The chickens have been the best addition to our sustainable food system yet. We have 25 Rhode Island Reds and they produce around 20 eggs per day. They have an amazing ability to convert kitchen waste into eggs. We feed them corn, larvae, water hyacinth and cuttings from the garden. They also eat all of our left overs and most of our compost. Nothing goes to waste in the house. The ladies spend most of their time out in the yard foraging and pecking for bugs.
The best part of raising your own hens is knowing where your eggs are coming from. If you can do it in your area, give it a shot. If you have a chicken house design that is built to be low maintenance, it’ll make your life much easier!
Basic Chicken House Design Tips
The chooks are very adaptable and there’s not one ‘correct’ way to build their house. You can get as fancy as you want but the following considerations should be taken into account.
1. A big enough house for proper air ventilation.
2. Provide easy access to feed and water. Auto waterers are cheap and available at most farm store. Many feeders will last a day or 2 when filled.
3. Provide nesting areas for hens in egg production. One nest box or one square foot of nest space
should be provided for every four or five birds. In general, nest boxes for standard chickens are 9–14 inches wide, 12–14 inches tall, and 12 inches deep.
4. Install Perches and let birds to stay off the floor – particularly as they roost at night. Normally 8 inches of roost space per bird is recommended. We used large branches from the jungle and they’ve lasted over a year now.
This is our chicken house design. We’ve used it for over a year now. So far, it’s been ideal for our site and the chickens seem happy.
Some Unique Features of our Chicken House
Cleaning is Simple
Chicken poop will collect the most underneath the roosting area. With this in mind, we designed the floor under the roosting area to be made of metal mesh and cantilevered out over an incline with dirt below. This way the poo falls through the floor and/or is easily sprayed through with the hose.
We have one small pull cable door for the chickens and one human sized door that we can walk. When we let the chickens out, we pull the cable. When we want to keep them in, we let the cable loose and the door closed.
The entire chicken house is made of fencing and covered with plastic breathable mesh. The rood also has a gap that allows air to flow through.
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