There are many different ways in how you can make your chicken feel at home. Mostly a chicken house is used. You can build it from bricks, iron sheets or
- Nest boxes 60cm high
- Mulch changed once a month
- Pg 42 multiple nest box
Make the structure movable:
Building a HOOP COOP
Lindy studied natural chicken farming methods taught by Herman Beck-Chenoweth, who is renowned for his free-range chicken farming practices, as well as learning from the Mormons.
“I wanted to learn to farm the natural way and to give the chickens as happy a life as possible,” says Lindy, now fondly nicknamed The Fowl Woman. “We use small, compact houses for small groups of chickens, which all venture out every day. Chickens don’t like to be in large groups.”
Lindy purchased her first 100 chickens in 2010, and her partner, Nebojsa Filip, designed and built the unique chicken houses.
“They’re our own design. They’re tunnel-shaped and have sleds underneath so we can pull them around with a tractor. All the side flaps open for ventilation, which we can also regulate.”
When it’s hot, the chicken house roofs are wetted to cool them down, and water pipes run along the ground so that the chickens can splash and cool off. She explains that in huge chicken houses, which are invariably long, narrow buildings, the chickens in the middle of the building seldom or never go out. “The doors are usually opened at either end but
Here is a great guide to various mobile chicken pens:
Simple, affordable housing for young chicks
One problem of raising free-range chickens is that young chicks can be taken by predators such as hawks or vermin such as rats.
A ‘nursery’, however, can be constructed for very young chicks from cheap materials such as chicken wire mesh, 2,4m-long wooden droppers (used in constructing game farm fences and available at most farmer supply stores), cheap timber slats (available at most sawmills or hardware shops) and the reinforcing mesh used in the foundations of buildings (available at building material supply companies).
Here is how to build such a structure:
Cut the 6m metal reinforcing mesh sheets in half lengthways; this gives a fence height of 1,2m (as the sheets are 2,4m wide) and a 12m-length of mesh to build an enclosure. Add more mesh sheets if you need to increase the size of the enclosure. The reinforcing mesh offers support to the structure at ground level and prevents predators from biting through.
Sink the droppers 600mm into the ground. This will ensure that you have secure, 1,8m-high supports.
Attach the timber slats to the droppers to build a frame, and secure the chicken mesh tightly against the steel reinforcing mesh and timber frame.
The droppers and slats can be treated with an oil-based product such as Waksol timber sealer (my preferred product, as it does not have a strong smell), linseed oil or creosote (all available from hardware stores). Alternatively, paint all timber and droppers with three coats of old motor oil annually at the start of summer.
I do this even if the timber slats and droppers are treated, as it protects the wood against the elements. Paint the reinforcing mesh with a rust protection paint (at most hardware stores).
The enclosures can be fitted with simple individual shelters made from corrugated zinc. Under each, place an old car tyre filled with grass cuttings or oats straw. The hens, which forage throughout the day with the breeding roosters, can lay eggs in these enclosures.
Create openings in the fence to enable them to leave the enclosure to forage in the surrounding garden area or farmyard, and then return to the eggs.
These exit spaces should be roughly square in shape, about the size of two shoebox lids, and 10cm to 15cm off the ground. This prevents very young chicks from exiting the nursery enclosure.
When mother hens are out foraging, a little grower mash and even finely chopped greens such as lucerne can be fed to the chicks. This will continue for about a week at the most; after this, the chicks will join the adults in foraging.
Here’s a nice detailed article on how to build a chicken house