Housing chickens may well be the hardest thing to decide on, with space available, number of chickens, size, climate, purpose of keeping them and budget all contributing factors that should be taken into account before diving in.
Home sweet home - for the chooks.
Below you will find some information on basic housing requirements for your backyard flock.
There are also some designs of Hen Houses and their specifications that can be built to order. Please visit chooks.co.nz to order yours.
Important things to keep in mind are: the room you have available, the number of chickens you will have, if you want to keep them locked up or free-range and if you want a mobile coop or a permanently placed one.
Mobile coops are great and generally have wheels, usually these are kept for a smaller number of hens, you simply move the hen house around to let the hens forage in different spots. If you don't have a lot of space, a fixed coop is more ideal than a mobile one.
If free-ranging try not to place the coop near the vegie garden - remember, chickens are omnivorious and will eat anything and often travel some distance to find food! If you are free-ranging it's better to have a permanent coop.
Chicken coops should be kept dry, clean and draught free with perches off the ground. The perches should be rounded, like strong branches or broom handles as opposed to square. The coop should be built from treated timbers and joinery that is built for outside conditions.
Suitable nesting boxes should be supplied, one box per three hens is ideal but some people find one box to every five hens sufficient.
Depending on the area you live other people stealing your chickens or eggs may be another issue altogether so be mindful about that too.
Will your chickens have adequate space? In the hen house there should be a minimum of 2 square feet per bird or for bantams about 1 square foot would be plenty.
A good idea is to place the feeders and waterers at the birds' back height. This will keep the food and water clean and prevent wastage.
Ample air movement without a draught is essential. Fresh air brings in oxygen while excess moisture, ammonia or carbon dioxide are removed as the stale air moves out of the coop. Dampness and ammonia build-up are a sign that there is not enough ventilation. For small coops windows or vents on one side of the house will usually give plenty of ventilation. Chickens can handle the cold very well if they are dry. However, cool and humid conditions can create a lot of health problems. Windows covered with mesh should be placed on the side of the coop, away from prevailing winds.
TradeMe often has traders posting second-hand bargains that should fall into almost anyones budget or if you're wanting a brand new ready built coop, these can be purchased from Fionna and Gordon Appleton at chooks.co.nz all the designs that feature on this page are proudly made by them.
This house can house up to 18 chooks if they free range on a daily basis.
* Size is 2.4m long by 1.2m deep made of 12mm H4 treated plywood.
* The height at the front is 1.8m i.e. person height which makes cleaning a pleasure.
* Framing is 75mm by 50mm. It is a very solid and well built house, using all treated timber and plywood.
* Three walls are solid plywood together with a solid floor which helps to keep it warm and dry.
* The roof is made of coloursteel with flashing at each end.
* Black roofing paper under the coloursteel prevents condensation dripping onto the birds.
* Three external nest boxes can be accessed from the outside for easy egg collection.
* The nest boxes can be placed at either end of the house - depending on what suits.
* A rail has been added to allow chooks easier access to the nesting boxes from inside.
* Two moveable perches are also provided.
* Comes with a pop hole to the outside
* On skids for easy transportation around paddock.
Raised Movable House
This popular movable hen house has a run to make a more roomy outside area for your chooks. The new design not only gives them double the space but a sheltered outside area and more height in the run.
If you are looking to keep some chooks in your back garden then this movable house and run would be perfect, housing up to 6 heavy breed hens comfortably with daily access to free range.
* The overall size is 2.3 m long (including handles) by 0.93m wide and 1.1m high (to apex).
* The house is app. 1.m by 0.9m.
* The run has a warm, dry raised house made of plywood at one end.
* The house is easily accessed by a lift up lid.
* The wire run has a wire door as well as a pop hole for the chookies to come and go.
* House comes with one removable perch and a removable nestbox for easy cleaning.
For those of us who just want to keep a few hens in the back garden or paddock this size chook house is perfect. If you already have a fenced run or enclosed area and are just looking for a medium sized chook house this design and size will be perfect for your needs. This house will comfortably house 5 to 6 heavy breed chooks.
* The house is raised up off the ground which helps to keep it dry.
* The underneath offers the chooks shade and a place to dust bath.
* The roof is an apex style with one side hinged to open up for easy access.
* Removable nest boxes are contained within the house, for ease of care when cleaning.
* There is a removable perch inside.
* The house has a solid plywood floor.
* A pop hole is placed at front of house for 'chook' access.
* A ramp is provided for the chooks to walk up.
If you are looking to keep some chooks in your back garden then this movable house and run would be perfect. The wire run acts as a 'holding pen' prior to the chooks been let out to free range on a daily basis. This practical design will house up to 6 heavy breed hens comfortably.
* The overall size is 2m long by 0.9m wide and 0.75m high (to apex).
* The house is 1.1m by 0.9m and the run is 0.9m by 0.9m.
* The house has been designed to be 'roomy', has a lift up lid for access.
* wire run is accessed with a lif up lid.
* All timber and plywood is treated.
* One removable perch and a removable nestbox for easy cleaning.
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