Our chickens have enjoyed their hen house with an enclosed chicken run for almost a year now! They’re well settled into their home, and it’s a great time to take a tour of their lovely accommodations.
The chicken house & run features an elevated hen house and an attached run. The whole enclosure is situated in the woods and is well shaded. Less light may inhibit egg production somewhat, but the shade helps keep the area cooler and that’s important in the Georgia heat!
The hen house is sheathed in metal for durability. The roof is at an angle so that Georgia torrential rains are funneled away from the run, and it also has ventilation. The hen house has doors and nesting boxes at either end. Fencing is embedded underneath the run so predators can’t tunnel through. Most of the time our chickens are let out in the morning to free range, but sometimes we need to leave them cooped up. This set up allows them some freedom of movement, in a safely enclosed setting.
Inside the attached chicken run, there are many perches to choose from! Chickens prefer to be up as high as possible when roosting for the night. A tarp covers the run so that it stays somewhat dry. During the winter, we also tarp the sides at night, to help keep the flock warm. See the shredded tarp in the back? A possum decided he wanted chicken one night, but was promptly dispatched by our neighbor’s coon hound. Our puppies were sound asleep inside the house! Some farm dogs we have…
The chicken run is completely enclosed with not only chicken wire but also hog fencing. The fencing is thicker and tougher to chew through and deters bigger hunters like foxes, while the chicken wire keeps out smaller predators like weasels. Every possible entry point is covered with both types of fencing, to ensure full protection for the birds at night.
We use straw bedding for our chickens, to provide compost for our garden. The bedding is raked out and fresh bedding is added to the chicken run on a regular basis; sometimes bi-weekly, sometimes monthly. The main purpose of the bedding is to help keep the run area clean. The straw traps the droppings and soaks up moisture.
The chicken waterer and feeder hang freely from a ceiling crossbar. The chickens get fresh water daily, and the feeder is removed in the morning to encourage the chickens to free range as much as possible. They can be quite lazy and will gladly hang out by the buffet instead of working for their meals! A couple of hours before bedtime, we hang the feeder back up. Any chicken that didn’t quite get full from their daily forage can top off on some high-quality layer pellet.
Inside the hen house are six nesting boxes, three on each end. They are all about 1 cubic foot. Hens prefer to be safely enclosed when laying their eggs and they all have favorite laying spots. This lady decided that underneath the carefully constructed nesting boxes was the perfect place to set on some eggs.
The bottom of the hen house is also lined with metal sheeting, to help keep it clean. The chickens generally do not leave droppings in the hen house so it doesn’t need cleaning too often.
That concludes the tour! It may not be the fanciest chicken coop on the planet, but our flock seems happy with their roomy enclosure. Well, happy as long as they’re not disturbed during sitting time!