Keeping small poultry flocks has its advantages (such as less space required) but also its challenges (such as providing suffient heat during cold weather).
The factsheets linked to below provide a wide selection of information to help small flock and backyard poultry owners select the appropriate housing system for their situation. This could include building a new barn or are converting existing buildings.
Before deciding on a housing design it is good to determine how much space your require for the flock you are interested in starting, or the size you plan on having in the future.
Poultry management specifications (University of Florida)
Construction: Specific requirements (University of Maryland)
Housing has several functions which should be taken into account when picking a design:
- Provide shelter from the weather
- Provide adequate ventilation
- Provide protection from predators
In addition, the housing should have be easy to build out of readily available materials, have low maintenance cost; and able to support changing needs as your flock changes.
Housing backyard chickens (Utah State University)
In addition to the housing itself, a number of useful farm devices can be made. These include feed hoppers, watering rack; drinking fountain, roosts, nests, coops for transporting birds, chicken catcher and even automatic doors.
Handy farm devices and how to make them - Poultry and Bees (Journey to Forever online libary)
Automatic chicken coop doors (Commercial site in Indiana)
Construction, insulation and ventilation of game bird facilities (University of Florida)
Peafowl housing (American Peafowl Association)
Videos with ideas related to poultry housing:
Housing and keeping adult chickens (Heritage Poultry Conservancy)
Tip: To deal with manure, especially in backyard flocks, one idea is to spread wood ash on the chicken manure under the roosts. The chicken manure and wood ash react, driving off the nitrogen and drying out the manure. The result is an easily handled, easy-to-store, organic fertilizer that is rich in potassium and phosphorus.
flow of the chicken coop
Check out photos from different websites to get an idea of the types of housing already being used by small and backyard poultry flocks.
Looking for ideas? The photos on the gamebird.com website are a good place to start
Homemade comfort ages (University of Maryland)
Small-scale poultry housing (Virigina Tech)
For those who prefer to work with designs, several websites offer you a choice of different housing plans.
Backyard chickens - photos, designs and instructions for a variety of different coop shapes and sizes
Poultry plans (North Dakota State University) - A collection of construction plans for poultry buildings of different sizes and function as well as plans for miscellaneous poultry equipment (nest boxes, feeder, etc.)
Chicken coop building instructions (Backyard poultry magazine)
Construction plans from the University of Tennessee
Poultry house for 40-50 birds (with feed bin and nests shown)
- Constructing a hoop-pen for pasture poultry production
- Part 1: Introduction and materials required
- Part 2: Assembling the base with cattle panels
- Part 3: Adding the door frame
- Part 4: Adding the back and corner braces
- Part 5A: Adding the welded wire
- Part 5B: Adding the welded wire
- Part 6: Adding the tarp
- Part 7: Adding the tow rope
- Part 8: Good management practices
- Factsheet on building a hoop-pen, University of Kentucky
How to raise heritage turkeys on pasture - Facilities, shelters and fencing (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
How to raise heritage turkeys on pasture: Brooding and brooder pens (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
Building a greenhouse-style pasture broiler pen (Pasture producer's personal page)
Portable poultry house (University of California, Davis)
Moveable pen for fowl (University of Tennessee - Martin)
Stop lightning and other electrical problems that can kill birds (Auburn University)
Poultry houses: What is in your attic? (University of Kentucky)
Poultry houses: Attic inlets (University of Kentucky)
Cold cathode lighting for broiler houses (University of Kentucky)
Common energy hogs of a poultry house (University of Maryland)
DISCLAIMER: References to commercial products or services provided via this Web site are intended for informational and educational purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Kentucky Extension, or the University of Kentucky as a whole.