Things to Consider When Housing Chickens

| 1/4/2010 3:17:10 PM

Raising Chickens

In my part of the United States, you can't drive down a back road without seeing the remnants of an old chicken coop near a barn or house. Quietly decaying as time passes, they are visual markers of a time when almost every rural family kept chickens close at hand.

No matter where you plan to keep chickens, consideration must be given to housing. Chickens need a place to be protected while they grow, eat and sleep. Chicken housing may be as simple as an existing shed or garden shack, or as big as a poultry barn, housing hundreds.

The single, most popular small-scale housing solution today is the chicken tractor, a portable coop designed to house a small flock. I use the chicken tractor only during summer months as a method of starting young birds safely on open range. They benefit from fresh forage daily but are not free to roam, nor are they easy prey for hawks or stray cats and dogs. No matter what housing system you use, there must be a roosting space where the birds can be securely locked up at night.

If chickens are to be kept throughout the year in a colder climate, your plan must be large enough to provide them room to move when they are cooped up for several months at a time. A good standard for coop floor space is 4 square feet per bird. So, if you have an 8-by-8-foot shed, you can house 16 large birds throughout the year comfortably.

Nest boxes are necessary if you want your hens to have a place to lay in a predictable location. One nest box for every four hens is all that's necessary. Decoy eggs help to educate your chickens as to where you'd like them to deposit their own eggs. If there is a window in your coop, the nest boxes should be on the same wall as the window, as this is the darkest location. Elevate the nest boxes above chicken eye-level so they don't notice eggs and peck out of boredom.

1/6/2010 7:40:40 PM

Reptiles are cold blooded animals and birds are warm-blooded animals.Birds do generate their own body heat hence the reason they 'sweat' Reptiles do no sweat and have no heat regulating mechanism.Birs 'pant' in warm weather and they do sweat.

1/6/2010 2:33:24 PM

i don't understand how a coop will be warmer from the body heat of my chickens. it is my understanding that reptiles and birds are "cold blooded" and therefore don't produce their own body heat, which is why we often find reptiles warming themselves on hot rocks. please explain.

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