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close this bookPractical Poultry Raising (Peace Corps, 1981, 225 p.)
close this folder6. Housing and equipment
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentFree - range
View the documentContained, with limited range
View the documentContained systems
View the documentBuilding a chicken house
View the documentMaking wire cages
View the documentUse of cages
View the documentEquipment


Local climate, building methods, management systems, space available and size of flock all will influence the construction of a chicken house and other equipment. Of these considerations, the management system selected probably is the most basic.

Free - range

Whether or not overnight shelter is provided, any kind of free - range system usually is unacceptable for the new breeds. Losses to disease and predators will be much too high to justify costs.

Contained, with limited range

The many variations of this system all seek to protect the chickens from disease and predators while allowing them to find some food for themselves in a fenced - in area or range.


· The cost of feeding the chickens can be reduced by as much as 20 percent if the range is well managed with a good growth of grass.

· Using grassy areas under fruit or other crop trees as range can mean more efficient use of that land.

· Sunshine provides vitamin D; chickens kept out of the sun need supplemental vitamin D in their feed. (Note: depending on their diets, chickens will need other vitamin supplements as well.)

· Exercise and outdoor life produce tougher, but tastier chickens that some people prefer.

· Inside a fence, the chickens receive some protection from predators.

· Isolating the flock from other chickens provides some degree of disease protection.

· What the chickens eat outside the house can be estimated and allowed for when mixing feeds.

· When the range is large, stress due to crowding is reduced. Disadvantages:

· In areas with prolonged rains, the chickens stay inside the house both night and day. Therefore, houses have to be as large and well equipped as those without ranges. Thus, in addition to equal housing costs, farmers must pay for fencing.

· If grass on the range is sparse, savings on feed costs will be slight. Land that grows lush grass often is more profitably used for cereal grains or other food crops.

· Unless the fence is at least 2 m (6 ft.) tall, the farmer will have to clip the flight feathers on one wing of each bird. Small, light breeds can fly over even taller fences.

· Other species of birds entering the range will carry pests and diseases, especially fowl cholera.

· The chickens should be rotated to fresh range every few months to prevent the build - up of diseasecausing contaminants in the soil, which requires more land.

· Maintaining a range as well as a house requires more labor than maintaining just the house.

Recommendation - Unless unusual local circumstances favor this system, farmers will do better using a fully contained one.

Contained systems

Contained systems allow the farmer more control over diseases and feed, and provide protection to the birds against predators. These systems vary from makeshift cages in the corner of a veranda or porch to fully automated batteries of thousands of birds. This manual concentrates on those of smaller scope, but the principles are the same no matter how large the project. Basically, there are three kinds of contained systems.

Deep - litter

Properly managed deep - litter systems provide excellent environments for the improved breeds and yield valuable fertilizer as well.


· Deep litter is a good insulation. It protects chickens from cold weather, and during hot seasons they can nestle into it and reach the cool floor below.

· Studies show that when all other factors are equal, layers produce more eggs on deep litter than in cage systems.

· Chickens can be brooded and kept through their productive lives in the same house.

· Deep litter allows the bird to dust itself against lice and other parasites.

· When a production cycle of 100 layers is finished, the litter and manure combination will be enough to fertilize a 0.4 hectare (ha) (1 acre) area of rice, wheat or other cereal grain, or 0.2 ha (1/2 acre) of intensively cultivated vegetables. (Note: Do not apply manure directly to growing crops - its high nitrogen content will harm them.)

· Deep litter is an improved system which is readily adaptable to traditional night shelters used in many village situations.

· The chicken, by nature, scratches and pecks in the litter, reingesting wasted and undigested food. In this process, some of the feed is recovered. At the time, the chicken picks up enzymes which are believed to reduce the chance of "gizzard erosion", a problem which rarely occurs when chickens are kept using the deeplitter system. Also, fatty liver syndrome is less likely in floor birds.


· There is a greater chance of worm and tick infestation and coccidiosis (internal protozan parasites) than with cages or raised floor systems.

· The deep - litter system is inappropriate for very humid areas (80 - 90% humidity) damp litter spreads diseases.

· The litter must be turned often, particularly in damp weather, and this requires more labor than other contained systems.

· Sometimes adequate litter is difficult to obtain.

Recommendation - Deep litter is recommended for both meat birds and layers.

Raised Floor

Floors, raised to about 1 m (3 ft.) above the ground, are made of wooden slats, wire mesh or expanded metal. The chicken droppings should be collected frequently from under the house and composted.


· In very humid climates, this is a healthier system for chickens than is deep litter, because disease transmission through fecal matter is minimal.

· This system often is better suited for a few birds than is deep litter.

· In some areas, it costs less to build a raised - floor house than a deep - litter house.


· Young chicks cannot be brooded well in these houses. Since the floor is not insulated, it is difficult to maintain the high temperatures the chicks need, and walking on such floors is very difficult for chicks. Thus, a separate brooder house is needed.

· These systems are unsuitable for hot, dry climates because the floors heat up, unless they are built near shade trees. They also are unsuitable for use in cold seasons due to their lack of insulation.

· Unless the droppings are well managed, they can attract flies and cause objectionable smells. Their value as fertilizer also is reduced.

· Egg production probably will be lower than with deep litter. Recommendation - Use in humid areas, where litter material is not available and where construction costs are lower than for deep litter. Also recommended for both meat breeds and layers.


Cages allow the maximum in control. They can be used for any number of birds, and construction costs can be geared to the desired size of the flock. Advantages:

· Cages can be placed under existing roofs; thus, a special building may not be required.


· With cages more birds can be kept in a building than on deep litter.
· Less labor per bird is needed than with other systems.
· Poor layers can be identified immediately and culled, thus saving feed.
· Problems with parasites, particularly ticks, are reduced, but nutrition may be a problem.
· When properly constructed, cages can last many years.
· Fewer disease problems are caused by transmission through fecal matter.
· Cages are a cheaper investment in the long run due to ease in care and feeding of the birds.


· Cages are hard to construct properly.
· They involve very high initial investment per bird.
· There must be constant and excellent ventilation.
· There are more broken eggs than with deep litter.
· The feed must contain all necessary vitamins and minerals needed by birds.

Recommendation - Cages are good for climates with high humidity, where labor costs are high, and when a farmer wants to keep a large flock of layers. Where ticks are a problem, cages are especially advantageous. Cages are recommended for layers, but not generally used for meat birds.

Building a chicken house

A good chicken house, no matter what its size or which materials are used for it, has certain essential features. These essentials, discussed further below, include a water - tight roof, good ventilation with no cold drafts, internal surfaces that are easy to clean, adequate floor space for the number of birds contained, ratproof floors and walls and a wellchosen location.

Some sample chicken house designs are given in Appendix A (p. 175). The Peace Corps' Manual Number 6, Self - Help Construction of OneStory Buildings, (available through ICE - see inside front cover), offers information on general construction principles. If you will be building a chicken house, try first to build a model out of paper or cardboard. General considerations in building a chicken house are given below.


Sometimes there is no choice of where to put a chicken house. If there is a choice, features of a good site are:

· Well - drained land not subject to flooding. This is especially important for deeplitter systems.

· Within sight of the farmer's home, but far enough away from other buildings to allow for good ventilation.

· Near a source of clean water.

· In areas of high winds, the site should be protected by a hill, stand of trees or other windbreak. Otherwise, a solid wall facing the prevailing monsoon or rain direction may be better.

· Well away from other chicken houses to reduce the spread of disease. An absolute minimum of space between houses is 10 m (32 ft.), but the more, the better.

· In hot climates, placing the house under tall shade or crop trees, such as coconuts, will protect it from the sun. Bushy trees that block ventilation won't do.

· Away from roads, work areas, and other noisy places to reduce stress caused by disturbances.

Floor Space Requirements

A crowded chicken is an unhappy, unproductive chicken prone to peck other chickens, sometimes so severely that they die. Putting too many birds in a confined space is a false economy.

Below are recommendations on space requirements. Large layer breeds will need somewhat more space than small ones. More space will be needed in very hot and/or humid climates. Some farmers have experimented with crowding chickens purposely to reduce their perbird investment in housing and equipment. They have reduced the space per bird to as little as 930 sq. centimeters (1 sq. ft.), but usually have found that providing less than 2,25Q sq. cm (2 - 1/2 sq. ft.) per bird, even with sophisticated ventilating equipment, is unprofitable.

A common sign of overcrowding is when the birds begin pecking each other. The only practical remedies available to small farmers are to provide more space, which may be difficult, reduce the size of the flock or debeak the chickens (see page 77).

Meat breeds - Space requirements should be based on the maximum size the flock may attain with good care and good luck. If 110 chicks are purchased, ten probably will die during the 8 - to 12 - week growing period. One hundred ready - for - market birds need 14 sq. m (150 sq. ft.). If they are kept beyond 12 weeks, they will need more space - at least 28 sq.m (300 sq. ft.) by 14 weeks, but they should be sold before this age.

Layers - Because they will be kept longer than meat birds, start with 115 sexed chicks for every 100 layers desired. Average space requirements for small breeds of layers (White Leghorns, for example) are given in the table on the following page. Under good management, 0.225 sq. m (2.5 sq. ft.) per lighter breed layer is sufficient, and this is recommended for more experienced farmers using a deep - litter system. On slatted floor systems, 0.18 sq. m (2.0 sq. ft.) is sufficient space per adult bird. A space of 27 sq. m (300 sq. ft.) should be enough for 100 layers throughout their life, and enough for 200 broilers up to the age of12 weeks. Note: This is living space needed. It does not include space occupied by feeders, waterers and other equipment.


Space Requirements for Chickens on Deep Litter

Dual - purpose breeds - Space requirements for dual - purpose breeds are the same as for meat birds until the males are sold. After that, use the recommendations for layers.


Chickens need more fresh air per unit of body weight than any other livestock. In addition to stale air, they exhale or excrete large amounts of moisture, up to 0.37 liter (3/4 pint) per bird each day. High humidity in a chicken house encourages the spread of disease, so good ventilation is important. Electrical fan systems are needed for wide or densely populated houses. Natural air circulation or gravity systems (natural circulation assisted by flues) should not be used for houses wider than 9 m (30 ft.). In hot, humid climates, many large windows or screened openings are needed. They should not be blocked by brush or nearby buildings.

most useful, methods and tools described are based either on a majority opinion or upon the experience of the author.

Because this manual gives general instructions on poultry production, some recommendations and suggestions will not be relevant to every development worker's situation. Poultry workers will need to adapt methods and tools to their own specific needs. We would appreciate, therefore, your comments, corrections and suggestions for future editions of this manual. What information was the most useful? What was not covered that would be useful in revised editions? How did you use this manual? What was irrelevant or not useful? Please make comments and let us know how this manual helped you in poultry production.

is too expensive, and in hot climates it should be covered by thick thatch or other insulation. It is easily cleaned, an important advantage where ticks are a problem.

· Tile - Although usually more expensive than thatch, sun - baked tile will last much longer. Because of its weight, the framing for a tile roof must be stronger than for other materials.


Window design depends on local climate. Chickens need more fresh air than humans, but should be sheltered from wind, dust and rain. Prevailing strong winds should be controlled. During storms, windows on the windward side of the house can be covered by hinged, permanent shutters, burlap bags, straw or bamboo mats, etc. In humid climates, window design should take as much advantage of the sun as possible to reduce the amount of moisture in the house, but the chickens should have some shade at all times.

Window areas are best covered by wire mesh or expanded metal. Bamboo or wooden slats can be used, but this will reduce ventilation. In the end walls of gable buildings, a ventilation hole should be located near the roof peak.

Gable Chicken House

DoorWhether made of metal, wood or bamboo, and whether solid or of wire mesh in the top half, the door should be sturdy enough to be opened and closed more than 1,000 times a year.Deep-litter FloorsThe ideal floor for a deep-litter house is a concrete one designed for good drainage with heavy wire mesh imbedded in it to keep rats out. This, of course, is expensive. Strong bricks or large, flat stones can be used,but are harder to clean. Many small farmers are limited to clay floors.Deep-litter floors should be built in a well-drained area. If possible, put down a layer of heavy gravel or wire mesh first to keep rats out. Turn the edges of the mesh up about 25 cm (1 ft.) to join the walls. The floor should be about 15 cm (6 in.) higher than the surrounding ground and slope slightly from the center to the sides fordrainage. Pack it by tamping until it is firm and very smooth so that water can't collect in holes. If possible, cover it with a 5 cm (2 in.) layer of cement. Otherwise, a fresh layer of clay should be applied between flocks. In order to reduce disease problems, the floor of a poultry house must be constructed such that thorough cleaning is possible between flocks or batches of chickens. Disinfectant Dip -- An optional but highly recommended part of a deep-litter house is a shallow, water-tight basin set flush with the door sill and filled with disinfectant. A disinfectant dip has several advantages. First, it helps reduce the transmission of disease-carrying dirt. Second, and just as important, it is a daily reminder to the farmer of the importance of sanitation. It is especially important where barefoot farmers, or those who do not have spare pairs of shoes for each chicken house, visit more than one such house each day. The dip can be formed with mud or clay and lined with concrete or a sheet metal tray. In some cases it may be better to construct a shallow basin - like dip instead. A basin - like dip should be no more than 1/2 inch deep with a large center area. This has advantages over a deeper dip because the disinfectant solution and the accumulated dirt can be swept out. People also are more likely to walk through a shallow dip than a deep one.

Cement - lined Disinfectant Dip - The dip should be large enough so that it is difficult to avoid stepping into.

Raised Floors

Again, local practicalities will influence selection of materials and design. Pillars that are not rot resistant should have stone or concrete footings. Pillars may be made of wood, bamboo, oil drums, concrete blocks, etc.

Floors should be about 1 m (3 ft.) above the ground - lower floors are difficult to clean under; higher ones result in an unsteady building. Floor joists, depending on their strength, are spaced 1 to 2 m (3 to 6 ft.) apart. The floor can be:

· Wire mesh - The wire should be strong or "heavy gauge", as large in diameter as a standard pencil lead, if possible. The maximum space between wire in at least one direction should be 2.5 cm (1 in.).

· Slats - Made of either wood or bamboo, slats should be 2.5 cm (1 in.) at the top and slightly tapered downward. They should be set 2.5 cm (1 in.) apart.

Slatted Floors

· Expanded metal - Expanded metal, although expensive, is extremely durable. It should meet the same requirements as wire mesh (above).

Making wire cages

In many poultry producing areas, artisans specialize in making entire cages, or they may provide just the front, the most complicated part. Colony cages (up to 20 birds per unit), which use less material, cost less than double (two - thirds) cages, but egg production may be lower. Layers placed in cages should be debeaked severely (see page 77). If you would like to make your own cages, you can use this relatively simple design. More elaborate designs use dropping boards or rolls of tarpaper to catch droppings.


Wire mesh A - Wire with diameter of 2 mm (1/8 in.) welded into mesh spaced 2.5 x 5 cm (1 x 2 in.). This mesh is used for all parts of the cage except the front. Wire mesh B - Same diameter wire welded into mesh spaced 5 x 10 cm (2 x 4 in.). This is used for the front. Wire - Any heavy gauge but pliable wire, to be used to join cage parts.

A Wire Mesh Cage Form - The 2.5 cm (1 in.) spaced wire should be inside the cage so that the eggs will roll out.


Cut a piece of wire mesh A 3.66 m x 150 cm (12 x 5 ft.) and bend it as shown.

Sides and Dividers

Cut pieces of wire mesh A 40 x 45 cm (16 x 18 in.). Use four such pieces, spaced 122 cm (4 ft.) apart, for colony cages; use 17 spaced 22.8 cm (9 in.) apart for double cages. Secure the sides and dividers to the form with wire every 15 cm (6 in.) on the three sides that touch the form.


Cut a piece of wire mesh B 38 cm x 3.75 m (15 in. x 12 - 1/4 ft.). Use the protruding wires on the sides and top of the front to join it to the form. Secure the front to the cage dividers with wire.

Door Opening

At the center of each cage, cut a door opening 15 x 30 cm (6 x 12 in.). Sliding Door - Using wire mesh B, cut a piece as shown by the darker lines. Bend the horizontal wires of the door opening, as shown below.

A Sliding Door

Feeders and Waterers

Feed and water troughs made of sheet metal and mounted with wire hangers run the length of the cage. If possible, the waterer should be secured on the opposite side of the cage from the feeder. Split bamboo can be used for feeders. Roth feeders and waterers should be hung as high as possible on the cage to reduce feed wastage and splashing of water onto the feeder and poultry house floor, certainly not higher than the chicken can reach. A good rule of thumb is to place equipment no higher than the tail feathers of the chicken being put into the house or cage.

Feed and Water Troughs

Use of cages

This cage is suitable for 18 layers, six to each colony cage or two to each double cage. Note: The cage must be hung so that the back of the floor is 7.6 cm (3 in.) higher than the front. This allows the eggs to roll out. Excessive slope of the cage floor will cause the eggs to break as they roll.

Hang cage on a slant so eggs will role out.

A single cage can be placed on a stand, or one or more cages can be hung from beams. The figure on page 99 shows a 72 - bird system that occupies 8.75 sq. m (85 sq. ft.). The cages should be at least 62.5 cm (25 in.) above the ground or floor, and the area below them should be cleaned frequently.

Cage on a Stand

Cages Hung from Beams

The above cage designs, which slant on all sides when hung, are recommended where wire costs are high. This design has a certain disadvantage: the feeders and waterers will have to be tightly secured to the cage to prevent them from hanging away from the cage.

An alternative design uses a little more wire for the front of the cage:



Equipment used in chicken houses can be made of local materials. This equipment receives heavy use and is cleaned often so it should be sturdy. Local wood and metal workers can help with design and construction.


Watering space - Whether you use a straight trough or round waterer, the length or circumference of the waterer's lip is important. Minimum lip length (space) is given below. Measure the lip available to the birds - when chickens use both sides of a trough, the lip available is twice the length of the trough. Additionally, the volume capacity of the waterers must be sufficient to meet the daily requirements of the chickens.

Minimum Water Space Requirements - 100 Birds

Very Important Note: In hot, dry climates, chickens may consume up to four times the above volumes of water. Therefore, watch the water consumption carefully. You may need to increase volume capacity. Never allow chickens to run out of clean water. Waterer design - The simplest waterer is a tin can inverted into a soup or pie plate, or the bottom of a larger tin can. Punch a hole about 2 cm (3/4 in.) from the open end of the tin can. Fill the can with water and cover it with the plate. With one hand on the plate and one on the tin can, quickly invert both. The position of the punched hole and the vacuum in the tin can will regulate the water level in the plate.

Inverted Waterer

Here are some other possible designs for waterers.

Other Waterers

Automatic waterer - Fit a large, clean oil drum with a faucet or other type of valve and a tight cover. Set the drum on a 1 m (3 ft.) stand of blocks, bricks or reinforced clay mud either inside or outside the chicken house. Run a hose or pipe from the faucet to one end of a galvanized sheet metal trough about 10 cm (4 in.) high and 12.5 cm (5 in.) wide. The length of the trough depends on the size of the flock; a 1.2 m (4 ft.) trough will serve 100 birds if they drink from both sides. Level the trough on flat rocks, wood blocks, etc., so that the lip of the trough is as high as the birds' backs. Fit an overflow hose or pipe 5 cm (2 in.) above the bottom of the trough in the side opposite the incoming water. Run the overflow pipe outside the house to a place where overflow water will not run back into the house. Adjust the faucet or valve so that the overflow of water is minimized. Protect the trough from contamination by birds, using a spinner (a bar that rotates so chickens cannot roost on it), or constructing a cover over it.

Automatic Watering System


A well - made feeder is:

· Durable - It must withstand frequent cleaning.

· Stable - It should not tip over when bumped by farmer or chickens.

· The correct height and depth - As birds grow, the feeder height and depth should be increased (see p. 106).

· Chickenproof - Birds can't get into or roost on it (using a spinner).

· Efficient - It should have a lip to prevent birds from "beaking" feed out onto the floor.

Distribute feeders evenly throughout the chicken house. No feeder should be more than 4.5 m (15 ft.) from a waterer. Adjust the height of the lip of the feeder to a level even with the backs of the birds. This will help prevent them from scratching contaminated litter into the feeders. In fact, the more they have to stretch their necks to reach feed, the less feed will be wasted.

Feeders with Lips to Prevent Waste

Except for the first three days with day - old chicks, feeders should not be filled more than half full, as feed will be wasted. One - third full wastes even less feed, but feed has to be supplied more often.

To reduce spoilage and mold problems try to adjust amounts of feed supplied so that the birds finish it at sundown. This will take practice. Supply the feed regularly at sunrise and about 2 p.m.; more frequently if the birds empty the feeder.

When feeding chickens supplemental vegetable matter, don't throw it on the floor - suspend it at beak level with a rope, put it in a hanging net, or place it in a wire or slatted hopper, a feeder made out of wire mesh. Feeder space (length) - As with waterers, feeder space is the linear distance of lip available to the birds - either the circumference of a round feeder tray or twice the length of a trough if the birds feed from both sides. Minimum space and depth requirements are given below.

Feed Requirements for 100 Chickens

Feeder design - This wooden trough feeder is designed for layers 15 or more weeks old. Dimensions of intermediate feeders should be - adjusted for the age and size of the birds (see feed space requirement table).

Wood Feeder

A spinner is made from a rod of wood with a metal rod attached to each end so it is able to rotate. The metal rod can simply be made from a nail by cutting off its head.

Bamboo feeders - Bamboo can be used for inexpensive feeders. To keep the birds out, use a spinner, or tightly wrap the feeder with wire, as shown below.

Bamboo Feeders

Dimensions depend upon the number and size of birds.

Hanging feeder - Hanging feeders have several advantages, including: rats have difficulty getting into them; they continuously supply feed at the proper height; it is easy to adjust their height. They can be made from large tin cans (sometimes available from restaurants), or from sheet metal.

Hanging Metal Feeder - Such a feeder with a tray of 40 cm (16 in.) in diameter is sufficient for 10 mature layers.

Grit Hoppers

Instead of teeth, birds have a muscular organ, the gizzard, to grind their food. To crush food well, gizzards must contain hard, small stones, or grit. Over time, the grit crumbles or dissolves and must be replaced. Country chickens, ranging free or in fenced - in yards, usually can find their own grit, but the farmer must supply grit to contained birds.

Good grit stones are about the size of small peas and have a rough surface. Small river gravel that is not smooth is excellent grit. Relatively inexpensive grit can be bought from commercial feed suppliers. Grit can be served in any container that the chickens can't enter and contaminate. A grit hopper that can supply 200 chickens for about a week is illustrated below. Keep the cover closed so the grit remains clean. Make sure grit always is available or the chickens will not digest their feed well.

Grit Hopper

Oyster and Egg Shell Hopper

Chickens need a source of calcium to maintain their bodies, and laying hens need extra amounts to produce strong egg shells. The usual calcium source is crushed oyster shell or limestone, purchased commercially. Powdered limestone does not work well because hens do not like to eat it. This can be supplemented with boiled and dried egg shells broken into very small pieces so that the hens don't recognize what they are eating and start to eat their own eggs. The egg shells from a flock do not provide enough calcium to meet that flock's requirements. Keep a calcium supply always available and the chickens will take what they need. Old hens require more calcium than young ones. Also, hens need more calcium in hot weather.

A calcium source can be included in a mixed feed, or provided separately in a container similar to the grit hopper. It may be convenient to use a two - compartment hopper for grit and calcium, as shown below.

A Two - comnartment Grit and Calcium - source Hopper


Providing nests for laying hens helps keep eggs clean and reduces breakage. Baskets, reinforced with sun - baked clay or cow dung, can be used for nests (see below). Usually clay is applied to the outside of the basket. Nests should be placed on the darkest side of the house, preferably where the morning sun will not hit them. Line them with fresh litter and keep it clean. Provide one nest for every five hens. In hot climates, nests should be well - ventilated.

Nesting boxes - With more than a few laying hens, the farmer probably will find that it pays to provide specially constructed nesting boxes. The concept is to enclose a volume of space about 0.028 cubic m (1 cubic ft.) per bird with wood, sheet metal, wire mesh, clay or mud bricks, woven mats, etc., and line it with litter. Well - constructed boxes will stand up to frequent cleaning. Boxes may be placed on the floor, raised by supports or attached to the wall. A set of boxes may have one, two or three tiers. Any boxes above the floor should provide a perch in front where birds can alight before entering the nest. Ideally, there should be a means of closing the nests in the evening so that birds don't roost in and dirty them. Two types of nest boxes could be used:

· Individual nest boxes are constructed so that only one hen will be able to fit in one compartment at a time.

Individual Nest Boxes

· Colony nest boxes are constructed large enough to allow four or more hens to lay at one time (4 sq. ft. or more of floor space without dividers). These are not recommended because more eggs will be broken than with individual boxes.


When they can, chickens prefer to spend the night roosting in trees. Contained birds don't need roosts, but the presence of roosts can help concentrate droppings, making sanitation easier. Building roosts takes time and money. If you use them, place a removable droppings board under them or screen off the area beneath. Clean the boards or the screened area often. Allow 20 cm (8 in.) of roost for each bird.