In year 8 at my high school you have to raise an animal or plant, so I decided to raise chickens for my ‘home project’. My family used to have chickens, a long time before I had to do this project. They had a simply designed chook house, where the chickens had to be put away each night. Sure enough, one night we forgot to put the chickens away, and they were thoroughly enjoyed by some foxes.
This old chook house was demolished after the chickens were gone and when it came time to raise more chickens for my project, my dad and I had to design and build a new chook shed.
The idea of this new chook shed was to try to make it easy to manage; we didn’t want to have to put away the chickens every night. My dad thought of an excellent way to overcome this main problem. Instead of making a typical chook shed, on the ground with a concrete floor, we decided to make an elevated shed, with a wooden floor, bolted to four large wooden posts that suspended it about 1130mm (4ft) off the ground.
As you can see in this photo above, there is a series of perches so that the chickens can go in and out of the shed as they please. The door that they use to get in and out is always open. It is high enough from the ground that foxes cannot jump up into the shed and the perches are too skinny for a fox to climb up. This means the chickens can always go in and out of the shed, and they put themselves away at night.
You can see in this photo that there is a fence surrounding the pen. This is dug under the ground so that the foxes cannot dig under the fence and is loosely fastened to the posts. The fact that the fence is floppy makes it harder for foxes to climb up, so the perches are really a precaution. If by some crazy chance a fox manages to get inside the pen, they still can’t get into the shed. On numerous occasions, we have let the chickens free-range outside of the pen and forgotten to put them inside at night. Luckily they have managed to put themselves away and were safe from foxes.
This shed design has been very useful for me and my family, not having to let the chickens out in the morning and put them away at night makes keeping chooks a whole lot easier.
There are other benefits to this design too; on top of each post there is a piece of metal called an ant-cap. This means mice cannot climb up into the shed and eat the chook pellets. Also being elevated makes it easy to sweep out old bedding from the shed into a wheel barrow below, rather than having to shovel it up into one. The shed also provides a constant shade for the chickens to cool off in underneath it.
Not only is it good to be free of pellet-stealing mice from a financial perspective, it is good because if you have mice, mice attract snakes and where I live there are a lot of brown snakes around, which for the sake of people, you really don’t want around.
We also added an electric fence along the top of the fence and sensor lights to deter foxes when they are walking in the paddocks nearby. The electric fence is on the outside of the fence so that if a fox manages to climb up the fence they will get zapped by the wire at the top. These weren’t essential parts of the chook shed so they don’t have to be included. There’s also a heat lamp but that’s only for young chickens that need to be kept warm. These are all powered by a 10W solar panel and car battery.
Here is a list of all the materials and equipment we used to make the shed and get it ready for the chickens:
Roof screws (100), galvanised corrugated sheet, timber (soft), timber (hard), wire mesh, posts, ant caps, feeder, waterer, food, heat lamp, hinges, padbolts, window, angle grinder wheels, steel rod, posthole digger, starter crumbles, grower pellets, layer pellets, shell grit, sensor lights, electric fence, charge controller, 10 watt solar panel, car battery.
Here is the door we use to get into the shed if we need to.
Easy access to the egg-laying boxes which are made from old cupboards.
Inside the shed
A old window provides cross ventilation on hot days.