Need A Bigger Nest? How To Turn A Pre-Engineered Metal Building Into An "Eggscellent" Chicken House!
Eggs are a favorite food for many Americans. Versatile, satisfying and easy to prepare, eggs are perfect for any meal or snack. Because many egg aficionados prefer the taste and quality of very fresh eggs, many now choose to have their own flock of laying hens on their own property, even when living inside cities and towns. If you are part of this growing trend of backyard egg producers, or plan to become one in the future, these tips will help you easily convert a pre-engineered metal building into a safe, comfortable and attractive chicken house for your flock.
Chicken Farming Is Well-Suited for Metal
Even if you consider caring for your chickens to be merely an enjoyable hobby with edible benefits, it is actually a form of small-scale farming. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to copy other successful farming practices to ensure that your chickens are housed properly. Over the past several decades, many farmers have moved away from using wood to build barns, chicken houses and other structures and have begun to use metal buildings, instead. Although there are many reasons for this, the main ones are:
- convenience - a pre-engineered metal building can often be completed in a matter of days, instead of the weeks or months required for large wooden structures
- security - metal buildings can deter many predators that would ordinarily be able to chew through wood or other less durable building materials
- fire-resistance - in fire-prone areas, a metal building has few combustible materials to be ignited by blowing embers or the flames from a fast-moving grass or brush fire
Most backyard chicken flocks can be housed easily in a metal storage-type building. If you live in a populated area, this type of building is likely to be permissible under local ordinances or regulations where other types of structures might be prohibited. As a caution, always confirm your plans with your local authorities before making any type of structural changes to property located within a regulated area.
Choosing the Right Size Building
Depending upon the actual size of the chickens and the number in the flock, you will need to make sure that your chicken house has sufficient area for them to move about on the floor, as well as space for nest boxes and roosts. According to information from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, laying hens require a minimum of:
- 1.5 square feet of indoor floor space (for larger breeds, this number should be increased to a minimum of 2 square feet)
- 6-10 inches of perch space on the roosts
- one nesting box for every 4-5 laying hens in the flock
When computing the size building you need, it is wise to allow additional space to account for growth of your flock or a future decision to begin keeping larger breeds of chickens. It is also wise to choose a style of building that includes windows or skylights to add light inside the chicken house and vents to promote healthy ventilation.
Recycling Provides Excellent Materials for Nests and Roosts
Using recycled materials inside your chicken house to provide nesting and roosting spaces is a fast and inexpensive way to help get your flock settled into their new space. Roosts can be readily formed by suspending lengths of plumbing pipe, wooden poles, thick dowel rods or even old ladders or tree branches in a sloping fashion on one wall of the chicken house. You can also use the railed sides of an old baby crib or any material you have that will provide a horizontal space for roosting.
Nest boxes can also be created from recyled materials, such as milk crates, old dresser drawers, bins or sturdy cardboard boxes. Place them on the floor of the metal building along one wall and add a few inches of straw or dried grass clippings to provide a comfortable spot for your hens to lay their eggs.
Alocal pre-engineered steel building company like Commercial Industries Company Inc. will be able to help you choose the style and size that will best suit your needs.