After completing the construction of our chicken coop, I stumbled upon a brilliant concept for a roosting litter shelf on Instagram. Essentially, it's a raised box positioned just beneath the roosts and filled with sand or bedding to facilitate daily cleaning of chicken poop from the coop. Additionally, paying attention to chicken feces can provide valuable insight into the overall health of your birds.
As we shifted our focus towards completing the interior trim and designing the roosting area of the coop, I immediately realized the necessity of incorporating one of these remarkable shelves. Therefore, we embarked on a mission to figure out how to install it in our own coop.
Our coop is a 4x8 structure accompanied by a 16' x 8' run, ideally accommodating up to 10 chickens. Being located in a warm climate, I opted for ample window placement to facilitate ventilation. Additionally, the upper portion of the walls features plexiglass windows, allowing sunlight to penetrate the coop during daylight hours. Although this left minimal space for attaching roosting bars to the side walls, I remained steadfast in my pursuit to provide my chickens with this fantastic shelf.
• Stair rails
• 2x4 brackets
My objective was to have easily detachable roosts, which would allow for efficient cleaning. Luckily, we came across some complimentary wood on Facebook Marketplace, including several stair rails that were ideally suited for this purpose. With the aid of slightly adjusted 2x4 brackets, I was able to securely hang the rails, providing an ideal fit.
To install the brackets onto the wall, I began by measuring the location for the initial roost. To ensure adequate space between each roost, a minimum of 12 inches is recommended. Therefore, I marked the first roost bracket 12 inches from the rear wall and repeated this process for the second roost, which was also spaced 12 inches from the first. The final roost is positioned at the front of the shelf and consists of a detachable 2x4 that secures the bedding or sand. This is located 12 inches from the second roost.
If you intend to construct a similar roosting shelf, I recommend adhering to these 12-inch measurements at a minimum.
Obstacle: Roost location in the middle of the window?!
I discovered that the middle roost directly interfered with the center position of the windows. I did not want to obstruct the windows as they are crucial during the hot and humid summer months. So, I explored various vertical positioning options to resolve this issue. There had to be a solution! Then, an idea struck me: Since we had not yet finished trimming out the window's interior, I could incorporate a wider board for the top trim. We utilized a 2x6 board for the "trim" and attached the roosting bar bracket to the bottom, making it the first bar we placed. The rear bar was positioned slightly higher than the middle bar, but not by much.
To construct the shelf itself, we fabricated a 3-sided box that was 48 inches deep. Please keep in mind that we do not require the front side of the box since it comprises a detachable 2x4 roost. Subsequently, we fastened a sheet of plywood to the bottom of the 3-sided box. It is critical to measure the inside of your coop to obtain the appropriate dimensions for the shelf. If it is too large, the shelf will not fit, and if it is too small, you will be unable to fasten it to the wall. Therefore, measure, cut, and confirm the fit before assembling everything.
Another valuable tip that I discovered is to cover the shelf with a waterproof liner. Fortunately, we had some vinyl flooring remnants stored in the attic from the previous owners that were the perfect size for the shelf. Using liquid nails, we adhered the vinyl flooring to the shelf, and just like that, our shelf was complete.
After completing the installation of the roosting bars and the shelf, the next task was to fill the space with bedding or sand. For this purpose, I opted for an animal-specific coffee ground bedding that is free of dust and very easy to clean. Although sand is an alternative option, it tends to produce a lot of dust. However, compared to shavings, which can retain excess moisture and prove challenging to clean, sand is still a preferable choice.
If you're building your chicken coop, congratulations! And if you're looking to build a chicken coop like mine, I compiled a lot of information in a downloadable document with detailed building plans for you to use!