Remember these essential points when housing your chickens at home and your chickens will be happy and safe.
1. First, the size of the pen is particularly important. Hens are happiest when the conditions are not cramped. If you want your hens to produce many eggs, they need space.
2. Next, you should allow about fifteen square feet of space per bird in the run area. This can be smaller if hens are given free-range each week for several hours.
3. Also, you want to consider height. Though the hens do not fly, they do like to flap and jump. They need at least three feet of height space. More is always better.
4. Weatherproofing: Hens are outdoor animals and will want to be outside in extreme weather. Your chicken pen will incorporate weatherproofing to accommodate the birds when they are indoors. You will want to waterproof the roof of the nesting area.
5. The entrances ought to have door or pop holes that can be closed during night hours or in harsh weather. Since hens often will go out in heavy rains, you will want to provide a cover for the run (heavy duty polythene sheeting). This is especially necessary for ex-battery hens.
6. Protection from Predators: Any plan to keep hens and fowl must consider the dangers of predators. Hen-keepers often have been devastated by the loss of their birds to the growing number of foxes suburban and urban areas. The pen must be animal-proof nowadays. Sly predators will find every weakness in a pen’s defence system. Materials, therefore, must be strong enough to withstand the persistent assault of a predator. You may want to take extra measures in terms of lining the base of your pen with mesh or driving stakes into the ground to anchor any safety features.
7. Ease of Cleaning: You may be surprised by the amount of waste produced by a few hens. Keeping the pen hygienic is important.
8. Multiple access points, like rear and front doors into the sleeping quarters, make it easier to scoop out the waste. Also, you need to seal cracks and crevices in the pen to prevent infestation from the red mite. Some experts recommend that top handles be placed on the coop to make for easy moving around the garden. This will allow for cleaning near the chicken house, which provides garden fertilizer.