Roost & Root


Rule the Roost Coop Design Challenge

Join the chicken-keeping revolution! Design an attractive, shippable, cost-effective, entry-level coop that can be CNC manufactured.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed


Challenge Overview

Why go to the grocery store for eggs when you can visit your own backyard? The Rule the Roost Coop Design Challenge aims to make high quality, sustainable and humane chicken coops accessible to every-day people who want a low-cost way to get started with chicken keeping. 

This Challenge seeks a novel design for an entry level chicken coop that meets standard requirements for the welfare and comfort of chickens, as well as being cost-effective, easy to ship and assemble, and a good-looking addition to anyone’s backyard. We welcome entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, students, and anyone eager to contribute to jump into this challenge and to find a solution.


The Problem

Quality chicken coops are expensive to make. For people who are new to raising chickens, it is often hard to justify the high price associated with professional set ups. Some cheaper options exist; however, these are often made with poor quality materials, treated with substances that may not be food-safe, and designed without sustainability and longevity in mind. They often don't provide adequate protection for the chickens from predators and are not user friendly. 

Why Does this Problem Exist?

Like us, chickens have particular requirements when it comes to their homes. They need their homes to be safe, secure, private (for laying eggs!), and free from harmful chemicals. These features have traditionally been achieved through conventional woodworking techniques, but this results in coops that are expensive to manufacture and difficult to ship and time consuming to assemble. 

Challenge sponsor Roost & Root believes that new chicken coop designs which efficiently make use of CNC router manufacturing techniques can lower chicken coop costs without compromising the quality of the chicken’s homes.


The Challenge Breakthrough

Increasing the accessibility and affordability of quality chicken coops will enable novice chicken keepers to pursue their interest in raising chickens with the confidence that their chickens have the best quality homes.  Raising chickens will provide individuals and families with a fun activity and the satisfaction of local access to humanely-sourced eggs.


What You Can Do To Cause A Breakthrough

  • Click SOLVE THIS CHALLENGE above to sign up for the challenge
  • Read the Challenge Guidelines to learn about the requirements and rules
  • Share this challenge on social media using the icons above. Show your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.

Challenge Guidelines

Challenge Breakthrough

Chickens need good homes, and chicken keeping should be easy and affordable for everyone. This challenge asks you to develop and submit novel designs that use CNC manufacturing techniques to build quality, cost-effective chicken coops that will house four chickens and is suitable for beginner chicken keepers.


The Challenge Sponsor Roost & Root, takes pride in their range of beautifully crafted, durable, safe, high quality chicken coops. They want to extend  their range of products to be able to offer an entry level chicken coop to budding chicken keepers who want a low cost way of getting started with raising chickens that does not compromise the quality & value of their brand  

One goal of this challenge is the incorporation of cost effective CNC manufacturing techniques, which are a means of reducing production costs for many different manufactured products. CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled, and these machines are able to operate via a computer program to make very precise cuts in almost any flat material. This allows for panel-based construction (e.g., with notches/patterns cut into panels), which provides benefits for reducing manufacturing costs as well as paving the way for innovative designs that allow for flat-packing and improvements to overall design aesthetics and ease of assembly.

The purpose of this challenge is to take advantage of these benefits to design an entry level chicken coop specifically catered for construction using CNC techniques. In order to achieve this, important considerations for the design are provided below.


Key Design Criteria

There are lots of ways that standard coop designs can be innovated but no design would be complete without thinking about the requirements of the chickens and the people who keep them.

Chicken needs

The goal of a good chicken coop is to keep chickens safe from predators, protected from weather, while  allowing them easy access to food, water, privacy for roosting, and enough room to comfortably flourish.

Below are some specific guidelines to help you meet the needs of the chickens. How you meet these guidelines is completely up to you.






Run space

Space for 4 hens on the ground in the main part of the coop – at least 4 square feet (1.2 square meters) per hen

Protection from the elements

Adequate refuge from sun, wind, snow and rain if needed while still letting some sun in to dry things up.

Protection from predators

The coop must be strong enough to withstand attempts made by animals like dogs and foxes to get in.

Built-in water dispenser

Water dispenser needs to be about 15 inches from the ground and hold enough water for at least 4 days.

Built-in feeder

Feeder needs to be easily accessible to the chickens and be big enough for the occupants and last for at least 4 days.

Access to the roost

Some form of ramp or jumping bars to allow hens to travel between the ground and the roost


Roost bar

An elevated space for 4 hens to sleep or get out of inclement weather.

Adequate space

Around 8 inches (length) of roost bar space per hen, with adequate space around the roost bar to allow the hen to gain access and perch.

Egg box

Adequate space

Minimum 15 x 15 x 15 inches (38 x 38 x 38 centimetres)


Provide enough coverage to block out light - chickens like to lay eggs in the dark


Egg box should not be placed directly underneath the roost (chickens poop while they sleep) and optimally below roost height to discourage hens from sleeping in the egg box.


8/21/2021 Sponsor Note: Chickens roost (sleep) in the highest positions pretty reliably. Chickens poop while they roost. Gravity happens. This particular criteria shall be deemed as guidance, not an absolute. We would encourage the solver to make note of the cleanability and sanitary requirements of any good "cage" that we humans "coop up" an animal in.  If there is some design that accommodates the animal and sanitary requirements, but violates this Placement guidance, the entry will not be automatically disqualified. 


Keeper’s needs

This coop will be aimed at customers new to chicken keeping. It’s important to ensure their experience is as hassle-free as possible as they learn the ropes of their new hobby.

Below are some specific guidelines to help you meet the needs of the keepers. Again, how you meet these guidelines is completely up to you.




Ease of egg collection

Easy access to eggs, preferably from outside the coop

Ease of feeding/watering

Low-fuss means of filling food and water dispensers, preferably from outside the coop

Ease of cleaning

Ability to clean all parts of the coop without requiring acrobatic skills!

Ease of chicken access

A secure opening from the run in case the keeper wants to let the chickens out for a stroll. Ability for a keeper to easily  “grab” a cooped up hen is a bonus  in case medical care or grooming is required.



Figure 1. Visualization of important components. Note that shape and location of each of the components in the visualization is for illustration purposes only (unless otherwise specified).



The main considerations in terms of manufacturability are safety, affordability and sustainability. In addition, the solution should be specially designed for construction using CNC manufacturing techniques.

Due to the versatility of CNC cutting, you can propose any type of building materials, as long as they satisfy the below requirements:




CNC Manufactured

As much of the design should be made using CNC manufacturing techniques as possible. If not 100% manufacturable using CNC, there should be good reasons for the parts that are not. some limited hand work is acceptable. CNC machinery required must be easily obtainable and not too costly.


The total raw materials should cost less than $100 USD per coop


Materials must be durable, safe for food use/contact and not require any paint or surface treatments before being used outside


Materials should be aesthetically pleasing. For example, if the materials you have chosen have natural colours, do they work well together? Is the finished product likely to look appealing in someone’s backyard?

Sustainable materials

Raw materials are preferably sustainably sourced



Just as streamlining manufacturing costs enables these entry-level coops to be affordable, so does reducing shipping costs. Ideally, the design will be able to be flat packed to save on packing space. However, as we all know, if something comes in too many pieces and the manual is too complicated, it’s not fun for anyone! A design that strikes a good balance between efficiency in packing and ease of assembly will be a significant benefit.

Standard guidelines for weight and size limits for shipping in the US are provided below:

  • Weight: up to 150lbs (68kgs)
  • Maximum length: 108” (274cm)
  • Maximum total size: 165” (419cm) length and girth combined (calculated as: (1x length) + (2x height) + (2x width))

For more information on packaging limits, feel free to refer to the UPS and/or FedEx shipping guidelines.

The more compact and light your design can be in packed form, the more affordable it will be to ship, which will be a significant advantage. However, keep in mind that the design still needs to be easily assembled and made to be strong and sturdy.

Additional considerations

Finally, some additional features that are desired but not required include:

  • Scalability – either by a design that can be scaled up to a larger size or by other techniques, such as modularization.
  • Alternative materials – for example, a novel means of replacing chicken wire that is cost-effective, safe for the chickens, and equally sturdy against predators.


This challenge will award up to $10,000 to up to 5 teams, as follows:

  • Up to $5,000 for one first place winner
  • Up to $2,700 for one second place winner
  • Up to $1,500 for one third place winner
  • Up to $400 each for two runners up


Participation Eligibility:

The challenge is open to all adult individuals and private teams. Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (see:

No specific qualifications or expertise in the field of engineering, farming or chicken keeping is required. Prize organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions. 

To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Registration and Submissions:

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the website, on or before the posted contest deadline. All uploads must be in Sketchup .skp (preferred) or compatible .3ds format. No late submissions will be accepted.

This challenge allows multiple submissions per individual/team. Should you have multiple entries to submit to this challenge, they will be considered separately. Whether or not multiple entries from the same individual or team may be chosen for a prize is up to the discretion of the Challenge Sponsor. You are not required to submit multiple entries, if that option is available.

Intellectual Property Rights:

As detailed in the Challenge-Specific Agreement – Competitors will transfer the IP to the contest sponsor but, sponsor will agree to in return, give royalty free permission to use the IP so long as it does not compete with the contest sponsors commercial interests. It is the intention of the Sponsor to seek patents on any novel elements to the design and appropriately include designers as the inventors or co-inventors.

Selection of Winners:

Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded per the Judging Criteria section above. In the case of but a tie, the winner(s) will be selected based on the highest votes from the Judges.

In the case of no winner, Sponsor reserves the right to withhold the Prize amount. In place of the original prize amount, Sponsor must issue a Consolation Prize to the team or individual closest to the winning solution in the amount of at least 15% of the total original prize purse.

Awarding of the Prize:

The Individual Submitter or Team Captain is automatically designated as the Recipient of the prize monies. The Individual’s or Captain’s name must also match the Authorized Person on the receiving Bank Account. No changes are permitted to the prize Recipient after the Submission Deadline date. If you wish to change who would receive the prize monies, those changes must be completed prior to the Submission Deadline. View our Knowledge Base article here for how to change Team Captains.

Judging Panel:

The determination of the winners will be made by the sponsor, Roost & Root. 


Additional Information

  • By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst competitors is grounds for disqualification.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.



Challenge Updates

Judging Update!

Sept. 21, 2021, 7:40 a.m. PDT by Roost & Root

After completing an exhaustive review of the entries submitted to the competition, we have determined that none of the entries submitted fully met the challenge criteria.

With that being said, Roost & Root would like to recognize the following efforts of two submitters for their thoughtful designs and will be awarding them consolation prizes, for their efforts:

1st Place Consolation Prize | Michael van der Bent - Hexpod
2nd Place Consolation Prize | Nathan Onifrichuk - Egg Trunk

We also want to thank everyone else for participating in the Rule the Roost Coop Design Challenge! It was a pleasure going through all of the designs, so we encourage you to take them forward and make them a reality if you wish.


We will be paying out the prize money this week to HeroX directly and they will be disbursing the funds to the above individuals. 


Thank you !

Judging Begins!

Sept. 8, 2021, 11:22 a.m. PDT by Roost & Root

Hi Challenge Entrants!  We're holding our first meeting today to look over designs.  Need to really dig in to see the thought that went into the provided information...


Thank you!



Countdown till 4PM CDT

Sept. 6, 2021, 7:20 a.m. PDT by Roost & Root

As I write this, its about 9:15 am in the central US time zone. Excited to see everyone's entries. There's a little under 7 hours left... 4 PM US Central time is the hard deadline.

Some fun unique ideas already submitted.  Will be exciting to see more...

Thank you!  



Judges... get your checkbooks ready...

Sept. 2, 2021, 8:02 a.m. PDT by Roost & Root

Well, not exactly.  I guess the days of "warming up the checkbook" chatter to motivate someone are gone.  Sort of like calling video "footage" or music a "record" or an "album".  But you get the point.  We are so excited to reward some deserving entrant prize money.


I sent an update about Omar Hakim being our special guest judge, look back in this string for more about Omar.


Our other judges will include...


Kevin Luby

Kevin is Roost & Roots general manager and is responsible for all aspects of production and acquisition of materials. He'll no doubt be weighing in on the manufacturability of the submitted designs.


Dyan Twining

Almost two decades of backyard chicken keeping experience and having provided customer service on over 10,000 coops sold probably makes Dyan one of the, if not THE, preiment backyard chicken keeping expert in the country.  Not that MIGHT be hyperbole... but maybe not. There's not much Dyan doesn't know about egg laying chickens. She'll no doubt weigh in heavily on the chicken keeping aspects of designs.


Montie Twining

Montie is a lifelong serial entrepreneur who has developed everything from super yachts to software and everything in between. Roost & Root became his family's primary way to "pay the bills" in 2013 and is his primary focus.

Montie is the inventor or co inventor on a portfolio of patents and has even enjoyed a stint as an executive in a publicly traded company. For decades, he has enjoyed "small business" startups because of the broad and intense hands on experience they provide. His day to day responsibilities at Roost & Root are a combination of product development and marketing what the company makes.


Talk soon!






Wow... next Monday is THE Day!

Aug. 30, 2021, 12:04 p.m. PDT by Roost & Root

Hello again challenge solvers... 

I was reading an article this morning about Jeff Bezos and how he asked his managers to submit a 6 page brief on ideas they'd discuss in meetings.  A lot of comments got made about the process, but one that stood out was that people who were pretty much done the week before the deadline... had several benefits.

One... they could "sleep on it".  Sometimes, inspiration to overcome obstacles in designs have come for me in those first waking moments, or even dreams.  Or maybe they are pretty much one in the same. Not sure. Two, they had the benefit of stepping away from the brief for several days... and seeing it with a "fresh set of eyes". Both comments make a lot of sense to me and comported with my personal experiences. 


He then went on to say that meetings on these briefs all started with a significant block of time for participating managers to read, digest and make notes on the briefs before discussing them.  He stated that during this time, it became obvious to him who had "crammed" vs who had left themselves the luxury of time to hone their brief. 


Anyway... I think brilliance can come a whole lot of ways. But bottom line... there's 1 week left to this contest. Time clicks away, as it seems it always does... at least in this existence ;-)


I'm so excited to see what comes of it and so looking forward the the judging phase.  


We left 2 weeks for judging just in case I was wrong about it being able to happen much faster. But either way... after the Sept 6th deadline, and no later than the 22nd... we'll have chosen winners.  We'll announce no later than the 24th. My guess is sooner... but having no idea about parsing carefully through all the great ideas... I wanted to be careful. There are close to 3 times the number of challenge solvers that we were told to expect.  That's really awesome! Might make for some tough choices.  Hope so.


Best of luck!

Talk again next week.  After submissions are in, I thought I would touch base before judging began.


Montie Twining

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