Feeders & Waterers
Because of how poultry birds eat, the height, location and cleanliness of your feeders and waterers are crucial. These birds must have fresh, clean water available at all times. Take proper steps to ensure water will not freeze.
Chickens, in particular, are rugged birds that can handle most weather extremes except cold winds. Poultry house plans must include a means of weatherproofing windows and doors to protect birds from these winds, while also allowing for proper ventilation during hot weather. Lack of sufficient ventilation leads to stagnant, health-endangering air in the poultry house.
Egg-producing poultry requires a year-round light source. Windows placed on the south and east sides of the poultry house not only provide a good source of light, but also aid in ventilation and warmth. Though poultry does require periods of darkness for health, light helps the birds to find food, allows them to be active and stimulates seasonal reproduction.
Nests and Roosts
Situate nests in the most advantageous location for you and your birds. While nesting boxes should be private, attractive and convenient enough for hens to lay their eggs in, you do not want birds to roost or sleep there. Provide roosts about 3 feet off the floor, away from the nests, where birds can rest at night.
Litter is a medium for birds to scratch, which is important to their welfare. Because poultry house floors are normally wood, concrete or dirt, litter is used to cover the floors to absorb moisture, dilute manure and provide cushion and insulation. Litter may consist of soft wood shavings, rice hulls, sand, recycled newspaper, straw or wood chips. When selecting a litter material for your poultry house, keep in mind that it should be high in carbon to prevent nitrogen loss and should compost easily.
Protecting birds is an important aspect of poultry house design. If a poultry house is planned for an area where birds are exposed to dogs, raccoons, coyotes, rats, hawks and skunks, the designer should create plans to deter the predators. Fencing and concrete flooring are the best ways to fend off predators, especially those that dig.