Chicken Houses; A Great Alternative To Your Bathtub
Once you have seen adorable little fluffy newly hatched chicks you want nothing more than to keep the fuzzy things in the house. This is a great conversation piece for guests, who will in turn spread the word all over that you are crazy. Sadly, these sweet chicks turn into adults and must move out into the harsh, cruel world to terrorize your outdoor pets. Now you need to provide them with a college education and a place to live. Ok, maybe not a college education, but since they refuse to get real jobs, you must provide them a safe home. True chicken enthusiasts will tell you stories of hen houses with spas and indoor swimming pools, but an affordable hen house will offer safety and security.
When choosing hen houses and yards, special consideration must be taken to prevent your chickens from becoming an all you can eat buffet. The types of predators most known to enjoy a chicken dinner are racoons, fox, stray cats and dogs, badgers, coyotes, and even skunks who add insult to heartbreak by taking up residence under the house. The list continues since rats, snakes and weasels particularly enjoy fresh eggs; flying predators swoop in to grab meals to go. When planning the chicken yard, cover the top with wire to discourage climbers and birds of prey, and bury the wire several inches down to thwart digging predators. Some recommend a hot wire on the outside of the fence to deliver a shocking reception to a predator. For a self-sufficient homesteader, the loss of chickens is devastating both financially and emotionally.
With so many shelter plans on line, one is sure to suit your needs. A chicken coop should have a small locking door to secure the chickens safely inside at night, and the house should be raised off the ground for added protection. A tread covered ramp allows chickens easy access to the raised door. Include a small feed room adjacent to the hen house with an inside door to the coop for cleaning and egg collecting. Special lighting and heating encourages year round egg laying; these must be fire resistant, designed for outdoor use, and hung so that the chickens cannot get to them. For heating elements, chose those covered in wire mesh for added fire safety. Flooring can be made of vinyl, limoleum, or even concrete for easy cleaning. Boxes will need to be hung inside as chickens sleep and lay eggs in these roosts.
Building a henhouse can be easy, affordable, and even fun. You can make the house in any imaginable style; there was even one that boasted a small covered front porch with patio chairs.
A word of advice for any hobby chicken farmer who wants to stay friends with his neighbors; contrary to popular belief a rooster does not need to be present for productive egg laying, only for egg fertilization if you decide to breed. Your friends will thank you at 5:00 am for this helpful tidbit.
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