Thursday, 28 April 2011

Building Comfortable Henhouses means Content Chickens.

Building henhouses that make hens feel comfortable, safe and secure with ample light and food and water will mean more eggs for you and your family. Happy healthy hens that are settled in their poultry coops, will lay more eggs than birds that are stressed or not getting enough light. Building comfortable henhouses does not happen by accident and involves thought and preparation.
Click here for more help and information on Plans for Henhouses.

Big henhouses will allow lots of space for your hens and save you rebuilding if you get more chickens. Chickens are endearing pets and people always want more! And once you install roosts, feeders, waters, and nesting boxes all poultry coops will seem small.

Predator Safe
In locations with large predators or neighbourhood dogs, it is a waste of money to use hexagonal chicken wire for the henhouse run. It will not keep them out and keep your birds safe. You will eventually replace the chicken wire with welded wire or hardware cloth (we use 1" squares) when something gets to your birds. The only thing worse than building the run, is taking all that sharp scratchy wire off to put the strong wire on. Predators will dig so henhouses where the chickens roost at night need wire floors or buried wire in the perimeter.

Laying hens require 14 hours of light a day. This can be from daylight or light bulbs. In winter when days are shorter than 14 hours, it is a good idea to have a light on an energy-saving timer that comes on automatically for a few hours in the morning or evening to extend their day.

Feeder height
Poultry coops feeders at the right height, will make the hens more comfortable and give less wasted and spoiled food. Level with the back or breast of the birds will be more comfortable. You will be happier with less mess and spilled feed and rodents looking for it. You can adjust most feeders to allow a shallow or deep trough for food, set it to shallow so there is less waste.

Chickens prefer roosts wider than 2 inches in the poultry coops. In cold weather they can fluff-up to cover and insulate their feet when roosting in the henhouses. Roosts can be flat 2 by 4s or even wider tree branches. Make sure they will not be roosting over feeders, waterers or nest boxes and have at least a foot of distance from any walls.

Dust baths
Hens love to dust-bath to remove oils and parasites and makes them feel content. A heavy wood box in the corner of the henhouse with wood ash or diatomaceous earth is perfect for the hens and helps keep them healthier.

Watch your Henhouses Budget
But don't skimp on safety. Check around for supplies, Habitat for humanity, Freecycle, Craigslist, Kijiji. Well-designed and built henhouses are more important than brand new. Having the better wire to keep the birds safe is much more important than new wood. Poultry coops are no good if your chickens can`t survive in there.

Tags: henhouses, henhouse, poultry coops, chickens coops, chicken coops

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Location of Henhouses Makes Life Easier

Raising Chickens is relaxing, rewarding and enjoyable when done the easy way. New chicken keepers often have to rebuild or rework their henhouses to make chores easier after using them a few months. Rebuilding henhouses takes time, money and effort. This is unnecessary if you plan your poultry coops right the first time around. Besides, who wants to redo that work when they could be collecting fresh organic eggs or laying in a hammock? Click here for Plans for easy to build, affordable henhouses.

Years of experience raising hundreds of Heritage and Rare breed chickens has helped us learn quickly, the hard way! If you want to find the best ways to get started, we will share our time and labour saving resources!

From getting started and building your henhouses and choosing the right breeds, we can improve the efficiency of your hobby. We can save people making mistakes we have made, and keep chicken raising fun! And you get some hammock time too!

Water Location
The henhouse should be as close as possible to water source as chickens need free access to water all day.   A large waterer in the poultry coops will keep them supplied all day but is heavy to carry a long way. Water will spill in a barrow or cart. So run a hose if possible to the henhouses.

Henhouses should have electricity to run light to the coop in the winter.  This is to give 14 hours of light to keep the hens laying eggs year round. Also in colder climates, a source of electricity to heat water in the winter make life much easier so you are not replacing the water multiple times in the day as it freezes.

You will save a lot of work while the birds get free access to feed with larger automatic or self filling feeders. You can fill once a week or so, saving you time each day. Weather and pest proof feeders are a great idea if henhouse space is limited. The feeder can go out in the run but won't need moving inside and out daily.

Wind protection
Locating henhouses in a sheltered area will help reduce drafts and even feed costs. Windows of the poultry coops need to be covered to eliminate drafts in Winter to cut down on drafts. Chickens have an insulating layer of downy feathers that keep them warm as long as they trap the warmed air over the chickens skin. A cold wind or draft in the poultry coops replaces the warm layer with cold air and the chickens get chilled.

Food Storage bins
Build or place storage bins close to the henhouses you build. If possible, locate them near the poultry coops where you can drive to them for transferring bags of feed.  Feed bags are heavy and feed should be stored close to the poultry coops, if not inside. If it is not possible to locate them to a location you can drive to, use a dolly cart to save your back. Make sure the storage bins are waterproof and pest proof. A simple wheeled garbage pail with pest proof lid works very well for us.

Tags: henhouses, henhouse, poultry coops, chickens coops, chicken coops