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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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