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The henhouse is an important feature to your hens’ lives as this is where they sleep and (hopefully) will learn to lay their eggs. The two main materials options for the hen house are either wood or plastic. The photographs below show some example henhouses.
Modern and stylish henhouse by Chicubes
Wooden traditional style hen house
Modern henhouse 'Eglu' made by Omlet
The size and requirements of the henhouse need to be considered too. The houses offered by Omlet and many shop bought wooden houses will come ready made with the required features such as perches and nesting boxes. Although as mentioned you can make your own henhouse and we converted a small children’s plastic playhouse and full details of this can be found in the Chicken diary section. Various sources offer different information for sizes and specification, here is a rough estimate to the requirements and sizing for your hen house.
Perches are required for your hens to sleep on and they should consist of a series of bars between 25-50mm wide: this will provide your hens with an adequate grip. Hens are capable of jumping up to perches but position them within a reasonable height to prevent injury when getting down. At night time chickens create a lot of droppings so space underneath perches is very useful as it provides a place for the droppings to go and a removable tray placed underneath will make cleaning easier.
Perches which the hens sleep on.
Probably one of the most important features of the henhouse from where we are concerned is the nesting box. It is generally recommended that as a minimum one nesting box should be provided for every four chickens. The nesting box needs to be lined with bedding material to make it comfortable for the hens, Battery Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) recommends chopped straw or dust-free wood shavings - please note that hay is not recommended. Another alternative is shredded paper - this is a suitable way to use shredded documents providing a solution to identify theft - once the paper needs changing just add it to the compost heap. We have made our nesting boxes 300mm deep.
Nesting box with shredded paper bedding.
Ventilation is required within the henhouse to remove the odours caused from the chicken droppings as well as providing fresh air; the henhouse can become very stuffy and smelly on a warm summer’s night. Ventilation holes should be draft-free and weather proof and situated towards to top of the house above hen head height. A suitable ventilation method is the cavity vent used within homes as these have the option of being open or closed which could be ideal n the colder months of the year to maintain some warmth. Lighting is not required within the house as hens like us like to sleep in the dark and they prefer some privacy when laying.