Is a poop tray worth it?

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 floor to your henhouse and put a cleanout tray beneath it. The hens’ droppings fall through the slats 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 too 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 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 straw and droppings in the run and begins composting in place. We then add some fresh straw 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 Ark. In fact, building a poop tray into either of our designs would probably make them more of a hassle to clean, and possibly harder to secure. And really, you want to have easy access to the henhouse anyway.

Now, some people still like to slip in a board or tray on the floor beneath the roost to collect the bulk of the droppings. You can do that on our coops, but you don’t have to.

I advise friends and neighbors who are building their own coops to follow these same principles:

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

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

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