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. Read More

Looks matter

If you’re thinking about building a chicken coop, you’re probably most concerned about things like predators, space, location, and cost. But you might want to add appearance to your list, as it can affect every one of the other considerations.

Where we live, four neighboring homes have views over the fence into our yard. Our first impulse was to build a coop quickly and cheaply, and, out of respect for the neighbors, keep it low and out of sight. But then we remembered who’d be staring at the coop most often: us.

Focusing on making the coop look nice actually helped us arrive at a more functional, low-maintenence, and inexpensive design. In the end, the chickens may not notice the difference, but our neighbors do. And so do we.

Outboard nesting boxes with siding on the Garden Coop.

Which wood is best for a chicken coop?

Chicken coop with log roosts in run area.

[Post updated Dec. 2017] Most chicken coops are made of wood, and all wood eventually rots. Our coop designs feature overhanging roofs to protect the structures and their occupants from rain. But your coop will still get wet and be exposed to humidity, insects, and UV light. To protect the wood from the ravages of being outdoors you have a few options:

  • Build with wood that’s infused with pesticides (pressure-treated)
  • Use a naturally rot-resistant wood (like cedar, redwood, or tropical hardwoods)
  • Choose a softwood (like Douglas fir, hemlock, spruce, or pine) and apply a nontoxic sealer or treatment
  • Choose a plywood designed for exterior use and stain or paint it

In this post, I’ll go through each of these options, weighing the pros and cons. I’ll start with my least favorite and end with my preferred approaches. For a quick overview of our 10 tips and takeaways click here.

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