One of the major requirements for farmers who want to venture into poultry and chicken farming is the need to house the birds.
The poultry farmer must decide what kind of housing to construct for their chickens, depending on scale and objectives of the poultry project.
In the early 1900s, there was no specified poultry housing like we see today. They were housed in barns with other animals or in a separate house. In Africa, they slept in the kitchen area and were left to forage during the day.
The birds were not protected from adverse elements, hence mortality rate was as high as 40 per cent. During cold seasons, they would suffer from the cold. Likewise, they would suffer from adverse heat during hot seasons.
During this period, poultry was not considered a major category of livestock. Attention to this popular livestock category began in the mid-1920s, which saw the development of specialised chicken housing and improvement in productivity. The mortality rate also dropped.
Need for poultry housing
Poultry like any other living creature needs some kind of shelter. Whether the chickens are free-range, pastured or caged, the poultry farmer will need to house poultry so as to:-
• Protect the birds against adverse weather. This includes adverse heat, rain, and wind.
• Ensure proper feeding. The farmer is able to give enough feed to the chickens if they are housed.
• Provide a safe place to lay eggs.
• Carry out effective poultry disease control measures.
Protect the flock from predators and pests. Protection from animals that eat chicken or can spread diseases to the flock.
Supervise the chickens in a better way. This includes measuring progress.
The type of poultry housing depends on the stage in life and also their purpose.
Brooder – this is used to keep layer chicks for 0 to about 8 weeks of age.
Grower house – Used to house layer chicks from 9 to 18 weeks of age.
Brooder grower house – Used to house layers from 0 to 18 weeks of age.
Layer house – Used to house layers from 18 weeks to 72 weeks.
Broiler house - Used to house broilers up to 6 weeks of age
Breeder house - Used to house male and female birds in the proper ratio. The purpose of this is mating.
The above categories can be environmentally controlled (EC) so as to provide the optimal conditions for growth and production.
There is no limit to the length of the poultry house. This is determined by the number of chicken and the size of the land
The recommended height of a poultry house is six to seven feet (eaves) and 10 to 12 feet at the centre. If keeping the bird in cages, the height is determined by the tiers of the cages. This can be three or four tiers.
Width of a poultry house
The width of a poultry house in tropical areas should not exceed
25 feet, in order to allow for enough ventilation at the middle. If the width is wider than 25 feet, there will not be ample aeration when it is hot. If you intend to have a width of more than 25 feet, ridge ventilation with a proper overhang is required in the middle. In environmentally controlled houses, the width can reach up to 40 feet since exhaust fans control the ventilation
It is important to have a well-done foundation in order to prevent water from getting into the poultry house. The foundation should be concrete extending 1 to 1.5 feet underground and 1 to 1.5 feet above the ground.
The floor of a poultry house should be made of concrete and free from any dampness. It should extend 1.5 feet outside the wall so as to deter vermin like rats and snakes.
Doors of a poultry house
The doors should open to the outside of the poultry house. The preferred door size is 6 feet by 2.5 feet. At the entry, there should be a foot bath.
Walls of a poultry house
The sidewalls of an open-sided poultry house should be 1 foot to 1.5 feet. The sidewall will protect the chicken from extreme direct wind and rain.
The roof of a poultry house
The roof of a poultry house can be made of any cost-friendly roofing material. It can be on any design that allows good airflow and water drainage when it rains.
The design of the open-sided poultry house should follow certain factors so as to ensure optimum productivity from the poultry farm.
The length of the house should be in the east-west direction in order to prevent direct sunshine over the poultry.
The full size of the house will depend on the number of birds you want to keep. If using the deep litter system, broilers will require one square foot while layers require two square feet. For example, if you intend to keep 5,000 broilers in one house, the poultry house plan for the 5,000 chicken should cover 5,000 square feet. If you intend to keep 2,000 layers, the poultry house plan for the 2,000 layers should cover 4,000 square feet.