The type of housing that you choose depends on the climate of your area, what is available, and what are your goals? Are you in a cold climate or a warm one? Is there a building or part of the garage that can be used? The main purpose of housing is to 1- protect them from predators, 2 -protect them from the elements and 3- to confine them. You don't want to step in anything in your bare feet on the way to get the morning paper.
Also with housing you must consider 1- your goals. Are you just keeping a family flock or do you intend to breed and even show. 2- the breed that you plan on working with. Standard Cochins require more space(about 4 square feet per bird) than Old English Game Bantams (about 1 square foot per bird). 3- The number of birds that you plan on keeping (the number of birds, times the square foot requirement for that breed, equals the amount of floor space required).
What ever you use the birds must have light - either natural, artificial or both - and fresh air. The area must be safe, bright, clean and dry.
There are several sites on the Net to obtain plans for poultry housing. Virginia Cooperative Extension has three plans that might be useful. backyardchickens.com has a design of a cute small coop that will look neat in any yard. Or you can visit our Small House Plans or MIMI's one unit version of our coop and Lou and Joan Devillon also have used our design to make their own version. And for manufactured housing try NFP Manufactured Poultry Housing or in the United Kingdom try Forsham Cottages or www.henhouses.co.uk. And for something a little different here is a link to Movable Pens.This coop was designed by Joke Osinga in the Netherlands. Here are two new links we have added: http://users.pandora.be/jaak.rousseau/index.htm and http://www.backyardchickens.com/coopdesigns.html Or how about Chicken Tractors? Below, at the bottom of the page, is a list of Chicken Tractor sites, compiled by Katy Skinner.
If these do not meet your needs, there are several different places to obtain plans for housing. There are books and magazines on the topic. Or you can modify any plan for an out door building to suit your needs. For the daring you can design your plans. Keep in mind the above requirements of shelter, space, fresh air. and light when choosing your housing.
Chickman is the owner and chief engineer of Custom Designs & Services and he also raises chickens. He is currently selling plans for 2 different models of coops. Model #HP97102 is a mobile unit on wheels that can house 10 birds. Model #97101 is a permanent structure that can house 20 birds. Each plan includes roosts, nests, window, ventilation, and doors. Included in each package is scaled drawings, bill of materials, and assembly instructions. He will also design a building to meet your needs. Contact him by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) more more information.
If the birds are to be housed in cages these can be either "homemade" constructed from wood and wire or purchase. Purchased cages are generally made with wire, with a wooden floor.
Furnishings for the "house" are quite simple. If the birds, as a flock, are to be housed in a single building, nest and roost will be needed. Roost can be made from small trees or 2x2's cut to desired length. Nest can be as simple as old pails nailed to the wall, to wooden boxes constructed for this purpose, to commercial metal nest. Nest and roost are not required if the birds are to be housed in cages.
Food and water dishes are also needed. These can be either commercial, bought from a feed store or supply house, or containers that were recycled for this purpose. With baby chicks it is better to use the commercial water fountains so that there is less chance for the chicks to fall into the water and drown.
Many different materials can be used for litter to cover the floor. These help to absorb the waste from the birds. Hay, straw, wood shavings, dried leaves, and shredded paper can be used. Wood shavings work the best They can be used with adults and babys alike. Although they are the most expensive, they absorb very well. They are also the easiest to find. They will break down into a power like substance, making cleaning very easy. Just scoop up with a shovel and dump into a bag. This can be used to fertilize the lawn, garden, and flower beds. An added benefit of keeping poultry. Not only do you get enjoyment from your hobby, so does your lawn.
I use to give my spent litter to a friend for his garden. He had hard clay soil. It improved it greatly. Then he passed away. I had all this "fertilizer and no place to put it. What to do with it?? I decided to do some landscaping. The picture of the daffodils for "Spring 98 Hatch was from our yard.How about a POND AND FALLS?