How to choose the perfect hen house for your chickens
The opportunity has finally come for you to adopt your very own hens and now you need to purchase a hen house. But which sort to choose from the bewildering array of designs, materials, and sizes? Here you’ll find all the necessary tips for choosing your perfect hen house, so you’ll be able to give them the best possible retirement!
The most important consideration must be size and when purchasing a house some guidance is usually given by the manufacturer as to stocking density, but as the size of hens varies considerably (clearly six bantams will take up less space than say six Orpingtons), it is important to allow common sense to prevail. Too much space is preferable to too little.
Hens like to snuggle up together at night and may not use all the available perching space but always bear in mind that secure outside space should be as important as the house itself. Ideally factor in a run which is big enough and can be covered should there be an outbreak of avian influenza and a housing order put in place.
Wood or Plastic?
Hen Houses can usually be divided into two categories traditional wooden or plastic. The traditional free-standing wooden house raised on legs is perhaps the best known and the design has changed little over the last 100 years. A raised house prevents damp rotting the floor and stops rats and mice nesting underneath, it also has the bonus of dry ground underneath which the hens can utilize as a dust bath area. Wooden housing is aesthetically pleasing but does require routine maintenance; cleaning is not always easy, and the slats and crevices provide ideal nooks and crannies for red mite to hide.
Plastic housing or housing made from recycled materials has the advantage of being durable and maintenance-free. Good quality products hold their value, and they are easy to pressure wash and keep clear of parasites.
For more information on hen houses, check out our BHWT Shop.
Do you want your hen house to move?
You can choose to have a permanently sited house and run or one which can be moved around your garden to take advantage of fresh grass and to avoid the ground becoming poached. An outward facing skirt where the run meets the ground will ensure that predators cannot dig under the wire.
There is no need to spend a fortune, hen houses can be made by adapting aviaries, dog kennels, Wendy houses and garden sheds but whatever you choose to adapt basic requirements must always include good ventilation, nesting boxes and adequate perch space for all the hens; if perches are removable, it makes cleaning easier. Provision of a pop hole (a small door at ground level) allows hens to freely go in and out and pop holes can be fitted with automatic door closers.
The choice is yours! If you would like advice on what set up is right for you, don’t hesitate to call Hen Central.