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Are your chickens warm and dry?



Are you thinking about getting chickens after Christmas so you can have your own eggs and hours of fun watching then get up to all sorts.

There are many, many different types of poultry house/chicken coop available. Many of these are of fancy design and come with bells and whistles on!

Our advice is look past the fancy design and look for a practical house that is well built and sturdy. Your birds won’t need the bells and whistles but will need good basic design principles which give them space and security. The timber and fittings has it has been treated so that it will stand up to the weather? Is the timber of good quality, FSC approved and sturdy? A good house should be fully treated. Tantalised, protimized or cuprinoled timber are popular choices. Creosote is used by some manufacturers. This needs to be completely dry and 'weathered' before hens can be introduced, so that they are not affected by its toxicity. A good house should come already treated, however if you are re-proofing a house at any time, remember to buy proofer that is non-toxic to bats. Check the screws, hinges, nails and any mesh being used. If it is not galvanised it will rust and look awful. It will also very likely be an indication of a cheap design and import from the Far East.

Dimensions of the support timbers

A good house should use good strong timbers. These are normally 2-3 cm thick. If they are too thin the structure may not be strong enough. If too thick, the house may be difficult to move. A good house should be not too heavy but not so light that it will blow away to Kansas.....beware of cheap imports from China !

The roof
The roof should have an overhang for shedding water. It may be a pitched roof, coming to a point at the top, or be angled away from the door so that water is shed backwards. It may be wood covered with bituminised felt (we strongly advise against this because of mites) or be made of a modern material such as Onduline. The latter is popular because it does not provide hiding places for mites which can take up residence in the roof felt. Whatever the construction, it needs to be drip-proof and have a good level of insulation.

Carrying and Moving                                                                                                            If the house is a movable one, how is this accomplished? Some houses have wheels, while others may have them offered as an optional extra. The structure needs to be easy to grasp if it is relatively small, so carrying handles need to be provided in the appropriate positions. A larger house may have skids rather than wheels so that it can be pulled. If the house is to be moved by one person, it needs to be easily accomplished or the task can become a nightmare.

Access to the inside
Does the house have a poultry keeper's door or is there a 'lift-up' section of the roof. Whatever it is, it needs to provide easy and convenient access to the inside of the house for cleaning, and so on.

The Floor
It may be solid-boarded which is warm, or slatted which is colder but does allow droppings to fall through. An alternative to slats is a rigid metal mesh floor that is more secure against rodents.

Stale air can cause health problems so a house needs to provide fresh air without draughts. Depending on the size of house, ventilation is provided by a window, roof ridge or ventilation holes covered with galvanized wire mesh. Check that air inlets can be opened and closed easily.
A 'pop-hole' entrance allows birds in and out of the house. This is normally closed by mean of a sliding shutter or 'drop-down' ramp. It is a useful feature to be able to open or close the pop-hole door from outside a run, otherwise you will need to go into the run. All doors, pop-holes and windows should fasten firmly to exclude predators. A lock may also be appropriate to deter thieves.


There needs to be a perch for the birds to sleep on at night, with a minimum 20 cm of space per bird (30 cm if you have large birds). The width is 4-5 cm and slightly rounded at the sides for ease of grasping. Ideally the perch should be placed higher than the nest boxes so that the chickens are not encouraged to sleep in the latter. If there is more than one perch they need to be arranged in such a way that chickens are not directly below each other. The perches should be easy to remove for ease of cleaning.

Nest boxes

Nest boxes need to be placed down in the darkest area of the house because this will discourage egg eating. There should be on nest box for every three birds, with wood shavings or sawdust as liner. Make sure the shavings are from non treated wood otherwise they may be toxic. Wood shavings are preferable to hay or straw which may harbour mites and become mouldy with disease causing spores of Aspergillus fumigates or “Framers Lung” which can also affect humans. Nest boxes should be accessible to the poultry keeper from outside.
Keeping clean
Access to the house for cleaning is important. The fittings should be easily removed for cleaning and the house itself should be easy to dismantle. A stiff brush and dustpan are good cleaning tools, but having a dropping board, easy clean floor or similar saves a lot of time

Have a look at our different types of  poultry housing below is an just an ideaChic

SWR6__10 MiniSwissChalet1330 MSA BA

Leslie Sutherland

About Leslie Sutherland

I have unfortunately got extensive knowledge of escape artists, so I know most of the tricks they use.

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