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. 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.
3. 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.
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.
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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.