Raising small poultry flocks on the farm or in the backyard has become very popular. The most important things to remember when choosing the type of housing are provisions for adequate shelter from weather, adequate ventilation and also protection from predators.
You should choose housing that is easy to build from readily available materials. Housing should also have a low maintenance cost and support the changing needs of your flock.
Over the years, a variety of designs for backyard flocks have hit the market – each with its own pros and cons. The best design for you depends on the number and types of birds you have and on how much you want to spend.
It is a good idea to make the coop tall enough for you to stand inside; you will clean it more often if you can get inside. If you need a lower coop for some reason, make sure you have easy access to make cleaning easier.
One popular option for backyard flocks is a bottomless, movable coop. The owner can move it at regular intervals so the birds always have access to fresh grass. These housing units also protect birds from predators.
This type of structure is also helpful for small production flocks. You can use the basic hoop design and amend it for the size of your flock. You can even make an easy and relatively inexpensive portable housing system with cattle panels.
The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment compiled a series of videos from Kentucky State University showing step-by-step instructions for poultry housing construction on its website at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Housing.html. The site also provides links to other housing plans.
For more information about backyard and small poultry flocks, contact the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service at 549-1430; e-mail DL_CES_WHITLEY@EMAIL.UKY.EDU; or visit the office located in Cumberland Regional Mall, Suite 34, Williamsburg.