don't expect to have more than 6 at any time, since that's all we're allowed to have in our city. Adding any will be a few years down the road (I hope!) when our current mini-flock slows down on laying.

The coop floor is approx 3' off the ground and is 3'x5'x3'h. We will put two exterior nest boxes (entrance 18" tall) on one of the walls of this configuration to maximize space, and it has a large access door to aid in clean-out. Despite the fact that that seems pretty easy to clean, I'm still really tempted by the idea of putting in dropping boards/hammock to help keep things clean. My problem is whether I can fit them in somehow, which is where feedback would be helpful.

The wall that fully opens can be changed - doesn't matter which side at this point, as is the wall where we build out the external nesting boxes - can either be the open 3' or 5' wall. We will use 2"x4" for the roosts. While we could drop the floor 1' to make a 4'h hen house relatively easily at the moment, making the 3'x5'/sf larger would be difficult, since we're short on space in our yard, we've already bought the lumber for this size coop, and we are inexperienced builders, so too many modifications has the real potential for making expensive mistakes.

1. With the coop being only 3' high, is that enough room for full sized chickens to get under a dropping board at 12", and enough headroom with 12" above the roosting bar to get up/down and feel comfortable roosting? I'm leaning towards modifying the plans to lower the floor and make the house 4' tall, which would also mean dropping boards would be easier for me at 5'6" to reach and clean.

2. Is that enough room to make a long enough roosting bar for 4 - 6 hens to roost, while giving enough floor space for them to get up and down from the roosting bar with a 2' wide dropping board? I know we could always modify things down the road, but it would be so much easier to build it the way we want it just once, and with a city backyard coop set up, we have to choose our site/space carefully. I read on one thread here that chickens need a space for landing/getting up that's 2x the height of the roost - I don't see a way to do that without a ramp or something in any of these configurations. I'm also trying to keep the roost(s) closer to 18" from the walls to minimize droppings there. Here are the configurations I'm considering - does one look better than another? Is there a better one you can think of?

3. If I do configuration B or C, it seems like the only way they could safely get up/down would be a ramp/circular ladder up - would that work? And if I do a ramp, would you put it up to the dropping board and assume they'd hop from that to the roost (somewhere between 8"-10" up is what I've read is good for that distance?), or will that encourage them to walk in the poop and roost on the dropping board?

4. Will a big, low dropping board over most of the coop cause the problem of encouraging them to nest under it instead of in the nesting boxes? And/or, not use that space at all?

5. Is it silly of me to consider a dropping board in such a small, waist-high coop?

Thank you!!

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saysfaa

Crowing
Jul 1, 2017
1,227
2,765
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Upper Midwest, USA
They can walk under a 12" high ceiling or go through such a door but can't live under it very well. They need enough vertical space to stretch up and to flap their wings. And it just isn't very comfortable for long - based on the behavior of my australorps in a space with three structures varying from about 15" to about 3' high now that I put full deep bedding in. I'm going to take some back out to make it more comfortable under the structures again.

Don't forget the vertical space bedding takes... in the coop and in the nests

Plan A gives the needed linear inches but the chickens stick over both sides of the roost so most of one direction or the other wouldn't be usable... they need clearances for their fuzzy bottoms and more clearance for their pecky ends.

Plans B and C work lengthwise. I like C better to give a better angle getting up and down.

I'm having trouble seeing a net benefit of a poop board in this design.

You do have a run planned also? That they can access most of the day nearly every day? Food and water out there? Even so it is a little tight for four unless they use it only for roosting and access to the nests and all like each other pretty well.

Oh. I followed the link. It says big enough for 8 but it isn't. That would be taking square foot per chicken recommendations for commercial operations where they do one or more of the following to keep them from killing each other: cage individually, debeak, huge spaces (with a few hundred birds per room, there is opportunity for any given bird to stay 4-6' away from any other given bird... they won't need to from every bird in the space - I don't know how much explanation to give.)

I'm really sorry there aren't better plans more easily available. Most people who get a coop like this build another, different design within a year or two. You are at least building it yourself so the quality may be higher (thicker boards, better finishes, etc).

Anyway, a ramp would work (does take floor space, though). Circular stairs or ramp does not. Steps (platforms about as big as a chicken) would probably work best - one step may be enough. They may also be able to just hop down if it isn't much more than 12"
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
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Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
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1. With the coop being only 3' high, is that enough room for full sized chickens to get under a dropping board at 12", and enough headroom with 12" above the roosting bar to get up/down and feel comfortable roosting? I'm leaning towards modifying the plans to lower the floor and make the house 4' tall, which would also mean dropping boards would be easier for me at 5'6" to reach and clean.
I would prefer 4' tall. I think 12" is a bit tight, more "nestbox-esque".
2. Is that enough room to make a long enough roosting bar for 4 - 6 hens to roost, while giving enough floor space for them to get up and down from the roosting bar with a 2' wide dropping board?
I worry that it is a bit tight.


. I'm also trying to keep the roost(s) closer to 18" from the walls to minimize droppings there.

I think 12 inches from the back wall is enough space. BUT, if the back wall is soiled or not is highly determined by the space between the perch and the poop shelf. If the perch is way above the poop tray then the poop travels further.

My perches are close to the poop tray but removable. So I lift out the middle perch to clean. My poop shelves have a perch on the front edge, that one doesn't move.

. If I do configuration B or C, it seems like the only way they could safely get up/down would be a ramp/circular ladder up - would that work?

I would go with plan A, but make 2 perches, one down the middle of the shelf, and one on the front edge of the shelf.

I have perches on the front edges of my poop shelves and it works for my birds.

I worry that the plans B or C mean the birds have to jump down a hole. 1 foot space to hop off the perch/poop shelf is tight.


4. Will a big, low dropping board over most of the coop cause the problem of encouraging them to nest under it instead of in the nesting boxes?

Yes, I would worry about that.

5. Is it silly of me to consider a dropping board in such a small, waist-high coop

Well... I would make the coop bigger ;)

Then the under the poop shelf you can have nest boxes and/or feed and water.

Since it looks like the run is going to be fully roofed and predator proof, you could have nests, feed and water all in the run. In that case yes, you could just skip the poop shelf in the coop, make it a perch only.
 

Farmgirl1878

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Mar 17, 2017
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Piketon, Ohio
If you have sand on the floor of the coop, you won’t need a poop deck (board). That coop is going to be tiny, regardless of how you configure the roosts. You’re going to have big birds too, so I would suggest a larger coop and a much larger run. The outside access to the nest boxes is great! Except when it rains, or in my case, snows, so an overhang will keep everything dry while you collect eggs and also helps to keep the coop cooler. The one thing I would change about my coop (which is a walk-in coop) would be to have access to the inside of the coop from the inside of the run. In my case, a “people door,” in yours, maybe a panel that opens? Good luck with the build!

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Oct 9, 2021
34
114
79
Oakland, California
I'm in the process of building a coop from these plans (though I expanded it to make it an 8x10 run with an 8x4 henhouse) and I'm really regretting not having made the henhouse 4 feet tall...that still leaves two feet under, which seems reasonable to count as livable run space. I should hopefully be finishing building out the henhouse this weekend, I'm hoping to also fit a poop board (was thinking of having the poop board just off the ground by maybe 6 inches to a foot to keep lots of vertical space above?), I'll update with the finished interior and am curious to see what you come up with.
 

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Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jul 26, 2008
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Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
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I'm hoping to also fit a poop board (was thinking of having the poop board just off the ground by maybe 6 inches to a foot to keep lots of vertical space above?
With that little space under the poop board. .. I don't see any benefits of having one.

Just scoop the coop floor.
 

cityeggs

In the Brooder
Oct 25, 2021
13
42
46
Bay Area, CA
Thank you! You've all given me a lot to think about!

That makes sense now that the space/bird ratios I keep seeing quoted are from commercial operations - even with my limited experience, I knew I wasn't comfortable putting 8 birds in this size!

I plan to put food and water in the run, so the 3x5 space would just be for roosts and access to the nest boxes. We will also have a fenced off part of our yard for them to hang out in off the run during the day when we're around. We do have hawks to worry about during the day, but I think we can rig something up to deter them.

So, as is, the run is 9.5'x5', plus the hen house. Would this be too small to leave our 4 in for a week if we go on a trip? To be clear, we'd have someone checking on them and managing food/water/eggs etc., but I feel like it's an easier ask to ask someone to manage them fully enclosed, but a bigger ask for them to come back multiple times a day and make sure everyone comes in at night.
 

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