With so many people interested in keeping a backyard flockof chickens for eggs, and maybe even for meat, I’ve been visiting local henhouses, partly to be able to assure potential hen farmers that a henhouse doesn’t have to be a Palais de Poulet, and to show you some of the clever designs hen farmers have come up with to make their own work as easy as possible.
Emma is the youngest hen farmer I know. She is an excellent student at Mohawk H.S. and track runner. And she is very tall! She didn’t build this henhouse herself; she had the assistance of a very handy, thrifty and thoughtful neighbor. Note that the henhouse is built on an old trailer chassis so that in the winter (before the snow flies) it can be moved to a location near the back door of the house. Right now it has been moved into the vegetable garden to manure and till it. The wood is also recycled from an old barn; the window is a screen which will be covered with plastic when it gets colder. Chickens are very tolerant of the cold, but they do appreciate protection from the wind.
This large door at the other end of the henhouse makes it easy to clean out the bedding. Emma practices deep litter management and only cleans it out once a year in the spring. Just the kind of management Gene Logsdon of Holy Shit fame recommends. The manure and bedding that builds up over the year will help keep the chickens warm in the winter, and the helpful bacteria that lives in the litter will help keep the chickens healthy. Also notice that the chicken ramp folds up to act as a door, when it isn’t acting as a ramp. Very efficient use of materials.
Emma’s chickens also have a solar powered electric fence. It is not so much to keep the chickens in as it is to keep critters, like foxes and coyotes out. Emma is very fond of her flock and has named all 16 of her chickens, but I couldn’t keep the list straight. Alas. She says each one is quite unique.
I’ll be posting about other local henhouses, including my own. It is not a thing of beauty but it has functioned for the past 30 years.