A chook house should provide chickens with a place to sleep and a place to lay eggs. It should offer protection from the elements, predators and vermin. The house should be a decent size to accommodate the number of chooks you require plus addition space should you ever need to expand your flock (which happens more often than not!) A floor to keep litter dry is a big bonus. A floor is also important in keep predators and vermin out.
How Does Deep Litter Work?
We use and recommend the deep bed litter system in our timber hen houses. The litter consists of untreated wood shavings which absorb droppings, odours and works to keep the chook house dry and sweet. Good housekeeping is required and fresh shavings can be added from time to time to keep the mix going. Watch out for wet spots and remove these quickly and replace with dry shavings. Deep litter should have no smell and can be incorporated into your garden compost to enrich it. Throw wheat or maize into the litter get the chooks to turn it over regularly. Make sure the litter stays dry for it to work effectively and only clean out when required. Your nose and eyes will let you know when it is time for a clean out. For some poultry keepers this might be every 2 months for others it could once or twice a year. The floor litter once ready can be added to the compost bin in layers with lawn clippings and other general garden materials or placed around trees/shrubs in your garden.
How Effective Are Slide Out Trays For Cleaning?
Not all chicken coops operate on a deep litter system. Omlet Chicken Coops are quick and easy to clean with a slide out plastic tray for collecting droppings and a large door at the back which allows easy access to the roosting bars and nesting area. Simply slide the droppings tray out and empty into the compost bin. The Eglu’s smooth plastic surfaces can be washed with a hose – no difficult corners or absorbent materials, or give it a deep clean quickly with a pressure washer. Made from energy efficient polymers, it's a hygienic home for your hens that will last for years and at the end of its life can be 100% recycled. Unlike wooden housing, you do not need to spray your Eglu Chicken Coop. As they are regularly cleaned there is no need for a deep litter system. Avoid hen houses with timber slide out trays these soon become annoying when they warp and swell with moisture and become impossible to use!
A Mobile Coop is Essential
For those of us wanting to keep a few hens in our garden finding a chicken coop that is easy to move is going to be our main priority. We highly recommend Omlet Chicken Coops if you are looking for mobility as they can be easily manoeuvred to a new area by one person. You can move the Eglu Go Up or Cube Chicken Coop on your own effortlessly around your garden using the special puncture-proof wheels and easy to operate lever mechanism. Simply press down on the operating levers and push them into the resting notches to raise the chicken run off the ground, then push or pull the hen house into its new position. The wheels move fluidly and they are puncture-proof. These coops are perfect for young families or retirees getting back into keeping a few hens in the back yard.Timber mobile coops can be cumbersome and heavy for one person to move.
What is a Chicken Coop?
A chicken coop essentially encorporates a cosy house with a roost and laying area that gives chickens access to an attached enclosed outdoor run. Omlet Chicken Coops offer the whole package. They include the hen house and the enclosed run. The runs are made from strong steel weld mesh, virtually impossible for predators to break. A unique anti-tunnel skirt sits flat on the ground and prevents animals from digging in. The run has spacious vertical sides and gives your chickens plenty of room. You can extend the run in 1m sections if you wish.The Eglu can be positioned on grass or any other surface such as wood chippings or rough ground where the chickens can rummage. The unique tunnel proof panels have been proven in rigorous testing to be predator resistant. The run means that when you are out and about you can be sure that your chickens are safe. The dark green coating is fused to the metal wires ensuring an extremely durable finish that looks great in the garden. The run comes in sections for easy transportation or storage and can be assembled in minutes.
How Many Nest Boxes?
Remember one nest box for every 5 hens is recommended. The funny thing about hens is that they all usually choose to lay in the same nest box often all sitting on top each other when it is laying time. Nest boxes should be positioned away from perches. Perches should be removable for cleaning and therefore making it easy when spot-checking for mites. In the Omlet Eglu Cube the nesting booth is partitioned off from the house giving your laying hens extra privacy and a sliding door that can be closed at night. This is a simple yet very effective design keeping the two important areas separate but linked. The roosting bar rack can be easily removed and washed or water blasted for a superior clean.
Walk In Access Makes Cleaning Easier
In a timber hen house easy access for cleaning is very important so a walk in hen house with a person sized door will make all the difference to those cleaning jobs. A shutable pop-hole for the chooks to come and go is essential.
A chook house on skids is a good idea should you require to move it from paddock to paddock. If you are looking at having a permanent house site we recommend raising the house off the ground so the chooks can use the underside area to dust bath and keep it free resident rodents. We recommend shavings in the nest boxes. Using hay or straw is not ideal as once damp is an easy breeding ground for moulds, fungi and spores plus it begins to smell dank. Avoid chook houses made of tongue and groove or batten timbers as they offer the red mite lots of lovely places to hide! Too much fancy insulation in the walls will attract and harbor red mites.
An Enclosed Run is Worth Having
Omlet Chicken Coops offer the whole package. They include the hen house and the enclosed run. The runs are made from strong steel weld mesh, virtually impossible for predators to break. A unique anti-tunnel skirt sits flat on the ground and prevents animals from digging in. The run has spacious vertical sides and gives your chickens plenty of room. You can extend the run in 1m sections if you wish.The Eglu can be positioned on grass or any other surface such as wood chippings or rough ground where the chickens can rummage. The unique tunnel proof panels have been proven in rigorous testing to be predator resistant. The run means that when you are out and about you can be sure that your chickens are safe. The dark green coating is fused to the metal wires ensuring an extremely durable finish that looks great in the garden. The run comes in sections for easy transportation or storage and can be assembled in minutes.
All chooks enjoy being able forage and roam. Do you want them to do that in your garden, backyard or paddock or would you prefer to have them confined to a run or pen? Chooks love to free range and will enjoy your veggies or perfectly manicured garden so it is best to define the boundaries and get properly set up before you bring them home. If looking to keep 3 or 4 hens then a movable chicken coop from Omlet would be ideal. The Eglu Go Chicken Coop is the simple, stylish, straightforward way to start keeping chickens. It is designed for you to keep up to 4 medium hens like Brown Shavers or 3 heavy breed heritage hens like the Light Sussex and Plymouth Rocks. If you wish to give your hens more space then a 1m run extension can be added. The New Eglu Cube Chicken Coop is the ideal way to keep up to 10 chickens in a town or country garden. The run can be extended in approximately 1m lengths to suit your requirements allowing you to keep up to 10 chickens. If let out to free range then more hens can be added up to the recommended maximum.
If looking to keep 5, 6 or more hens in a paddock or large hen run then a decent sized timber hen house is the way to go with the option of an enclosed run off the front or back. We build and supply optional wire netting runs which go with our timber hen houses plus we also offer the option of extended runs for those that wish to give their hens lots more space. Having hens in a run offers then both protection from dogs, cats and other predators. Another option would be to fence an area using 1.8m high chicken wire and place your hen house within this area. Here at Appletons we let our chooks free range in our poultry area and have enclosed our vegetable garden behind 2m high netting and it works well keeping the girls and everthing else out (including rabbits!)
The position and orientation of your hen house is also key to having happy hens. Sit the solid back wall of the hen house towards prevailing winds and rain. Ventilation is important, good air flow will reduce ammonia smells and help reduce the temperature in the hen house on hot days but remember through drafts are not favourable either. Sunshine is also key for good health and fertility in your flock so face your hen house north-west to catch morning and all day sun.
Keeping your hen house clean is key to having happy, healthy hens. Timber hen houses require more time and effort to maintain as they offer many more hidey places for red mite.
How to Clean a Timber Hen House
Depending on what system you use it should be done at least one or twice a year or more often if you have a red mite issue. Please wear a face mask (we have packs available for sale) when undertaking this job due to all the fine dander and and dust particles which could carry all sorts of nasty bacteria or fungi. We use a wide mouthed shovel brush, pan, paint scraper and big plastic bin to clean our houses. Remove the bulk of litter using the shovel and then sweep out the rest with a brush and pan and then using a scrapper remove any necessary stubborn bits. Sweep out. Spray hen house using Poultry Safeguard or Smite or Poultry Shield. Follow intructions on bottle. These are all recommended product specific hen house cleaners that clean, disinfect and kill red mite. They need to be applied onto a dry hen house so do not wash down or waterblast prior to applying product. Wash down (optional) and leave to dry and replace with clean shavings. For residual red mite control we recommend using Appletons De-Mite Powder in your hen house on a regular basis. If your hen house smells bad and is attracting flies then something is not working for you. A chook house should have no odour and be a sweet smelling home for your chooks.
Easy To Clean an Eglu Chicken Coop
The Eglu Chicken Coop makes light work of the weekly clean. Inside chickens have a roosting area fitted with a slatted floor. All the droppings fall through the slats onto the slide out dropping tray, which can then be simply emptied onto the compost heap. Remove the back panel and you can also remove the nesting box, roosting bars and partition for cleaning in the new Eglu Cube. In less than 5 minutes you can have your chickens coop spotlessly clean.
Unlike wooden housing, you do not need to treat your Eglu with any sprays - saving you time and money. Using a water blaster on a low setting or fan spray your Eglu Cube can thoroughly cleaned when needed. All grime can be easily removed and your coop will look as new. Here at Appletons we have 6 Eglu Cube Chicken Coops in use and they are a pleasure to clean. Quick and easy. They make keeping chickens a pleasure.
Make sure your hen house and run are predator proof.
Read our informative news article Losing Precious Eggs and Poultry to Predators?