How to Make a Litter Tray for Chickens

After you build a litter tray, your morning chicken chores will be easier to complete.
After you build a litter tray, your morning chicken chores will be easier to complete. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Building a litter tray under your backyard chickens’ roosting bars makes cleaning up after your birds easier. Instead of having to sweep up after them, you can simply lift out the tray and dump the contents. A litter tray makes it easier to collect the droppings and put them to good use -- for example, you can add them to your compost pile or spread them as fertilizer.

Things You'll Need

  • ¾-inch plywood
  • Tape measure
  • Permanent marker
  • Straightedge
  • Two-by-two
  • 1¼-inch screws
  • Locking pliers or clamps
  • Drill
  • Waterproof sealant
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint scraper

Measure and trace a rectangle approximately 2 feet long and 4 feet wide, using the tape measure, straightedge and marker. A tray this size is large enough to be helpful, yet small enough to handle. Size the tray so that it works best for your coop and birds. The tray should be slightly larger than the roosting area to catch all of the droppings.

For a 2-foot-by-4-foot tray, measure, mark and cut four sections of two-by-two. You need a piece that's 48 inches long, one that's 46 inches long, one of 24 inches and one of 22 inches.

Place the 48-inch-long two-by-two under the back edge of the plywood and the 46-inch-long board under the front edge of the plywood. The 46-inch-long segment should line up with the right edge so it leaves a 2-inch gap at the left corner. Place the 22-inch-long board under the left side edge of the board. Align this two-by-two with the rear edge of the side so it provides another 2 inches of gap at the front left corner. The left front corner edging should now have a gap extending 2 inches from the corner in both directions. Place the 24-inch-long board under the opposite side.

Clamp the two-by-twos to the plywood with locking pliers or clamps. Drill three pilot holes on each side, penetrating through the plywood and into the two-by-twos. Drive a screw into each pilot hole to connect the plywood to the rails. Remove the vice grips.

Coat the entire tray in a thin layer of waterproof sealant using the paintbrush. Let the sealant dry and then add a second thin coat. Allow the second coat to dry completely.

Place the dry litter tray under the roosting bars. When tending your chickens, you can remove the entire tray and tilt it upwards so that the gap at the corner creates a funnel. Use a paint scraper to dislodge any droppings that stick to the board.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take the tray outside while allowing the water sealant to dry so that your birds are not exposed to the fumes.
  • Ensure that the screws are properly seated, so that no sharp edges are left exposed.
  • Always use good hygiene practices when working around chicken droppings. Wear disposable gloves while tending the birds, and wash your hands with soap and water once you have finished.

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