Here are Jim’s top 10 things to look for before purchasing your chicken house:
- Good ventilation
Poor air flow can lead to hens that are too hot, too cold, or have serious breathing problems. Ventilation holes at the top of the house will let clean air in and draw stale air out without leaving the house draughty.
- Make sure your chosen house is easy to clean
Cleaning should be a quick job so you can get back to the important task – enjoying your chickens! Removable roof panels and nest boxes make it easy to give the house a thorough clean without it taking all day.
- A high standard of welfare
Welfare should be paramount when choosing any poultry housing. Ensure that you have a house which is the right size for the number of chickens you intend to keep. If you think you’ll be adding to your flock then you may want to consider buying a bigger house.
- Easy to access nest boxes (both for you and your hens!)
Well-designed nest boxes help keep eggs clean and make collecting them a doddle! Perches located higher than the nest boxes should discourage hens from using them overnight, keeping them clean for egg laying during the day.
- Is your chicken house practical?
Pretty chicken houses are nice to look at but elaborate designs don’t always do the best job. A traditional, rustic looking chicken house that is well designed will always be better than something that looks pretty – and chicken houses are easily painted if you fancy some DIY!
- Is your chicken house robust?
Your chicken house should be made of good quality timber that will stand up to the Great British weather year after year. Structural exterior grade pressure treated timber ensures a working life of your chicken house for at least 15 years.
- Does the chicken house have enough perches?
Chickens need around 30cm each to comfortably perch so if you have a large number of chickens you may need extra perches. The perches will need to be 4 to 5cm wide, with rounded edges, and a rough surface to allow your birds to grip them securely.
- Is the chicken house big enough for your breed of chickens?
If you keep larger breeds, such as the Brahma, a standard chicken house design may not be big enough. You’ll need to look at the height and width of the chicken house, as well as the size of the door. You may want to consider a bespoke design to ensure their comfort.
- Can you move the chicken house easily?
Wheels and handles on larger poultry houses make moving them easy without the risk of damaging your back. Larger houses can have skids fitted to make moving them with a car, quad bike or tractor a simple task.
- Is your budget big enough?
Cheap isn’t always cheerful and what you think is a bargain may end up costing you your hens’ health. Think of your chicken house as a long term investment. After all, chickens can live for 10+ plus years so you don’t want to be buying them a new house before every winter.