“I’m redoing the Ameraucana coop roof,” my husband, Jae, announced to me last week.
It was an understandable comment. A severe storm left thousands without power and caused significant damage around our county. Our oldest chicken coop was amongst the casualties.
Or rather, just the roof, which had suffered a couple of cracks. While I made temporary repairs, Jae began plotting out a new skillion coop roof.
A skillion is a single sloping roof, commonly seen on lean-tos and porches. It took us almost 15 years to determine that this type of roof works the best for our coops.
If you are building or remodeling your henhouse, consider these three reasons why a skillion would work for you.
Into all lives a little rain must fall, and the type of roof on your coop can determine how that rain gets handled.
Our flat roofs caused water to pool on top of our coops, requiring us to squeegee it off after every storm … and preferably not in the chickens’ direction.
Our peaked roof, featuring a pair of slanted sides resembling an inverted V, sent water downward in two directions. It flowed into our flock’s run and right behind their coop, where our access door was. This made rainy days unpleasant for both our birds and for us.
Our skillion roofs, however, are simple, efficient, and easy to customize. Jae built a test skillion for our Silkie coop and we loved it so much we replaced all but one of the rest of our roofs (the one on the aforementioned Ameraucana coop).
With a skillion, we can choose in which direction and at what angle the roof slants. We can decide to let the water flow to the ground or we can add a gutter, downspout and rain barrel to collect the rainwater for use in our garden.
We can add these to a peaked roof as well, but at double the cost to cover both sides of the roof.
Don’t Perch on Me
Our chickens absolutely adored our flat roofs.
The girls would hang out on top of them, sunning themselves and lazing the day away. The roosters would hop up there to serenade us with their mighty crows.
Jaeâ€”and occasionally my kids and Iâ€”would leave tools, feed buckets, even fresh eggs on top of them, then walk off, forgetting about them. Fortunately, tidying up our disarray was lots easier than continually cleaning up droppings the chickens would leave behind.
Our peaked roof also had issues. While we couldn’t plunk anything on top of it, our birds discovered they could comfortably roost up on the roof ridge. Naturally, they did this at sunset, instinctively seeking high ground.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to get out our ladder to climb up and convince a couple of chooks it was in their best interest to sleep inside, not on, their coop.
That cozy roof ridge also received the seal of approval from a couple of Cooper’s hawks, which ultimately motivated us to swap the peaked roof for a skillion. Without a flat surface or a ridge to rest upon, a skillion prevents birdsâ€”both domestic and wildâ€”from perching … and us from being lazy.
Options, Options, Options
While traditional roofing materialsâ€”asphalt and slate shinglesâ€”can be used for skillion roofs, an option for smaller coops is to use sheets of translucent corrugated PVC. These polycarbonate panels resist the harshest Michigan winters and most blazing Midwest summers.
The furrows created by the corrugation help channel the rain down the roof’s slope. And their translucent property lets in plenty of muted natural daylight, helping layers regulate their egg production.
I had my doubts when Jae brought the corrugated sheets home, but they’ve proven their strength and durability over the years. Most of our skillions are constructed from the translucent corrugated PVC … but not all.
Our main Orpington coop has a traditionally framed, shingled roof, sturdy enough to support the next phase of skillion customization: solar panels.
By orienting our skillions in a southerly direction for the best sunlight, Jae hopes that rooftop solar panels will provide the power needed to automate the electronic pop doors I keep requesting.
Since our main Orpington coop is rather large, however, I’m assuming that his new Ameraucana roof design will feature a southerly oriented, shingled skillion outfitted with a set of solar panels.