Finding a suitable housing solution for our table chickens has always caused me a headache. Firstly, it needs to be cheap and more importantly it needs to be easily movable. These two requirements mean that building a wooden structure is not really an option.
For the past two years I have been using a 20-year-old canvas tent. It’s a tent that my wife remembers using on holiday with her parents when she was little. It had been stocked away in my father in laws cellar for many years, until he had a clear out and asked if we had any use for it. As it happens…
Providing Shelter for free range table chickens
We raise an average of 100 table chickens for meat every year. The chickens are free range and are contained using temporary electric fencing. We buy them at 6 weeks old, so they are hardy enough to go straight outside. But no matter how old they are, they need a suitable shelter. Chickens don’t like getting too wet from rain or being in full sun for long periods.
And although I always have some chickens that don’t mind sleeping in the open, I prefer that they can go to ‘bed’ at night.
Making a mobile chicken shelter
We get 40 to 60 chickens at a time, and our fenced area is about 60m2. This means we need to move them to a fresh area of grass every 2 to 3 weeks. This involves moving the electric fencing and the shelter.
For a number of years I have been using an old 3m x 2m tractor trailer with some corrugated sheets laid on top as a roof. This worked well, but it always took some time to persuade the chickens to use the ladder to get into it.
Re-locating the chickens was easy, shut the chickens in the trailer, take away the fence. Move the trailer to the new location, re install the electric fencing and let the chickens out. All done!
Using a tent as a chicken shelter
The idea of using the tent as a chicken house came when I was offered, at very short notice, 35 chickens that were 8 weeks old. My tractor trailer shelter was in the shed to be repaired; the floor had rotted out. I had to come up with a shelter of some kind, quickly.
Remembering the tent we had been given, I thought, we go on family camping holidays every summer. If it’s good enough for us, it must be good enough for our chickens. With that, I dug out the tent and went about setting it up.
Within 30 minutes the new chicken shelter was up, along with the electric fencing. I did get a few comments from the neighbors (and family), but hey! It works. With a bit of fresh straw spread on the floor it was time to see what the chickens thought.