Our chickens shelter, but not in place. The idea of putting large numbers of animals in the same place for long periods of time is what drove agriculture into its dependency on pharmaceuticals. So our chickens move, and we need to make sure their shelter can move with them. The need for shelter changes for chickens as they grow. Just after hatching we keep them in insulated, heated brooders because they can’t regulate their own body temperature yet. After that early phase, once they begin to feather out, they require less heat but still need some protection from the elements, and they especially need protection from hawks, eagles, owls, coyotes, foxes, rats, racoons, opossums, neighborhood dogs, feral cats, and bobcats. On our farm the raptors are the most predatory. So to give them access to fresh grass while protecting them from hungry beaks and teeth our chickens live in portable open air shelters.
I just finished building the third chicken shelter. I built it from greenhouse hoops we bought from a neighbor and I’ve got to say, this is our best yet. This shelter is taller, better ventilated, more accessible, and includes a few crafty design features to speed up our daily chores.
I need to build one more of these this year, but I’ll wait a little while before getting into it. These shelter-building projects consume a lot of time so I’ve got to take care of a few other things that have been neglected while working on this.