How to Build a Hen House

One doesn’t necessarily have to build anything in order to know how to build a hen house. Basically, any small building will do, be it an old barn, a shack, or even a garage. All that is entailed is preparing the structure to make it a suitable dwelling for the chickens.

When building a hen house, it is important to put into consideration how many hens it would be able to accommodate. The size of the house will depend on the number of the chickens it is to be built for. The hens’ total number is multiplied by 4 in order to verify the house’s minimum size. This measurement doesn’t include the yard area outside the hen house where the chickens stay during the daytime.

The hen house should be provided with perches onto which the hens would rest during the nighttime. The perches should have around 12” of space for each hen, and each perch should not be stacked directly on top of one another, so that the hen on a higher perch would not soil the hen below it. A proper perch can be made by attaching a wooden ladder from the floor to the wall in an inclined angle.

Since a mature hen can weigh as heavy as 12 lbs, the perch material used should be quite sturdy; recommended are furring strips, 3”-thick branches, or 2 x 2 lumber. The perches should be placed away from the people’s entrance of the hen house to avoid walking on the chickens’ night droppings when coming in to gather the eggs the following day.

A bedding should be provided for the hens to scratch on, as well as to absorb moisture and odors from the hen house. One can make the bedding out of wood pellets, shavings or straw. In deciding the type of material to be used, keep in mind that soiled bedding will have to be disposed of. The ideal bedding material would be one that can either be thrown away or composted.

Place net boxes in the hen house to give the hens a dark, quiet, private place for them to lay eggs in. The nest boxes should each measure 15” (length) x 15” (width) x 11” (depth) and each box is made for every 3 to 4 hens. The boxes should be lined with a soft material to keep eggs from breaking. Such materials that could be used include hay, straw, shavings, and even mats and carpets. A small board is placed across the front so that the eggs and the bedding would not get scratched out when the hen is making herself more comfortable.

Placing a privacy curtain fashioned out of old jeans or burlap will persuade the hens to lay eggs in the nest box. Frequently, one will find more than a few eggs in one nest box. This is because a number of hens would tend to lay eggs in the same box. The top of the nest boxes should be slanted in order to deter hens from perching and soiling them. Also make sure that the hen house’s door is well-latched, boards or wire are installed under the soil line, and all the ventilation holes have a small wire mesh over them to keep the chickens safe from predators.

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