Raising chickens at home and having fresh eggs available on a daily basis: this is possible, provided certain practical provisions are respected. The adoption of chickens requires the creation of a space specific to the animal while taking into account the parameters of area and location.
Let’s not forget that the hen is an outdoor animal
The hen is a domestic animal that exists in several breeds: laying hens, mixed hens, giant hens, etc. The breeding of this poultry is relatively simple and less restrictive than other animals of the same category.
The hen is par excellence an outdoor animal. It therefore needs space for its development. It is also in this space that she draws the elements necessary for her diet. Remember, chickens are omnivorous and therefore eat a little of everything.
In addition, this poultry contributes to waste reduction, as it can consume up to 150 kg of food waste per year. For optimal breeding, it is recommended to divide the daily ration (about 150 g) in two doses at the rate of one meal in the morning and another in the evening. A watering space must also be provided to allow the hens to refresh themselves permanently.
This means that in addition to laying eggs, the hen also contributes in its own way to the preservation of the environment. It is also useful for ridding gardens of small pests and slugs or even mixing organic residues for good composting.
Finally, like other animals, health support is essential to maintain the hens in good health. It will therefore be necessary to ensure that they are vaccinated from an early age and plan an annual visit to the veterinarian, except in special circumstances.
How much space per hen?
Although living outdoors, hens need a shelter with specific dimensions.
A shelter adapted to the number of hens
The henhouse is the space reserved for the hens to shelter them, but also to protect them from predators. It is in this space that the hens sleep and lay their eggs. They therefore need optimal comfort to do this.
The size of a chicken coop depends on the number of hens to house there. On average, there should be at least 1.5 to 2 m² of floor space for 4 hens. It is important not to allow less than 0.40 m² per hen.
This dimension concerns only the living area. Within the henhouse, there should also be a nest where the hens can lay their eggs in peace. The average size for this space is 20 to 30 cm wide by 30 to 40 cm deep per hen.
Finally, you should know that hens like to get high often to rest. It then returns to install in the shelter a perch with a size of 15 cm wide by 25 cm long per animal. By the way, apart from the size, it is important to pay attention to the material of the chicken coop. The ideal would be a wood with a thickness of 1.2 cm.
How much space is there outside the shelter?
Outside the henhouse, spaces must be created to allow the hens to play and move around. This space is divided between the feeder, the waterer and the grassy course.
In terms of measurement, it takes 20 cm wide for the meal space of each hen and ideally a feeder for 4 hens. For the drinker, it is recommended to provide a 5 liter container for 4 hens. Finally, the grassy course is the activity area for the hens.
This is where they will peck, take sand baths or scratch and dig in the ground. It should be large enough that they don’t step on top of each other or run out of grass to the point of pecking between them.
To do this, it takes an average of 10 m² per hen for the enclosure. This space must, however, be delimited by fences or nets to secure the hens, even outdoors.
The risks of too small a space
Putting the hens in a narrow hen house is a source of stress for the chickens. In the absence of sufficient space, the hens are likely to fight regularly, which will result in injury or death.
In addition, a chicken coop that is too small promotes the proliferation of bacteria and parasites, thus exposing the poultry to disease. The same applies to the outdoor space which, when it is cramped, quickly becomes muddy and no longer offers the hens the natural nutrients essential for their balance.
The best places to install a chicken coop
Depending on the size of the flock, the hen house can be installed in the garden or on a balcony. As the last case is not the most recommended, it should be borne in mind that the hen house must allow the hens to be protected from humidity, drafts and temperature changes.
To do this, a good chicken coop must be built on a grassy area, with sufficient drainage and in the shade of trees. In addition, to avoid humidity, the chicken coop should be raised off the ground to a height of about 4 feet. However, it must be a little distant from the house and also from the kennel, in case of the presence of a dog.