IHS Built Environment Typology : Structures : Buildings : Barns : Barn Types, Subtypes, & Addition Types

Chicken Barns & Chicken Sheds


(difficult to generalize, though)

Elements * = diagnostic

  1. Size: ** small size: about 10-15 by 15-25 foot rectangle
  2. Shape: * narrow rectangular footprint
  3. Height:* half- or full-height hayloft (1.5 to 2 story height)
  4. Width: ** 1 to 3 small bays wide
  5. Depth: * 3 small bays deep
  6. Roof: gable, gable-front orientation
  7. Door: usually only 1 or 2 on front: a wagon door and if another, an entry door; secondary entry doors elsewhere and hayloft and gable vent door above
  8. Structure:
  9. Ornament:


(only one interior observed)
  • Small barn/large shed
  • Gable entry
  • Open center bay with room for one wagon
  • Corn cribs form side walls
  • Bins in loft, with chutes
  • Stairway into loft in front corner
  • Observations



    There is nothing I know of published on this type in geographic publications of midwestern or national scope. Research, observation, and documentation is required. ]


  • Chicken Barn - implies a relatively large builiding housing chickens; usual examples seen are Yankee type barns, usually banked or raised, with many windows.
  • Chicken Coop - ubiquitous name used now for sheds used to house chickens, but in error. A "coop" is "a woven enclosure, cage, or pen used to confine fowls and other small animals for fattening or transportation" (Lounsbury 1994: 91; emphasis added). Thus, using this term to label a building, of whatever size, is inappropriate. A true coop is a small structure, presumably usually portable: a modified basket or box.
  • Brooder Barn - Unclear what size, but the implication is that this is only a chicken house with heating and accomodations for the brood chickens (the baby chicks?) ([unknown South Dakota]:57).
  • Henhouse or Hen House - "A structure [building] providing a place for chickens and other fowl to roost and nest, and a protective shelter from predators. Compared to chicken house, fowl house, and poultry house, henhouse was the most pervasive term throughout most of the Old south. ..." (Lounsbury 1994: 178-179). The Dictionary of Building Preservation concurs (Bucher 1996: 230). But, the term "hen" house excludes roosters, which I believe are necessary to keep if you want your hens to keep laying; thus, I find this term not quite satisfactory.
  • Chicken House - "A henhouse. The term was little used until the 19th century..." (Lounsbury 1994: 73). The Dictionary of Building Preservation again concurs (Bucher 1996: 94). This is a more appropriate term, but it uses the term "house" which I prefer to reserve to human habitations.
  • Fowl House - Same as "henhouse," but not excluding ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowls and other domesticated birds (Lounsbury 1994: 149; Bucher 1996: 195). This is better, and also more inclusive, but it uses the term "house."
  • Poultry House - Same as "henhouse" (Lounsbury 1994: 289; Bucher 1996: 352). This is better, and also more inclusive, but it uses the term "house."
  • Poultry Shed - An attempt to avoid the term "house," though an awkward one. This also feels like it lacks something to indicate that it houses poultry... (kbc 7/16/02)
  • "Poultry house" was used contemporaneously by Halsted in 1881, and he also included a duck house in the same section (Halsted 1881:86-103). Noble and Gordon use the term "poultry house," but also use the term "chicken coop" as a synonym (Noble 1984:153 ; Gordon 1992:116). The Old Barn Book uses the term "chicken house" and avoids "coop," and also quotes from a Califonia study of chicken house types that does the same (Noble & Cleek 1996: 135-137).

    I have used the term "chicken coop" consistently and exclusively, but now realize that it is wrong. Considering the above information, I now choose to use the term "poultry house" for lack of anything better. (I'll avoid "poultry shed" for now.)

  • Define: poultry vs. fowl; brood

  • Examples:

    images are approximately same scale, though seen through different 35mm camera lenses (28mm, 50mm, or various for b/w images) or varying artist's perspective and accuracy



  • US24 Architectural Survey, AL# K028, S070 County Road 2B. Probably a plans book design - very efficient, planned, 'designed' look and design.

  • Features



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