Hinged Roosts

I keep my coops clean, not obsessively so, but tidy enough that the manure doesn’t build up and the air smells fresh and isn’t laden with dust and humidity. Every other day or so, I skip it out. (Skip it out is a term used in horse barns – you’ll feel like a real farmer when you use it!). As necessary, I refresh with clean bedding. Once a week, I do a more thorough cleaning. A couple of times a year, I remove everything, use the shop vac to vacuum up the dust, scrub walls (just water and white vinegar) and start fresh.

These chores don’t take a lot of time, but it is a commitment. As with all tasks, the design of the space can ease the work. I like roosts with several steps. It gives all of the hens plenty of room, and the heavier birds can hop up and down, which prevents strain and bumblefoot.



However, it’s awkward to clean under the roost, and so I have it on a hinge. That

 makes short work of picking up poop – with the roost up it takes but two minutes.

roost up


I’m sure that the experienced carpenters out there have a sturdier solution, but this has worked for a decade,



as has this simple hook and eye that holds it up.



The Big Barn has more space. Those roosts are simply old ladders that lean against the wall.

ladder roosts


They are kept in place with chains and hooks and eyes. It’s easy to clean behind them, as I can move the ladders to the side. In the summer, I set them outside in the hot sun to disinfect them.

ladders moved


It’s the small details like these that keeps chicken keeping easy. Are your roosts moveable? If not, perhaps that can be a summer project!


  1. My roosts aren’t even anchored :P they’re just leaning up against the wall! But having them on hinges sounds like a good idea.

  2. We’re in the process of building a bigger coop,10×12 and I was already planning on using the ladder style roost and the idea of putting them on hinges is brilliant! Thank you!

  3. What is you’re opinion on the use of a poop board? I have been reading your blog for 4 years and have put many of you suggestions in to practice. You are a respected valued teacher, mentor.

    • Because I have the angled roosts, I’d need a very large poop board, and I don’t want to take up the space. The beams in the Big Barn act like something of a poop board and collect the worst of it. In the winter the poop freezes on wood, so you’ll have to use shavings on the board.

  4. Brilliant! I have small birds but maybe I can take that idea and run with it for my hook bills ;)

  5. I like your idea, when we built the ones I have, Husband made a hanger, and I just lift the roost up onto it, it stays about 3 or so inches above where I clean… I am waiting for summer, tho, I am going to give a complete cleaning to our hen house, I will shoo the birds out into the field, and power wash down to the cement! Otherwise, it’s just the process of clean litter and the occasional broom sweep of things…


  6. My roost swings up on bolts through the vertical joists and attaches to a chain from the ceiling when I clean. I also made a weird but very effective kind of poop board: I took a shower curtain and hung it like a sling under the roost. The top end hooks onto cup hooks (using the existing curtain grommets) attached to the wall under the top of the roost, and the bottom end is wrapped around a dowel which sits on one of the lower perch dowels. There’s about a foot of space under the lowest-hanging part of the curtain, so the entire floor space under the roost is useable by the 12 hens. Their poop falls into the plastic sling, which I keep lined with a few handfuls of shavings, and all I have to do in the morning is scrape the accumulated poop off one side into my poop bucket. For thorough cleaning, the whole thing comes off the cup hooks easily, and then I hang it upside down outside and hose it clean.

  7. I like Sue’s shower curtain idea! I had my roosts on hinges for the first year but, when I redesigned the interior I decided that hinges weren’t necessary because my coop is only 4×4. It is elevated off the ground a few feet so I just reach in and clean off the poop board daily and give it a semi-annual vinegar scrub down. If I have more space in the future, I’d definitely like a coop that I could walk in.

  8. I to have one I cannot walk in, but my OH helped me adapt an existing 8×4 hen coop and 8×6 greenhouse to save money. The hen house was taken apart cleaned and creosoted, we got rid of felt roof. This was raised off ground by 3′ for easy cleaning and attached to one end of greenhouse all the glass was removed the bottom half was covered with wood panels, the top with clear plastic sheeting with wire mesh and the roof with corrugated rubber sheeting. We dug out the floor 1′ deep and put down heavy gauge mesh to stop anything tunnelling in, then replaced soil. I altered the perch inside to one long 8′ one which I have just 9″ off floor in the coop. This works very well as I only have 6 girls and they all like to roost together but there is room for any to move away if they want to. They come down a ramp like yours into converted greenhouse where there food and water is. Because it is secure I do not have to shut them in coop at night so they can get up when they want to and so can l !! Once up I let them out into there large part of garden. Perch removes easy for cleaning and I poop pick coop, greenhouse and run once or twice everyday, I use shavings in coop and nest boxes as I like the smell. I can shut them in coop if needed but we rarely get temp below -3c we tend to have mild wet winters. When you are doing thorough clean do you give the girls temporary nest boxes ??

    • Sounds like a good set-up. My thorough cleaning lasts only a day, so nothing temporary for them. The metal boxes have removable bottoms, so take little time to clean.

  9. I also have a nice system that works great. I basically have a long table with roost built above it-its moveable. Under the roost on the “table” I have sweet PDZ granules. I use a kittle litter scoop to clean every day-so easy. The only thing you might not like Terry is my roost is only about 8 inches from the table.

    • The PDZ helps to alleviate the issues of the manure fumes affecting the hens as they sleep. Your system is great for coops that have one roost bar. It’s more difficult to install with the ladder roosts.

        • PDZ is in the Koop Clean that I use. As long as the hens have plenty of good food available, and grit and oyster shell, they won’t overdo on the stuff they shouldn’t.

  10. I have noticed your hinges and thought you a genius! One day I will get to build my coop using everything I have learned from you. Still hammering things out with our township. We presented a well thought out, educated ordinance and one of our board members completely disregarded it and wrote his own with no prior chicken knowledge. It states chickens must be kept in a completely enclosed coop at all times and the coop must be completely screened from the street and 20 ft from any lot line. What a schmuck! Oy!!! Can you imagine chickens with no outdoor pen?

    • I’ve seen all sorts of regulations that have no basis in science, commonsense or animal husbandry. I just had a school principal tell me that I couldn’t do my program because a hen in the school would be a health risk to the children.