Poultry is housed for comfort protection, efficient production and convenience of the poultry man.
Essentials of Good Housing:
Comfort: The best egg production is secured from birds that are comfortable and happy. To be comfortable a house must provide adequate accommodation; be reasonably cool in summer, free-from draft and sufficiently warm during the winter provides adequate supply of fresh air and sunshine; and remain always dry. Given these the hen responds excellently. Protection: Includes safeguards against theft and attack from natural enemies of the birds such as the fox, dog, cat kite, crow, snake, etc. The birds also should be protected against external parasites like ticks, lice and mites. Convenience: The house should be located at a convenient place, and the equipment so arranged as to allow cleaning and other necessary operations as required.
Location of Poultry House:
In planning a poultry house, the location should be taken into consideration. In selecting site for poultry houses the following factors should be considered. 1.Relation to other building: The poultry house should not be close to the home as to create unsanitary conditions. On the other hand it should not be too far away either because this will require more time in going to and for in caring for the birds. In general at least three trips should be made daily to the poultry house in feeding, watering, gathering the eggs, etc. 2.Exposure: The poultry house should face south or east in moist localities. A southern exposure permits more sunlight in the house than any of the other possible exposures. An eastern exposure is almost as good as a southern one. Birds prefer morning sunlight to that of the afternoon. The birds are more active in the morning and will spend more time in the sunlight. 3.Soil and drainage: If possible the poultry house should be placed on a sloping hillside rather than a hilltop or in the bottom of a valley. A sloping hillside provides good drainage and affords some protection.
The type of soil is important if the birds are to be given a range. A fertile well drained soil is desired. This will be a sandy loam rather than a heavy clay soil. A fertile soil will grow good vegetation which is one of the main reasons for providing range. If the poultry house is located on flat poorly drained soil, the yards should be tiled otherwise the birds should be kept in total confinement. 4.Shade and Protection: Shade and protection of the poultry house are just as desirable as for the home. Trees serve as a windbreak in the winter and for shade in the summer. They should be tall, with no low limbs. Low shrubbery is no good as in their presence the soil becomes contaminated under the shrubbery, remains damp/ and sunlight cannot reach it to destroy the di ease germs. One thing we should remember that plenty of sun shines should be available at the site.
Floor space: The smaller the house the more square feet are required for each hen. Bigger pens have more actual usable floor space per bird than smaller pens. The recommend at as suggested might be useful regarding floor, feeders and watering space. For economic production of laying hens it is always better to keep them in small unit of 15 to 25 birds. This number can go up to a maximum limit of 250 birds. In commercial poultry farms units of 125 or so are advisable. Where there is a long house, partitioning at every 20 feet should be made to eliminate drafts, etc.
Floor space requirement per bird
(Age weeks) ( Floor space per bird cm²)
Light breedsHeavy breeds
1 0 to a700 minimum700 minimum
29 to 12950 minimum950 minimum
313 to 201900 minimum2350 minimum
421 and above2300 to 28002800 to 3700
Feeder apace requirement pet bird
Sl. No.Age (weeks)Feeder space per bird (linear cm.) Minimum I0 to 2
23 to 6
413 and above10.0
Amount of water required and watering space for chicken
Age (weeks)Water space per chickAmount of water per
in linear inches 100 birds (liters)
0-41/4 (0.6 cm) 2.8- 4
5-81 (1.2 cm) 12-14
9-124 (10 Cm) 20-25
13_165 (12.5 cm) 3540
16 and above6 (15 cm) 45.48
Ventilation: Ventilation in the poultry house is necessary to provide the birds with fresh air and to carry off moisture. Since the fowl is a small animal with a rapid metabolism its air requirements per unit of body is high in comparison with that of other animals. A hen weighing 2 kg and on full feed, produces about 52 liters of CO2 every 24 hours. Since CO2 content of expired air is about 3.5 per cent, total air breathed amounts to 0.5 liter per kg live weight per minute. A house that is a tall enough for the attendant to more around comfortably will supply far more air space than will be required by the bird’s that can be accommodated in the given floor space. Temperature: Hens need a moderate temperature of 50°F to 70°F. Birds need warmer temperature at night, when they are inactive, than during the day.
The use of insulation with straw pack or other materials, not only keeps the house. Warmer during the winter months but cooler during the summer months Cross ventilation also aids in keeping the house comfortable during hot weather. Dryness: Absolute dry conditions inside a poultry house is always ideal condition dampness causes discomfort to the birds and also gives rise to the diseases like colds, pneumonic etc. Dampness in poultry house caused by: (1) moisture rising through the floor; (2) leaky roofs or walls; (3) rain or snow entering through the windows; (4) leaky water containers; (5) exhalation of birds. Light: Daylight in the house is desirable for the comfort of the birds. They seem more contented on bright sunny days than in dark, cloudy weather. Sunlight in the poultry house is desirable not only because of the destruction of disease germs and for supplying vitamin-D but also because it brightens the house and makes the birds happy.
Birds do fairly well when kept under artificial lights. Sanitations: The worst enemies of the birds, i.e., lice, ticks, fleas and mites are abundant in poultry houses. They not only transmit diseases but also retard growth and laying capacity. The design of the house should be such which admits easy cleaning and spraying. There should be minimum cracks and crevices. Angle irons for the frame and cement asbestos or metal sheets for the roof and walls are ideal construction materials, as they permit effective disinfection of the house. When wood is to be used, every piece should be treated with coaltar, cresol, or similar strong insecticides before being fitted. Poultry housing systems:
Generally four systems of poultry housing followed among the poultry keepers. The type of housing adopted depends to a large extent on the amount of ground and the capital available.
Types of poultry housing:
1.Free – range or extensive system
2.Semi – intensive system
3.Folding unit system
b.Deep litter system
Free-range system: It is the oldest one and has been used for centuries by general farmers, where there is no shortage of land. This system allows great but not unlimited, space to the birds on land where they can find an appreciable amount of food in the form of herbage, seeds and insects. Birds are protected from predatory animals and infectious diseases including parasitic infestation. At present due to advantages of intensive methods the system is almost obsolete.
Semi-intensive system: Where the amount of free space available is limited this system is adopted, but it is necessary to allow the birds 20-30 square yards per bird of outside run. Wherever possible this space should be divided giving a run on either side of the house of 10-15 square yards per bird, thus enabling the birds to move onto fresh ground.
Folding-unit system: This system of housing is an innovation of recent years. In portable folding units birds being confined to one small run, the position is changed each day, giving them fresh ground and the birds find a considerable proportion of food from the herbage are healthier and harder. For the farmer the beneficial effects of scratching and manuring on the land are another side effect.
The most convenient folding unit to handle is that which is made for 25 hens. A floor space of 1 square foot should be allowed for each bird in the house, and 3 square feet in the run, so that a total floor space to the whole unit is 4 square feet per bird, as with the intensive system.
A suitable measurement for a folding house to take 25 birds is 5 feet wide and 20 feet long, the house being 5’ x 5’, one-third of the run. The part nearest the house is covered in and the remaining 10’ open with wire netting sides and top.
The food and water must be carried out to the birds and eggs brought back. There is some extra labour involved in the regular moving of the fold units.
Intensive System: This system is usually adopted where land is limited and expensive. In this system the birds are confined to the house entirely, with no access to land outside. This has only been made possible by admitting the direct rays of the sun on to the floor of the house so that part of the windows are removable, or either fold or slide down to permit the ultraviolet rays to reach the birds. Under the intensive system, Battery (cage system) and Deep litter methods are most common.
This is the most intensive type of poultry production and is useful to those with only a small quantity of floor space at their disposal. In the battery system each hen is confined to a cage just large enough to permit very limited movement and allow her to stand and sit comfortably. The usual floor space is 14 x 16 inches and the height, 17 inches. The floor is of standard strong galvanized wire set at a slope from back to the front, so that the eggs as they are laid, roll out of the cage to a receiving gutter. Underneath is a tray for droppings. Both food and water receptacles are outside the cage.
Many small cages can be assembled together, if necessary it may be multistoried. The whole structure should be of metal so that no parasites will be harbored and thorough disinfection can be carried out as often as required. Provided the batteries of cages are set up in a place which is well ventilated, and lighted, is not too hot and is vermin proof and that the food meets all nutritional needs, this system has proved to be
Remarkably successful in the tropical countries.
It requires a minimum expenditure of energy from the bird as they spend all time in the shade.
It lessens the load of excess body heat.
The performance of each bird can be noted and culling easily carried out.
b)Deep litter system:
In this system the poultry birds are kept in large pens up to 250 birds each, on floor covered with litters like straw, saw dust or leaves up to depth of 8-12 inches. Deep litter resembles to dry compost. In other words, we can define deep litter, as the accumulation of the material used for litter with poultry manure until it reaches a depth of 8 to 12 inches. The build-up has to be carried out correctly to give desired results, which takes very little attention.
Suitable dry organic materials like straw (needs to be cut into 2 or 3 inch lengths), saw dust, leaves, dry grasses, groundnut shells, broken up maize stalks and cobs, bark of trees in sufficient quantity to give a depth of about 6 inches in the pen should be used.
The droppings of the birds gradually combine with the materials used to build up the litter. In about 2 months, it has usually become deep litter, and by 6 months it has become built-up deep litter. At about 12 months of old stage it is fully built up. Extra litter materials can be added to maintain sufficient depth.
The deep litter pen should be started when the weather is dry, and is likely to remain so for about 2 months for the operation of the bacterial action, which alters the composition of the litters. Start new litter with each year’s pullets and continue with it for their laying period.
Advantages of Deep Litter System:
Birds and eggs are safety as enclosed in deep litter intensive pen, which has strong wire netting or expanded metal. Built-up deep litter also supplies some of the food requirements of the birds. They obtain “Animal Protein Factor” from deep litter. The level of coccidiosis and worm infestation is much lower with poultry kept on good deep litter than with birds (or chicken) in bare yards. Well managed deep litter kept in dry condition with no wet spots around waterer has a sterilizing action. With correct conditions observed with well managed litter there is no need to clean a pen out for a whole year; the only attention is the regular stirring and adding of some material as needed.
Generally 35 laying birds can produce in one year about 1 tonne of deep litter fertilizer. The level of nitrogen in fresh manure is about 1%, but on well built-up deep litter it may be around 3% nitrogen (nearly 20% protein). It also contains about 2% phosphorus and 2% potash. Its value is about 3 times that of cattle manure. It is a valuable insulating agent, the litter maintains its own constant temperature, so birds burrow into it when the air temperature is high and thereby cool themselves. Conversely, they can warm themselves in the same way when the weather is very cool.
Basic Rules for deep litter system:
Do not have too many birds in the pen – one bird for every 3 ½ to 4 and preferably 5 square feet of floor space. Provide sufficient ventilation to enable the litter to keep in correct condition. Keep the litter dry. This is probably the master work in a deep litter system. If the litter gets soaked by leaking from roofs or from water vessels, it upsets the whole process and would have to start over again. All probable precautions should be taken to maintain the litters completely dry. Stir the litter regularly. Turning the litter (just like digging in a garden) at least once weekly is very important in maintaining a correct build-up of deep litter. Styles of Poultry Houses:
Shed types: They are the simplest of poultry house and by far the most useful and practical type of house that can be used under different climatic conditions. The slope of roof needs only be slight in the plains, while in the hills where snowfall is heavy or in heavy rainfall, it ought to be sufficiently steep. The shed-roof types of houses may be either portable or stationary.
Gable type: The type is more suitable in rainfall areas. Gable type may be stationary or portable.
Combination type: Such houses have double pitch roofs in which the ridge between the two slopes is not midway from front to back. Most of the houses have the long slope to the rear.
Roofs: In India the cement-asbestos sheeting, corrugated iron and zinc sheets are commonly used as roofing material. Floors: The floor of a laying house should be free from dampness, with a smooth surface without cracks, easy to clean and disinfect, rat proof and durable. Concrete floor: A well laid concrete floor is the safest way to meet these requirements. Wire mesh floor: Wire mesh floor or preferably mesh of expanded metal is the best for portable houses. The expanded metal having ½” X ½” mesh, nailed to the bottom of the house makes excellent flooring through which all the excreta drop out ensuring best sanitary condition.
Katcha floor: The poor village farmer sometimes prefers this sort of floor due to low cost, but it is difficult to keep clean. Walls: The walls should be water-tight, wind-proof, and finished with interior surface that are easy to clean and disinfect. For the hills open type houses with necessary adaptions prove quite suitable. In plains the walls may be of expanded metal wire mesh on all the sides and the roof will be on some special iron frame. Ventilation: If built of brick, the south side of the house ought to be enclosed with half-inch mesh wire netting; on the north, east and west, high up near the roof, there should be some openings, 12’X6’, covered with the same kind of wire netting. This will afford perfect ventilation at all seasons, and the house will not be too warm in the summer or too cold in the winter.
Door: The door of the house must be on the south, and made of an angle iron frame covered with ½’ mesh wire netting. Windows: At least 1 ½ square feet openings for each 10 square feet of floor space is recommended for the plain areas of India. In the hill regions this size may be reduced to half. All openings should be covered with I” wire netting. Equal openings on opposite sides of the house or even on all four walls are desirable. Be sure to make the roof overhang at least 18′. preferably 36″ out from the wall to cut down radiation through the window opening.