Self Sufficient Living

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Chicken Houses

If you have a small back garden and would like to keep a few hens you will need to maximise space. There are many different designs you could use from a moveable ark design, to a fixed house and run. To give the birds as much floor area as possible the hen house could incorporate a raised sleeping area with a duck board ramp to allow access, our hens have learned to use the board and jump up and down too. We built this house for a total cost of £30 I already had the timber and screws and roof sheet, I estimate if you had to buy it all it would have cost about £120 ( without the automatic door opener). The roof is made from plastic coated corrugated steel sheet 1m x 2m and the run is 1.5m high. The hen sleeping / laying quaters is 500mm high by 600mm long and 900mm wide. I set the perch a little to high to begin with and even though the hens could jump up to it, were unable to jump down in the morning, we thought they were just having a lie in and had to get them off the perch for the first few days. Not being as early risers as the hens we decided to invest in an automatic door opener which pulls the house door up when it gets light and lowers the door down when it is almost dark, for around £70 it is worth every penny, hens naturally put themselves to bed , so this gives us peace of mind knowing they are locked in safe overnight.

Chicken run
Automatic door opener
Hen house inside

Automatic
Door
Opener

Perch

Nesting boxes are at the back of the hen house (see above) hens like a dark corner to lay in away from the hustle and bustle of busy chicken life. The boxes are accessed from outside the house as the rear of the house is both the door to the house and roof of the nest boxes.

Things we have learned in the last few months.
1) Chickens are smart, we have a raised veg plot which we anticipated they would take a strong interest in, so prior to their arrival I netted the top and all sides, however I still have had to put up plastic sheeting to stop them pecking the veg and pulling it through the netting.

2) Their droppings are corrosive and will burn grass eventually killing it, so I regularly gather them up and compost them.

3) Chickens will keep the grass short ,we haven’t cut the back lawn since their arrival.
 
4) In wet weather we leave them in their run as they rake up the soft ground turning it into a mud bath, we leave them in for 24 hours or until the ground dries out enough.

5) They dont like going to bed until the last ray of light has gone, which means we have to find ways of luring them back into their run with tempting treats, they regularly manage to find a way of out smarting Ros.

6) Chickens need grit to help digest their food but also to provide the raw materials for egg shells, we found eggs with very thin shells and one without any after an especially wet period when the girls had been kept in for 48 hours on straw. We are not 100% sure this was the reason but after giving them some crushed oyster shells eggs returned to normal.