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There are so many cute little hen houses on the market. There are a few things I would think about when choosing which one will work best for me.
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Chickens need around 12 hours of light in the winter time to keep them laying eggs regularly. I think it is important to have windows in the hen-house so they can get as much natural light as possible.
A light can be turned on
with a timer to give them the extra hours of light they need, when the days are shorter in the winter, so they will continue to lay eggs. Keep in mind that the breed of the chicken and also the age of the chicken will also be a factor for laying eggs all through the winter. I have found the older the chickens get the fewer eggs they will lay. I have had a few of the breeds that seem to lay eggs more consistently than others even as they get older.
Another important point in choosing
Another important point in choosing your chicken coop is ease of cleaning. I have had a chicken coop that has linoleum on the floor. This made it so easy to clean. I could just sweep the floor off anytime needed and it would clean up so nicely. I found it is very important to have a floor of some sort. This will keep predators from digging up underneath. I have had a coop with a dirt floor before and they were able to dig underneath the walls of the coop and be right inside with my chickens. This is when I upgraded to a new coop.
I have seen some coops with just a wire floor for easy cleaning. It was raised up off of the ground so the manure would fall to the ground. This is probably an OK idea in the summertime, but I think they would get really cold in the winter with the cold air coming up from the bottom.
This brings me to another thought. I have talked with people at the store we owned about chicken coops and housing other animals. I feel that if we put our animals in a really warm airtight building it is not healthy for them. First off, when they do go outside they do not have a good winter coat on them, and they end up getting sick because they get cold and warm. If they are more acclimated to the weather I think it is better for them. My other thought is they do need a little ventilation. I think this also keeps them healthy. Something to keep in mind when building or picking out a chicken coop.
Chickens love to go outside. I feel it is important to have some sort of safe outdoor chicken run for them. Or a place that they can free roam safely. I think it is healthy for them to have the choice to go outside in any weather.
Another point to consider. Gathering the eggs. I had 24 hens at one time and a nesting box that had eight slots for chickens to lay their eggs in. I found that there were only about 2-3 favorite nests. They seem to like the nesting boxes that are in a quiet corner and they all seem to choose the same ones. There are some nesting boxes that you gather eggs from the outside of the coop. I think this is a great idea.
While there is a lot to consider when looking for a hen-house there are also lots of cute options to choose from.
Good luck with your hen-house hunting! May you enjoy all of your little chicks!
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