Housing is necessary to protect chicken against predators, thieves, bad weather and to provide shelter for egg laying and broody hens.
Poultry House Photo Available
• Location should be dry and flat
• Poorly drained sites should be avoided or alternatively the house can be elevated from the ground
• Select a secure site away from predators and thieves
• In rectangular houses the end walls should face an East-West direction
• Clear all grass and bushes for about 3 meters on all sides of the house to keep away rodents and reptiles
• Ensure winds ventilate the house without causing draughts (cold)
• To protect against build-up of disease causing agents and parasites the house must be easily accessible and easy to clean
• Poultry houses should have openings on either side for ventilation
• A hole or ridge on the roof will ensure proper ventilation and give light
• Use locally available material like timber, iron sheets, off-cuts and/or clay bricks
• Remove all barks from wood to reduce the parasite load
• Use slatted or raised floors to remove droppings and avoid predators
• Remove any sharp edged objects from the floor to prevent possible injury
• A concrete floor is recommended for easy cleaning and disinfection
Litter should be provided on all deep litter floor systems and laying nests. Types of litter include:
• Wood shavings
• Shredded paper
• Mostly important for laying hens in controlling number and weight of eggs
• Light intensity should be such that a person can read a newspaper at the center of the house
• In a crowded house, transparent roofing sheets should be fitted to improve lighting
• Excessive lighting may lead to cannibalism and other vices
|Age in weeks||Light intensity|
- Perches are important for chicken to roost on at night and during daytime.
- They also reduce boredom, which can lead to vices like pecking and fighting.
- Each one-meter perch may roost five adult birds.
- Perches are best made from rounded sticks, which match the size of the birds’ feet
Laying nests ease egg collection and help avoid dirty and cracked eggs and should be provided at the onset of laying (18 weeks of age).
- Avoid placing nests on the ground or outside the chicken house as this will expose the eggs to predators and thieves
- Remove eggs continuously from the nests to stop hens from going broody
- Nests should be placed inside the chicken house and preferably above the ground
- Provide one laying nest for every 5 hens
- The front is about 30cm high and the back 45cm high
- To prevent egg eating, laying nests should be placed in dark areas of the house
- Brooding nests are individual nests and should be placed in quiet and dark places where they are easily removed for cleaning
- Once the hen is broody it may be necessary to move her to an isolated place to avoid other hens disturbing her or going broody as well
There are two types of nests
- Communal nests (more than one hen sharing)
- Individual nests where one hen lays at a time
- Biosecurity is a set of management practices which when followed, reduces the likelihood of introducing or spreading disease causing organisms Infectious agents can survive for a certain period in the environment and spread via persons, animals and materials that might carry the agent.
Common bio-security measures
- Location: Avoid locations close to existing premises (between farms 500m-1km); Use prevailing wind directions when planning to minimize risk of airborne infection.
- All-in-all-out: Reduce buildup of disease causing organisms by breaking the rearing-cycle for different ages.
- Litter disposal: Remove used litter and properly dispose and disinfect it.
- Site security: Reduces possible introduction of infection to premises mainly from personnel moving between houses and flocks, equipment and other innate objects. Use foot and vehicle bath.
- Stocking density on a deep litter floor system
|1-10 weeks||10 birds/m2|
|11-18 weeks||8 birds/m2|
|19-78 weeks||5 birds/m2|
Feeders and drinkers
Feed troughs should be provided in the house. Naivasha chicken long feeders have proved suitable and economical. Round plastic or metal trough feeders are available and good but may lead to feed wastage.
- Feeders should be filled to about ½ to 2/3 full
|1-10 weeks||7 cm per bird|
|11-78 weeks||12 cm per bird|
|• Feed without restrictions
• Avoid feed wastage
The livestock sub sector contributes 7.9-10% GDP to the Kenyan economy. Out of the Agricultural GDP, which is 25% of the national GDP, the poultry industry is estimated to contribute about 1.7 %. The industry has over the years, progressed to become one of the most important livestock enterprises particularly in rural households where over 70% of the country’s population live and derive their livelihood.
Poultry are the most abundant livestock species, and domestic chicken (98%) are the most important, with other poultry species constituting 2% of the current total estimated population of 32 million birds.
- Brooding houses should be isolated from other houses containing older birds. The producer should follow an “all-in, all-out” program, never mixing birds of different ages.
- All facilities must thoroughly be cleaned, and disinfected.
- Before the arrival of chicks the brooder ring and heaters must be checked to ensure that they are working properly.
- On arrival chicks should be offered fresh feed and water containing glucose where chicks are stressed.
Cut an 8 x 4 ft hardboard sheet or the equivalent into two equal parts lengthwise and join the pieces to form a circle as shown below (How to make brooder ring).
- Feeders and drinkers should be cleaned and disinfected two days before use.
- All equipment should be arranged and the litter spread.
- The brooder ring should be prepared and curtains fixed on the open sides for insulation of the brooder house. Spray with good quality disinfectant two days before the chicks arrive.
- Provide foot bath at the entrance with lime powder or any other disinfectant.
- Ideal brooding temperatures are as measured 5 cm above the litter surface
- Evening is the best time to observe the chicks and make temperature adjustment
- Thermometers may not always be available. Therefore, use the behavior of chicks as a guide
- Adequate floor, feeder and drinking spaces are also important
- Relative humidity, light and ventilation should be provided for optimum comfort of the chicks.
Source of heating
- Domestic heaters (jiko) 1 for 100 chicks
- Infrared lamps (250 watts) 1 for 250 chicks
- Pancake heater 1 for 1000 chicks
By: Dr Anne Wachira