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Hen House #1

Emma's henhouse

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.

The two chicken/egg boxes are mounted on the outside of the henhouse to make it easy to collect eggs, and to clean out the nests.

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.

3 comments to Hen House #1

  • Lisa at Greenbow

    I think this hen house is ingenious as they have made a small, functional unit. I can’t wait to see the rest of the hen houses you tour. I have always wanted some hens but I can’t have them where I live. Sigh~~

  • Pat

    Lisa – I have been fascinated by the planning and details of other people’s henhouses. Too bad you can’t have chickens. They are so domestic,cheerful and productive.

  • Kudos to Emma for taking such good care of her flock…and thanks for the GREAT idea of using a trailer chassis for the henhouse…we have an old trailer that is just rotting away but that could make a mobile henhouse…now to persuade hubby of refashioning it by the spring 🙂
    I have used deep litter for horse bedding for many years (before the days of rubber stall mats) but I can see how it would work well for winter hens. Never thought of the bacteria buildup being beneficial before, though…I need to read up on that! For horses the ammonium buildup is not healthy but they are nothing like chickens when it comes to environmental adaptability!

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