Choosing the wrong chicken house can prove to be a costly mistake, not to mention perilous for your hens’ health, whereas getting it right can provide your flock with a lifelong home.

Jim Vyse, of Jim Vyse Arks, producer of high quality poultry housing for nearly two decades, offers this advice: “Look for housing with a practical design and robust construction. Chicken houses manufactured from structural exterior grade pressure treated timber provide excellent longevity, as the treatment process is estimated to give a working life of at least 15 years.”

The key thing to remember is that housing should be light and airy, not compact and bijoux. Poultry should have a minimum of 90cm² per bird if they’re going to free range. They’ll need more if they’re going to be confined for much of the time, such as during the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.

To allow birds to wrap their toes comfortably and securely around the perch they’ll need to be between 4 to 5cm wide, with rounded edges, and a rough surface. Perches positioned higher than nest boxes should ensure that the boxes aren’t used overnight; leaving them clean for egg laying.

Vented roofs, both via the ridge and louvres at each gable end, are the ideal design for drawing in clean air without creating a draughty house.

Finally, it must be easy to clean and maintain. Jim says: “A good quality, well-maintained chicken house should last a lifetime.” Removable roof panels and nest boxes are design features which make cleaning a quick and easy task.

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