Shade Trellis for the Chicken Coop

Chickens are incredibly cold hardy.  What they can’t tolerate is extreme heat.  To  cope, they drink a lot.  They pant.  They dust bathe.  They lounge around in the shade.  In fact, you can just imagine an overly-dramatic buff orpington sitting around with an obnoxiously large floppy hat, white sunscreen-lathered beak,  complaining about the high temps giving her the vapors.

OK, maybe just I can imagine that.

Not good.

So I built this.

Chicken Coop Shade Trellis

Shade Trellises for the Chicken Coop.   (As an aside, I still say every source I looked up is wrong and it should be “trellii”.  That’s just a cool looking word…)

Inside those small 2’x4′ raised beds, I’ll plant grapevines and some companion friends known to invigorate growth, and also deter certain grape pests.

The secret to my cheap, simple design is 16’x4′ cattle panels.  You can sometimes find them for free on Craigslist or from folks replacing farm fences, but a brand new one will only set you back about $20.

Sixteen footers are a bit much for me and my trailer, so I used a little eighth grade geometry to figure out the length I would need for my sketched design.  After all, these trellii are just a straight vertical line attached to about a quarter of a circle’s circumference ( 1/4 multiplied by 2πR).  I did my simple calculation and decided cutting the cattle panels to 12′ will give me the exact shape I’m looking for to maintain a nice (shaded) walkway between the coop and trellis.

After cutting them (bolt cutters or channel locks snap through them like butter.  Take them with you to the store!), the panels were a lot easier to get home.


I prepared the area in front of the coop by whacking down as much of our rabid, overgrown mint as possible.


Then construction was simple.

  • Construct the raised beds from 1″x10″ cedar boards.  (Way cheaper than 1″x12″).
  • Dig a little to level them out.


  • Pound in two T-posts to support each trellis.
  • Zip tie cattle panels to the T-posts.
  • Attach the top of each trellis to your structure.  (I used the smallest electrical conduit clamps I could find.)



Yeah, I guess I could’ve swept off the coop walkway before snapping these pics.  Oh well.

All that’s left for this project is to plant the beds, put down a cardboard weed (and mint!) barrier in the area, then mulch the hell out of it.

I think the girls are going to enjoy the shade.

Additionally, since I always try to stack as many functions as possible… I specifically chose grapes for my coop’s shade trellis since they are a natural attractant for Japanese Beetles.  That means these prevalent pests will hopefully gravitate here and not the rest of my garden.  Each morning when I let the chickens out of the coop, I plan to give the grapevines a little shake.  The natural defense mechanism for Japanese Beetles is to “play dead” and fall to the ground.

Boom.  Instant chicken breakfast and natural pest control.

We humans will just enjoy the grapes.



Question of the Day: What tips do you have for keeping your chickens cool in the summer?

Posted in Chickens, Permaculture, Pest Control
32 comments on “Shade Trellis for the Chicken Coop
  1. Patrick says:

    LOL, I had to strap mine to my jeep. I am surprised I didn’t get pulled over on my way home. They went over the hood and hung off the back about 2 feet. I want to make a couple of those as walkways to enter my garden area.
    Patrick recently posted…Strawberries, Snakes And PuppiesMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Yeah, I thought about a few crazy things I could try without cutting them first. “Can I put half inside our Jeep with the tailgate up and half in the trailer? … Can I angle it and strap part of it to the roof and let the rest drag in the trailer? … How many sparks would fly if I let a few feet drag on the road behind the trailer?” 🙂

  2. Aly says:

    You have so many good ideas. Are you going to make things from the grapes? Would you guys actually try for wine at some point?
    Aly recently posted…Lemon Ginger SconesMy Profile

  3. Ann says:

    I keep my chickens cool in a handy device called a refrigerator. But I like living vicariously through your blog. Very clever about the beetles!

  4. Vickie says:

    Wow – this is going to look really good and it doesn’t look that difficult to set up! Are you sure the chickens won’t eat the grapes? I know a few chickens who adore grapes – especially cool ones on a hot day. Good idea about the bugs, however. Thanks for the great idea.
    Vickie recently posted…Choosing Pomegranate TreesMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      I’m sure they’d eat every grape they can get their grubby little beaks on. 🙂

      They typically don’t have 24/7 free range access to this part of the garden. I have an electric net fence set up on the grass where they’re supposed to be. I’ve also put up a border of chicken wire around the little grape raised beds while everything is starting out, just in case.

      My hope is that when the vines are established and hardy, I won’t have a problem letting the chickens in this area. They can be welcome to grab any grapes at their level, and am imagining there will still be a lot for us out of hopping height.

      But maybe I’m being optimistic. We’ll see. 🙂

  5. Dawn Jones says:

    I have one grape vine on the back stoop. I was planning on letting it grow on the chicken run. The run is already shaded by 2 large trees, but I wondered about the chickens eating the grapes. You mentioned eating the ones on the top of the vine. Thanks for the info. I do use grape leaves to cook with on occasion too. Nice post! Dawn

    • Mike says:

      May I ask how you use the grape leaves in cooking? I’ve heard of teas, tinctures, and salads… but not sure I know of any actual cooking. Something I need to learn!

  6. Gail says:

    This definitely gave me some awesome ideas about shading 3 large picture windows I have on my house with nary a tree in sight to help with that blazing summer sun!
    Thank you so much!
    You can also use cattle panels for making a small hoop house using 2 to 3 of them connected together inside a raised bed frame.

  7. Mike says:

    Cattle panels are crazy versatile, aren’t they? 🙂

    Good luck with your shading project. Be sure to come back and let me know what you come up with. Just keep in mind it’s best to use something deciduous so in the winter, the structure can harvest the sun instead of a plant’s leaves.

  8. Dawn Jones says:

    Actually I use them in canning. I put them in with dill pickles. I think it may be more for looks than anything else, but it was in a friend’s mother’s recipe. I had another friend that rolled up rice and other items and ate this concoction inside steamed grape leaves. I think there was also olive oil on them. I have seen them in stores—look at Middle Eastern or Indian stores. Have a great day!


  9. Gentle Joy says:

    These look so nice …. and are wonderfully useful also. I love it when things can do double duty. 🙂 Thank you for posting this.
    Gentle Joy recently posted…How Does My Garden Grow?My Profile

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Joy! I’m with you. I want to stack functions and eek out as much production out of what minimal work I put into a system.

  10. Jenny says:

    We use bottles of water that we pop in the freezer or a pan of ice. Otherwise they just hang out under our truck :/ Great info! Thanks for sharing this at our HomeAcre Hop!

  11. Thanks for sharing this great idea for keeping our backyard chickens from getting the vapors in the summer lol…love that! This post was chosen as a favorite on our From the Farm blog hop!
    Dawn @OhSweetMercy recently posted…DIY Iced Tea BagsMy Profile

  12. Tracie says:

    What a great idea. I can’t wait to see this in a couple of years. I usually plant dogwoods for shade since they will shade in summer, look pretty in spring, feed the birds in fall and let the sun shine through in the winter.

    • Mike says:

      I can’t wait to see it in a couple years myself. It’s crazy how quickly grapes can grow though. In just a few weeks, there’s a lot of green on the bareroot twigs I stuck in those beds. 🙂

  13. vickie says:

    I love this idea! so much better looking then the tarp I put up every year…now to show husband.
    vickie recently posted…ThredUp: 40% off Women’s Clothing + $10 for New CustomersMy Profile

  14. Danielle says:

    So curious, the chickens don’t take care of the Japanese beetles at all (or the larvae)? I had heard guinea fowl eat them (and stink bugs) which made me want to get some for our small yard, lol. Do grape vines die from Japanese beetles?
    Danielle recently posted…Our Fall DecorationsMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Hi Danielle! The beetles can in fact kill grape vines if they’re populations blow up and they’re not managed. They eat the leaves. On a mature, hardy plant that bit of loss is usually not a problem… but I like my plan of shaking the beetles into a dozen waiting, hungry beaks. You know, just to make sure. 🙂

      I have never kept Guineas and therefore don’t have any firsthand experience, but I’ve read up on them a ton. They are supposedly some of the best insect foragers possible. I want them to help clean our fields of ticks. However there are some downsides. They’re constantly and annoyingly loud (if that kind of thing bothers you), and they’re big time roamers. Don’t expect them to stay close to home all day like chickens. We may try some at some point, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. We added Muscovy ducks this year instead.

      Stop back and let me know if you every try them!
      Mike recently posted… Zone Analysis of Our Homestead – Part 1My Profile

  15. Miranda says:

    I just ran across this post in a Google search for inexpensive grape trellii (I like that better, too!). How are yours holding up under the weight of the grapes a year later?

    • Mike says:

      Well, there still isn’t much weight, but I have no doubt they’ll hold up just fine. If you’re not familiar with these cattle panels (sometimes called feedlot panels) they’re really heavy duty and strong. I forget what gauge size of metal it is.

      My vines are probably only 4′ tall at the moment. They were tiny things I put in last year and didn’t do much growing (typical for first year grapes). almost all of that four feet has happened in the last month. So check back next year and they should be monsters. 🙂

  16. Leslie Davis says:

    Thank for share great information,but i wonder how much i need to make a coop like this?
    Leslie Davis recently posted…What to feed chickensMy Profile

  17. Lila says:

    This is such a great idea. I may be being blind, but I don’t see any dates on this page and am I’m curious as to when this article was originally posted and how successful you have been with the chickens eating the Japanese beetles.

  18. Deean Hicks says:

    My chickens love blackberries. I like having them eat all of the lower level ones, to keep them off the ground. The only drawback so far is my beautiful white Delaware hen, has a purple face all summer (I panicked at first, I thought it was blood). Again, a winner with people and pets doing dual duty.

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5 Pings/Trackbacks for "Shade Trellis for the Chicken Coop"
  1. […] So I’m getting better.  For example, when I recently planted the beds in front of the Shade Trellis for our coop, I put a few companion plants next to the grapevines. There are several possibilities for deterring […]

  2. […] I recently shared the Shade Trellis I built for my Chicken Coop. […]

  3. […] need to be. If you’re in a warmer climate, you’ll also need some form of additional shade for your coop. If you start off with chicks, you can always have a temporary “baby chick playground“ […]

  4. […] Shade Trellis for the Chicken Coop | Gentleman Homestead – Chickens can not tolerate a lot of heat. One way to keep them cool and happy is to build a shade trellis. I detail a cheap and easy design…. […]

  5. […] Shade trellis for the chicken coop | gentleman homestead […]

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