Is a poop tray worth it on a chicken coop?

When I was designing our first chicken coop I was fascinated by the idea of building a removeable poop tray into the final version. This is where you create a slatted or wire floor to your henhouse and put a cleanout tray underneath it. The hens’ droppings then fall through the openings and collect in a tray for removal. Another variation I’ve seen is a raised henhouse where the entire floor is removabale (or at least tippable).

As I looked into it more, I began to notice that the coops that needed built-in poop trays were the ones where the henhouse was hard to access in the first place. The trays made cleanup not so much easier as practical at all.

But I wanted to design a coop with ample, waist-high access to the henhouse. No part of the henhouse would be beyond arm’s reach. So while the poop tray might have been an elegant solution to a problem — it was a problem that our coop wasn’t going to have.

To clean out the henhouse on The Garden Coop, we simply open the large henhouse access door and brush everything out into the run area where it mixes with the pine shavings and droppings in the run and begins composting in place. We then add some fresh shavings to the henhouse. That’s it. Some people will paint the floor of the henhouse or cover it with linoleum.

You can do the same with The Garden Loft, The Basic Coop, and The Garden Ark. Of course, you could add a droppings catchment tray of some kind into any of our chicken coop designs. Some people like to slip in a board or a large flat tray on the floor beneath the roost to collect the bulk of the poop. You can do that, but just know you don’t have to.

The exception among our designs is The Quail Hutch. You definitely want to insert a poop tray beneath the wire-floor cages on this one. 🙂

So do you need a sliding poop tray? Most likely not, as long as you follow these principles:

  • Raise the henhouse
  • Create ample human access to it
  • Have that access near or into the run

Now, if your design requires a built-in poop tray, then please, for the health and happiness of all involved, put one in! If not, save your money and time for the added features that really make a difference.


3 thoughts on “Is a poop tray worth it on a chicken coop?”

  1. Hi

    Just finished building our coop. It is off floor and has nesting boxes but no floor at all. Poop just falls down to ground underneath and composts down into the dirt. Girls seem to like it and move around inside fine (on roosting poles) but no poop to clean..


  2. Hi —

    We have finished our Garden Coop (yay!!!) and are about to move our 8-week olds out to the coop. I’m a bit confused and unsure about what kind of litter/manure management system to use and would appreciate advice. I was thinking poop boards, but the above notes are compelling, and they may not be helpful. Next decision is whether to use shavings or sand in the hen house. Many seem to like sand, and they just rake/scoop the manure out every couple of days in a minute or less.

    If I use shavings instead, with 6 hens, how often do you think I would need to change the whole bedding in the hen house? Do you try to scoop out the poop in between changes?

    Also, what do you do on the floor of the run? Right now it is dirt/gravel combination. Would you suggest covering it all in shavings? Using sand out there as well? Or just starting with the gravel and scooping the used litter (assuming I use shavings) from the henhouse onto the floor when I change the henhouse and just let that build up? If I do that, how often do you then shovel out the entire run area?

    Thank you very much. I really appreciate the help. Cheers!

    • Emily, thanks for your question and congratulations on finishing your chicken coop!

      We use pine shavings in our henhouse and allow a deep litter to build up in the run, pretty much as you’ve described. So you can spot clean the henhouse as needed (every couple days? week?), removing only the shavings that have caught the nighttime droppings by simply brushing them down into the run area. Then we keep plenty of straw or shavings in the run to capture the daytime droppings as well. This all gets mixed in by the chickens — or we help it along every now and then with a rake or pitchfork — and it composts in place. We only need to clean it out about once or twice a year. Some advantages of deep litter are that you can use the compost in your garden, it provides some warmth in the cooler months, and it purportedly has some benefits for their health.

      I have yet to try sand, so maybe someone who has can chime in to offer you more perspective there. But make sure you check out this post (including the comment chain) from Erica at Northwest Edible Life about her sand/deep-litter hybrid setup. She’s got a Garden Coop and has tried a few different things, so you can read what has worked for her. Hope this helps.


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