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Title: Making a Poultry House
Author: Conover, Mary Roberts
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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It is the intention of the publishers to make this series of little
volumes, of which _Making a Poultry House_ is one, a complete library
of authoritative and well illustrated handbooks dealing with the
activities of the home-maker and amateur gardener. Text, pictures
and diagrams will, in each respective book, aim to make perfectly
clear the possibility of having, and the means of having, some of the
more important features of a modern country or suburban home. Among
the titles already issued or planned for early publication are the
following: _Making a Rose Garden_; _Making a Lawn_; _Making a Tennis
Court_; _Making a Fireplace_; _Making Paths and Driveways_; _Making
a Rock Garden_; _Making a Garden with Hotbed and Coldframe_; _Making
Built-in Bookcases, Shelves and Seats_; _Making a Garden to Bloom
This Year_; _Making a Water Garden_; _Making a Garden of Perennials_;
_Making the Grounds Attractive with Shrubbery_; _Making a Naturalized
Bulb Garden_; with others to be announced later.

[Illustration: It is not a difficult matter to care for a small flock,
but the old unsanitary methods of housing will have to be abandoned]






  Published May, 1912



  INTRODUCTION                         1


  FLOORS AND FOUNDATIONS              23

  THE ROOF                            28



  NESTS AND ROOSTS                    43

  THE RUN                             50

  SOME HINTS ON UPKEEP                52


    TO MODERN METHODS          _Frontispiece_





  FLOORS OF EARTH AND OF WOOD              26

    OF CONNECTED HOUSES                    30

    PIGEON LOFT                            38


  A SIMPLE FORM OF TRAP NEST               46

Making a Poultry House


To close one's eyes and dream of a home in the country with its lawns,
its gardens, its flowers, its songs of birds and drone of bees, proves
the sentimental in man, but he is not practical who cannot call into
fancy's realm the cackle of the hen.

Having conceded her a legitimate place in the scheme of the country
home, good housing is of the utmost importance, and it is in regard to
this that one easily blunders. Few would idealize a rickety hovel as a
home for the flock, but many of us, while we would not put our highly
prized birds into an airtight box, so over-house them that they weaken
instead of profiting by our care.

That the poultry house is yet in an evolutionary stage, all must admit,
but no one can deny that great strides have been made since the once
neglected barnyard fowl has come to be known as a very understandable
and responsive creature, to be dealt with on common-sense grounds.

Only that poultry house is a good shelter which in winter conserves
as much warmth as possible, and yet permits an abundance of fresh
air; that admits sunlight, and yet in summer is cool. Such a building
must offer no hospitality to other than poultry life, and it must
be constructed in line with the economic value of its residents. In
short, the structure must be so contrived as to guard against drafts,
dampness, disease, and vermin, to insure a profitable result. A maximum
of comfort with a minimum of risk insures healthy poultry.

The location of the poultry house has an important bearing upon the
style of the building. It is better to put the building where the land
will slope away from, rather than toward, it. A large and durable
poultry house was recently built and afterwards condemned by its
owners as damp. The land sloped slightly towards the building, but
sufficiently to convey all surface water towards it, making its earth
floor always damp in wet weather. If no other site can be secured, then
it is better to mount the building on posts rather than on the ordinary
foundation. If one has room enough to consider the kind of soil, sand
is best, as it dries quickly, and the runs--one can scarcely consider
the building without runs--can be kept much cleaner.

A windbreak of some kind on the cold side of the building is a decided
advantage--a wall, an evergreen hedge, a grove, or other buildings,
will protect the poultry house, and, perhaps, also a portion of the
runs, with benefit to the poultry.

In that the family flock may range in size from half a dozen to fifty
or seventy-five fowls, the size of the building, and even its style,
must vary to suit one's needs. A small coop, almost square, may house
your flock of eight or ten, but the larger flock requires a house
longer and higher, with more ample ventilation.

Ventilation by means of the canvas or burlap curtain has so simplified
the fresh-air problem that less building room is needed where
sleeping-quarters alone are considered. Hence the necessary house room
for hens depends upon the mode of ventilation.

That a large building with no direct ventilation is not so healthful
for fowls as a small house that admits the fresh air direct, was
proved in the case of a flock of fowls, during the last two winters.
The previous winter seventy-five fowls were kept in a large building
adjoining a barn. Its walls were thick, the place was very high and
roomy. Ventilation was given through a loft. The quarters were kept
clean, and all known rules of health observed. A glass door was
fitted into the doorway, thus admitting sunlight to a small part of
the floor. Not a hen was allowed to place her fair foot upon the cold
snowy ground. The birds were taken sick with catarrhal troubles early
in the winter, and were in an unpromising condition until spring. This
last winter the birds, now forty in number, were housed in a seven by
twelve building, seven feet high, with two windows in the front, each
thirty-four inches wide and twenty-one inches high, placed one foot
below the eaves, and one foot from the sides. Fresh air came through
a canvas curtain in one window; the other had a glass sash. The birds
came through the winter in fine condition. This building would have
held the original number, but in that case the burlap curtain would
have been used in the other window also.

The cooping of the young chicks must be considered as a problem
somewhat distinct until they are old enough to contend with the other
fowls for their rights.

Water-tight roofs, walls, and floors are essential to the life and
health of the birds.


While no one style of hen house can meet all the conditions for
all localities, almost any good model may be adapted to almost any
locality, or at least suggest adaptable features.

The descriptions of houses that have been adapted as here given may
easily suggest other modifications.

A house eight by seventeen feet should give ample roosting and nesting
room for a flock of thirty or forty hens. One used by the author is
seven feet wide, fifteen feet long, and ten feet high from peak to
floor, and is satisfactory during spring, summer, and fall. In winter,
however, a scratching-shed of equal area is desirable. It need not be
higher than three feet. It should adjoin the hennery, and a section of
its roof should be movable to allow a change of litter. The sunlight
should be freely admitted to this through glass.

[Illustration: The front of a house that will shelter satisfactorily a
dozen fowls]

A small coop that will house a dozen fowls, and may be used where one
has little space, or is just getting into poultry keeping, is eight
feet long and six feet deep. It has a double-pitched roof, is five and
one-half feet high from the lower edges of the roof to the foundation,
and seven from the peak to the foundation. The eaves project four
inches, but in front a board eight inches wide is hinged to the lower
edge of the eaves. This is swung back and hooked against the side of
the building on sunny days, but in rainy weather it is swung outward,
thus extending the roof eight inches to prevent the rain from beating
into the muslin-covered windows below. It is held in this position by
brackets at either end, which are hinged to the building, and may be
turned back against it when not in use.

Two windows, two feet high and three feet wide, are placed in the
front, six inches from either side, thirty-four inches from the ground,
and eight inches below the eaves. Burlap-covered frames are fitted to
the windows, and these swing inward when necessary, and may be fastened
by hooks suspended from the roof of the building.

[Illustration: The door may be at either end of the building and it
must be made draft-proof]

The building has a brick foundation and a concrete floor six inches
higher than the surrounding surface of the ground, and on a level with
the top of the foundation. At the rear are nests beneath the roosts.
These are 14 in. long, 12 in. high, and 11 in. wide. There are seven
on the bottom row placed alternately in a lengthwise and crosswise
manner, and six above. The lower nests are improvised from boxes bought
from a grocer's at five cents each, and are set upon a skeleton shelf
raised 4 in. above the floor. The upper nests are likewise set upon a
skeleton shelf 3 in. above the first tier. The sides of boxes are cut
away to 5 in. height to allow the hens room to enter the nests. These
nests are accessible to the hens from the front and are reached for egg
collection by lifting a hinged door at the back; this door is 7 ft.
long, 18 in. wide, and is 12 in. above the foundation in the rear.

The roosts are thirty-four inches above the floor, and run lengthwise
of the house. Two will accommodate the small flock of twelve or fifteen
fowls. Three inches below is the drop-board supported upon horizontal
braces. It is in two sections, and slides out when desired. It is
twenty inches wide, its outer edge being even with the first roost.

The walls are covered with sheathing paper laid inside over the studs,
and tongue-and-groove boards are nailed over this. The outside is
weather-boarded, and the roof covered with tarred paper over boards
laid closely together. A door at one end, 26 in. wide and 5 ft. 6 in.
high, gives access to the building, and a small door, 12 × 12 in.,
sliding in grooves, is placed in the front near the floor, for the use
of the fowls.

This coop may be modified to suit individual preference; for instance,
by giving it a single-pitched roof.

[Illustration: A portable colony house of simple design recommended by
J. Dryden and A. G. Lunn in a bulletin of the Oregon Experiment Station]

[Illustration: The rear of the same house, showing the extension nest
boxes with individual covers]

For the framework and inclosure these materials will be required:

  Hemlock or spruce for sills (5 × 6 in.)               38 lineal feet

  Hemlock or spruce for corner supports and plate to
    support rafters (3 × 4 in.)                         60 lineal feet

  For intermediate supports, or studs, corner braces,
    and rafters (2 × 4)                                120 lineal feet

For the roof beneath the tarred paper, 128 lineal feet of six-inch
boards will be required, or 160 feet of five-inch boards; 400 lineal
feet of five-inch weather boards will be required to inclose the

For the window and door casings 50 lineal feet of suitable lumber will
be required, and 30 lineal feet of five-inch tongue-and-groove boards
for the door.

The hinged door in the rear is made of the weather boards and covered
with tarred paper on the inside.

About 75 square feet of tarred paper will be required.

About 120 sq. ft. of boarding will be required for the inside.

Where circumstances compel one to use a damp location, the building
must be constructed so as to meet these conditions. Foundations of
concrete, brick, or stone do not meet the conditions for a dry floor
where one must use a badly-drained site. In such a case, the building
must be set on posts. Short posts, only a foot high, hardly answer,
for debris may collect thereunder, and harbor wild animals. Three feet
of space, at least, should be given underneath. Cedar posts six feet
apart, sunk into the ground to a depth of three and one-half or four
feet, a foot of concrete being first poured into the hole, will insure
a firm support.

The back and sides of this open space may be inclosed with boards, the
open front being protected with heavy, close-meshed galvanized poultry
wire, to prevent wild animals or poultry from taking refuge underneath.
In a very wet place, however, I would not inclose with boards at all.

The floor of such a building should be: First, wide, rough boards, then
rubber roofing laid over them, and secured at all joints to make it
moisture-proof, and then narrow boards, tightly fitted together. This
upper flooring should be well seasoned and well nailed down.

A house of this character, that will hold from twenty-five to
thirty-five fowls, with nesting, scratching, roosting, and sand-bath
accommodations, is eight and one-half feet deep, twelve feet long, six
feet high in back, and nine feet in front. It has the single-pitched
roof, shingled. Its walls are double-boarded, with an interlining of
sheathing paper. In the front are two windows, six feet high by three
and one-half feet wide. They are fitted with double sash, which can be
removed in summer. At night these sash are let down from the top, and a
burlap-covered frame placed over the entire window, admitting fresh air
and preventing radiation of warmer air within through the exposed glass.

For a house in a damp location the large windows provide an excellent
means of insuring dryness in winter if used to transmit sunlight during
the day, and covered at night as explained above.

[Illustration: One of the Oregon Station types in which the whole end
is of netting, covered with fabric in cold weather]

[Illustration: A colony house on skids, 7 × 12 feet, as recommended by
the Oregon Experiment Station to accommodate 30 to 40 fowls]

A building that is practically fireproof may be made of cement blocks
for foundation and walls, with a concrete floor six inches higher than
the outside ground. Wood may be used for the rafters and ceiling,
the roof being covered with metal, tile, or asbestos roofing, and the
inside ceiling plastered.

Another building which will provide seventy-five or one hundred fowls
with roosting, scratching, and nesting-room in the winter, when foul
weather makes confinement necessary, is twenty feet long, twelve feet
deep, six feet high in the rear, and ten feet high in front. It has
a brick foundation and a concrete floor that is ten inches above the
level of the ground at the front of the building, in order to bring it
well above the surface of the ground in the rear--the site is a sloping

In the front are three windows, one foot from the sides of the
building, one foot below the top, and one foot apart. They are five
feet four inches wide, three and one-half feet high, and fitted with
burlap-covered frames, which may be lifted and fastened against the
ceiling when so desired. Weather boards, sheathing paper, and narrow
boards on the inside form the walls.

[Illustration: Plan of a house to give roosting, scratching and nesting
accommodations to seventy-five or a hundred fowls]

Directly in front, and extending the length of the building, is a
glass-inclosed sun room four feet high and five feet wide. One end of
this has a door to allow for the cleaning of the floor. The concrete
floor of the main room extends into the sun room. Three openings, ten
inches wide and one foot high, connect this sun room with the main
room, and are provided with slides to be closed at night when the sun
room is no longer a warm place.

The roosts are in the rear and extend the entire length of the
building. There are three, placed four feet above the ground floor.
These roosts are removable, being set in grooves cut into the wooden
brackets which hold them. A hinged drop-board in sections is hung below
the roosts.

The nests are forty in number in two tiers, and are fixed to the front
wall of the building, below the windows. They are covered at the top,
open at the side, and have a running-board before them one foot wide.
Nests and boards are supported by stout wooden brackets about three
feet apart. Nests and perches are reached by climbing-boards at one end
of the room. The door is placed at the opposite end of the building,
and is twenty-six inches wide and six feet high. It can be made wider
if desired, as there is room.

[Illustration: Cross-section of the house for seventy-five or a hundred
fowls, showing the glazed scratching shed on the south front]

The care of the young birds is greatly lightened by houses built for
them especially. These need not be large nor elaborate, and, since
they are for use in the milder seasons of the year, do not require
great precautions against the cold.

[Illustration: The care of the young birds is greatly lightened by the
use of small houses that can be moved about]

While the slant-roofed colony coops, which can be moved about, are best
for the care of large flocks of growing poultry, the progeny of the
small family flock may be conveniently housed in one long coop divided
into compartments, with separate little pens before each division. A
coop of this kind, six feet long, thirty inches wide, and twenty-seven
inches high, will shelter seventy-five young chicks very comfortably
from babyhood to large broiler age. The floor should be made tight and
warm, and the coop mounted upon skids or runners, so that it may be
moved if desired. The top of this coop slants gently and lifts up like
a lid for inspection and cleaning, and this top is hinged to the rear
side, and covered with tarred paper.

Since young chicks will crowd and smother if the air supply is limited,
the entire front of the coop, to seven inches above the bottom,
is covered with coarse muslin or sacking during spring, and with
galvanized wire netting in the summer.

The size of the lumber necessary for any of these buildings is about
the same: Timber for sills, 5 × 6 in.; cross-beams and main supports, 4
× 3 in.; intermediate joists, supports, and rafters, 2 × 4 in.; and for
weather boards and floor boards, any convenient width.

Well-seasoned lumber should be used, and should be first-class of its
kind. Second-grade material may be used for the wood-house, but faulty
building of the poultry house may mean more in losses from drafty
floors or walls than the saving in the first outlay will warrant.


The floor of the poultry house sustains as important a relation to
the health of the fowls as any other part of the building. A cold,
drafty floor is a constant menace, inducing catarrhal affections, and a
damp floor, with its constant evaporation of unwholesome moisture, is
equally unfavorable.

The floor of the building bears a close relation to the foundation;
indeed, its character is actually determined by the kind of foundation
used. From this relation have developed three distinct styles of
flooring: the earth or cement floor with brick or stone foundations;
the board floor with a foundation; and the board floor without a
foundation, the structure being supported on posts.

Any one of these can be made a success if its peculiar requirements are
complied with.

The board floor with a foundation makes a warm floor, but it is not
durable over a perfectly tight foundation, which tends to induce
rotting from the dampness of the soil beneath. To insure against this,
openings should be left in either end of the foundation--openings about
the size of a brick's end. In a long building, such openings should
occur at intervals of ten feet.

Such places are an invitation to rats, however, and should be securely
protected by heavy, close-meshed galvanized wire, or by iron grating.

The flooring must be so tight as to prevent drafts coming up through
it. In the case of the board floor without a foundation, the building
rests upon posts, and some poultrymen leave the space beneath open so
that the air sweeps through beneath it. Others board up the windside.
Such buildings should never be boarded all the way around, however,
as rats will burrow beneath or gnaw through, giving a great deal of

Laying tin around the edges over the interlining to a width of about
six inches, letting it project under the inner wall, and meeting the
outer wall, will prevent rats from gnawing into the building.

A warm floor is secured by laying it double with an airtight
interlining of roofing paper or similar substance. (For the lower layer
of boards, hemlock answers well.) Cementing the surface of the floor
gives a clean smooth surface.

An earth floor or one of cement is cold and damp, if lower or even
level with the outside surface of the ground. It should be at least
six inches higher, and, to render it dry, a layer of stone several
inches deep should be placed in beneath the six inches of earth.

All floors must be cleaned frequently, fresh litter being placed in all
scratching rooms, and sunlight be allowed to stream in upon them.

Where an earth floor is used, fresh earth or ashes must take the place
of that cleared away each day.

Though not of secondary importance, the foundation of the poultry
house is a secondary consideration, for after one has decided upon
his location, manner of building, and the best kind of floor for his
hens under those conditions, he may come to a conclusion about the

[Illustration: An earth floor lower than the outside surface is cold
and damp]

[Illustration: The flooring must be perfectly tight to prevent drafts
coming through it]

The brick, concrete, or stone continuous foundations have such a stable
appearance that, looks alone considered, they are preferable to posts.
Where brick or concrete posts are used, however, the effect is not

On a good building site, I like the brick or concrete foundation, and
would have no other. Under such conditions, it meets the requirements
of a durable building for fowls.

The foundation of the poultry house need not be deeper than two or two
and one-half feet below the surface of the ground, according to the
climate of the locality. The object is to lay it below the freezing
point. It must be high enough to actually raise the building above the
earth and its dampness. Where the soil washes in around the foundation,
gradually covering it and partly burying the wood above, it is likely
to cause the weather boards to decay around the base.

Get a man who understands his job to do the work of foundation-laying,
else your superstructure will suffer.


The roof of the poultry house is, for the average poultryman, a problem
solved by the state of his pocketbook, climate, and the location of his
buildings, as well as personal preference.

The shape of the roof may be governed by taste, the prevailing type of
architecture, etc., but where the welfare of the fowls themselves is
jeopardized by a certain style, personal preference must yield and the
health of the birds themselves determine the choice.

Roofs that can be made watertight with the least difficulty, which do
not overhang so far as to prevent sunlight from entering the windows,
and which are sightly, are the aim of the average builder.

Considered from the point of utility alone, the single-pitched roof
seems to be the most popular. It gives the necessary watershed and
interior room for the least amount of material.

While the height of the roof from the floor should be influenced by
the other dimensions of the building, the fowls will do as well with
a low-roofed building properly cleaned and ventilated, as with one of
lofty roof, but the inconvenience of caring for the low-roofed building
must be considered, and hence few of us want a roof lower than six feet.

After one has decided the form of the roof, the next point is the

In counting the cost, one must consider the possible expense in keeping
in repair a roof cheap at the outset. Some roofs absorb the sun's
rays to such a degree as to make the building too warm. In certain
locations a fireproof roof is imperative, by law or expediency.

[Illustration: The single-pitched roof is the most economical of
material and labor, a consideration of importance in the housing of
large flocks]

Wood, metal, and the tarred paper or felt roofing have peculiar
qualifications which adapt them to individual requirements. The paper
or felt roofings appeal to a great many people, as the work of applying
the material can be done by an amateur. These roofings are laid on
over boards and secured in position by nails, the joinings being made
watertight with cement. Pliant roofings should be turned well over the
edges of the roof and fastened securely. Allowance for lapping of the
strips is made on the material, and this lap should be observed. The
cost of the cement and nails necessary to the work is included in the
price of the roofing per roll. There are several good tarred roofings
on the market at one dollar and eighty cents or one dollar and ninety
cents per roll of about one hundred square feet. When buying, it is
best to select those having a fireproof surface. Two-ply felt roofing
is more economical than the one-ply, as it makes a much more lasting
roof. After three or four years it will require repainting, and this
must be done promptly to preserve the roof. The price of the felt
roofings varies, costing from two to two and one-half dollars per

All flexible roofings must be laid over boards that are fitted closely,
else they will tend to break over the crevices.

The galvanized steel and iron roofings are the most durable of all. The
best grade of galvanized iron costs from four dollars and twenty-five
cents to five dollars per square (100 square feet), covering the cost
of laying, but as it is absolutely fireproof, lower insurance rates are
obtainable on buildings where it is used.

The galvanized roof is very warm in summer, which in some sections
proves an objection. Tarred paper also is hot.

Roofs of cedar or white pine shingles outlast the pliant roofings, and
really cost less in the end. One poultryman who has had experience with
metal, felt, paper, and shingle roofing, prefers the last, claiming
that it serves him best for least cost.

Where other buildings have just been constructed, there may be
left-over roofing material of a higher grade, which will serve to cover
the poultry house. Roofing tile and asbestos shingles make excellent
roofs, and are very sightly, but their use demands a different
treatment of the roof framing, and an experienced workman to make a
satisfactory job.


Obtain an influx of fresh air without drafts and without too great
cooling of the air, and you have solved the problem of ventilation.
To prevent an undue fall of temperature, there must be, in addition
to a fresh-air supply, a continuous heat supply, and this exists
in the fowls themselves. This we must plan to conserve. Admitting
the fabric-covered window--now so universally used--to be the best
solution of how to admit fresh air with the least loss of heat, the
accompaniment of this is perfect tightness of the windowless sides.

As far as materials are concerned, wood, brick, cement blocks, or
stone, are equally satisfactory if their requirements are understood,
and they are used to suit conditions. Some poultrymen object to brick
or stone, claiming that they are damp, yet we know that stone does
not create moisture. Of course, masonry being a better conductor of
heat than wood, moisture already in the air will condense upon stone,
concrete, etc., when it will not be evident on wood. The moisture-laden
air, which is cold and unhealthy for the fowls, must be due to a damp
floor, poor ventilation, or some such reason. The fact that a certain
concrete or stone wall is dry would prove that conditions were right,
while the wooden wall would show warning signs only in extreme dampness.

In localities where stone abounds, the entire building may be
constructed of stone, giving ample window room.

All buildings which are plastered or cemented in any part of their
construction should be allowed to dry thoroughly before the flock moves

As an important aid to uniformity of temperature in winter, the wall
space filled with confined air is important. The cement blocks and
hollow building tile provide for this to a certain extent. A double
board wall may give this result if carefully constructed. By placing
sheathing paper under the weather boards, and also under the ceiling
boards, a very satisfactory wall is possible.

A warm wall is made by combining brick and boards--using weather boards
outside, brick within, and plaster, or ceiling boards, on the inner

A single board wall can be made comfortable as winter quarters by
covering the outside with roofing paper and having it painted black.
These black-painted hen houses and coops are too warm in summer,

The inside walls of the hen house should be smooth enough to be kept
clean. A good wood-filler in the crevices prevents lice and mites from
lodging there, but if, when whitewashing the walls, care is taken to
work the lime into the crevices with the brush, and this work is done
often enough, say four times a year, such pests would be kept down.

Make it a rule to have the windows on the light, sunny side of the
building, facing south or southeast, but have none on the other three

Windows really ought to be of such a size and position that the
sunlight can reach every part of the floor space during some part of
the day. Though we all believe in the benefit of sunlight, we do not
always realize how important a part it plays in the care of poultry.
When we consider that vermin and disease thrive in its absence, and
that remedial measures are more or less troublesome and expensive, we
will work into our building schemes every possible inlet for sunlight.

The windows should occupy a large part of the front wall
area--one-third of it, at least, and be evenly distributed over the
upper part of the surface. _Movable_ window sash or curtain frames are

The position of the ventilating arrangement depends upon the position
of the fowls at night. It is a strange fact that human beings, animals,
and poultry can better stand a current of air coming directly toward
the front of the head than from the rear or sides; hence I would place
the roosts so that the fowls face the window and get the fresh air on a
level with the nostrils rather than from above or below. Thus they are
fortified against a drop in temperature. For example, where the roosts
are to be two feet above the floor, I would have the windows about
twenty inches from the floor, provided the roof is correspondingly low.
With the roosts three or four feet above the floor, the window should
be from thirty-two to forty-four inches above the floor, etc. I think
it is safe to have the windows not higher than eight or twelve inches
below the eaves, and six inches from the sides of the building.

[Illustration: When pigeons as well as chickens are kept the shelters
for both may be economically combined]

Despite the fact that some poultrymen have discarded glass, I cannot
rule it out altogether. It certainly has its uses on cold wintry days
when the heat of the sun's rays is wanted without the chill wintry air.
I believe these glass windows should be covered at night, and that
the fabric curtain is therefore the most sensible mode of night
ventilation. Burlap, sacking, or coarse muslin may be used to cover the
window frames. Burlap is the most substantial. In tacking it to the
frame, tacks with tin discs beneath the head (like those with roofing
nails) may be used, or a thin light strip of wood may bind the burlap
to the frame, and through it the tacks are driven.

Wherever glass is used, some protection of poultry wire is necessary to
prevent its being broken.


It aids in ridding the house of dust if, when the fowls are out, a
searching breeze can blow through occasionally. For this reason, end
doors are a great advantage, but they must be draft-proof.

The good points of an otherwise well-built poultry house may be set at
naught by carelessly made doors, which fit loosely in their casings.

Doors which open on the cold or exposed side of a building require
more precautions against drafts than those on the sunny side. The door
should be of tightly fitted boards, and covered on the inner side with
tarred roofing paper, or thin, narrow boards.

The following hints are for a door that is practically draft-proof: For
the door itself use tongue-and-groove boards, an inch thick, reinforced
six inches from the top and bottom by cross-pieces six inches wide, and
beneath the latch by a rectangle of the same wood. Over this is tacked
sheathing paper, fitting it about the cross-pieces. The inner side is
finished with narrow tongue-and-groove ceiling boards. (These may be
placed over the battens or between them.) In case they are to be placed
over the battens, the open space between the two board surfaces is
closed with a narrow wooden strip.

The door casing is five inches thick, the sill board six inches wide,
and slanting to one inch lower on the outside than on the inside. On
the sides and across the upper part of the door casing are nailed
inch-thick strips which, with the edge of the casing against which
the door shuts, gives a two-inch edge which effectually excludes air
currents. Against the lower edge of the door is a heavy strip of felt,
reinforced with leather where it is tacked to the door.


When we have come to the interior fittings of the poultry house, we are
about ready for the flock to move in, and may consult the peculiarities
of our chosen breed to some extent.

In the matter of nests, heavier breeds of fowls need them of easier
access than do the lighter breeds. The latter class seem to enjoy an
ascent to their nests, and it is as well to favor them.

The nests may be around the sides of the building, beneath the roosts
and drop-board, or in any convenient place, and there should be as many
as there is room for. Nests that are scattered about and possess some
distinctive characteristics seem to make a greater appeal to some
fowls. Nests in tiers of three or in blocks of three seem to be readily
identified by the hens if the different sets of nests are differently
placed, but a row of half a dozen nests exactly alike is confusing to
the average hen.

When space is at a premium, the nests should stand beneath the roosts,
protected by a wooden drop-board--smooth to be vermin-proof and
removable to be sanitary. A hinged board serves to darken the nest
and at the same time can be held up by a hook when so desired. For
cleanliness the nest should be made of wood and treated with some
vermin preventive which should be washed well into all crevices. If
the nest is raised four or five inches from the floor and built with a
porous bottom, it is more easily kept dry. The compartments should be
separated to prevent interference between layers. Each of these should
be, as a rule, 16 × 12 × 14 inches, although I am now using nests 13-1/2
in. long by 10-1/2 in. wide and 12 in. high. In order to be lifted for
cleaning some light material must be used. A convenient arrangement is
a long, narrow box, fitting the available space, divided by partitions
into individual nests. Wire netting makes a very good bottom for this
type of nest. I like either this or the slat bottom, through which the
dust and worn nest material sift and the air circulates. Of course,
such a nest should be supported on brackets or suspended so that the
air can penetrate its parts. Grocer's boxes may be converted into good
nests by removing the bottom and tacking smooth slats across, with one
and one-half inches of space between each. Inch-meshed poultry wire
may be used if one is going to use the wire netting. A coat of paint
gives a more sanitary surface, but if this is not practicable, the wood
should be planed as smooth as possible and whitewashed.

Concealment is usually favorable to the use of the nests, and if the
apartment is light and sunny, a board screen may be used to secure
this, or the nest entrance may be turned away from the light. I am
using curtains of sacking with marked increase of popularity among my
fowls. Nests which were persistently shunned are now constantly used
since thus darkened. The sacking may be hung from a wooden strip placed
in front of the nests. It gets dusty, but if one is provided with two
or three such curtains, the soiled ones may be hung outdoors in the
wind and rain for cleansing.

[Illustration: Alfalfa in the run under netting, through which the hens
may pick]

[Illustration: Even with the small flock the trap nest should be
used--there is no use feeding non-producers]

The trap nest is as useful to the small poultryman as to the man who
runs a large poultry plant. It is so arranged that each laying hen
and her product may be identified. A trap nest may be improvised from
a box of suitable size. Cut out entrance and exit in opposite sides,
and in each suspend a door so that it will swing at a pressure of the
fowl's head. The entrance door swings inward only--the exit door swings
outward. After the egg is laid, the hen passes through the exit into a
small inclosure, from which she is liberated after her achievement has
been recorded.

Where rational methods are used in nest construction, it is hardly
necessary to use nest-eggs to secure the fowl's patronage of the nests.
Where they are used, however, those of dull finish are preferable to
the smooth glass ones.

Hens want a roost that they can clasp with their toes. It should be
broad enough to support the bird's weight upon the ball of the foot
and thin enough to allow the toes to curl under. This act is a reflex
one and as much a part of their slumber as scratching is a part of
their waking activities. This power of clasping the perch seems to
belong to birds in vigorous conditions. Ailing birds that cannot roost
seldom have enough vitality to recover.

Roosts two and one-quarter inches wide and not more than an inch
thick, with slightly rounded edges favoring the curl of the toes, are
satisfactory. They may be arranged horizontally, or slightly inclined,
ladder fashion. Light poles cut from young saplings make suitable
roosts, if scraped clean of bark and shaved to flatten them slightly on
the upper side. Horizontal roosts may be placed about one foot apart,
and not more than three lying parallel, or the fowls roosting on the
rear perch do not get enough air. I prefer them slightly inclined,
ladder fashion, at an angle of nearly thirty degrees, the lowest perch
not lower than three feet from the floor, and not more than three
perches parallel. Where the fabric curtain is used, all get the benefit
of the fresh air coming through the canvas curtain.


The runs are essentially a part of the problem of housing. Fowls need
plenty of exercise, yet they are entirely too meddlesome to be given
full liberty where one has a garden, a good lawn, and flowers. While
hens may be kept in buildings and, with proper care, still retain
their health, the average owner of a small flock can keep the birds
more economically if he gives them the natural advantages of outdoor

The most useful run is the divided pen, each section to be used

For the active-laying breeds, three runs, about ten by forty feet, to
be used alternately by the flock of forty hens, are advisable. Where
two are used the dimensions should be greater--say ten by sixty.

A yard inclosure for large birds requires two-inch meshed poultry wire,
five and one-half or six feet in width, supported by posts set nine
or ten feet apart. The wire is attached to the posts by staples about
four inches apart. A wooden strip or any other finish along the top of
the fence is an objection. The lower edge of the wire requires a board
or strip to which it is tacked. Boards six inches wide may be used for


The poultry house, no matter how carefully built, is not a fit place
for poultry, if it is neglected. Cobwebs draped across the corners
hold dust and disease germs. Neglected perches become mite-infested
and are thereafter a menace to the health of the poultry. Grooves and
crevices in walls harbor mites, lice, and disease. Burlap curtains that
become dusty do not readily admit pure air, or else convey a cloud
of dust directly back to the fowls. Floors that are covered with an
accumulation of dirt become damp and cold, aside from the danger of

Window panes that are cloudy with dirt do not admit sunlight properly.

The proper care of the poultry house means work, and the place seems
hopelessly unlovely when the task has been ignored from day to day, and
one's sins of omission are seen in the aggregate. The proper way to
perform such work is daily, when but a few minutes will serve to keep
the building sanitary.

The litter of straw should be changed frequently, say, every third
day--the floor swept and fresh litter spread upon it.

The droppings should be removed daily. A little fine dry sand acts as
an absorbent if sprinkled over the cleaned surface.

Walls should be swept down once a week, giving attention to corners,
under and behind nests, perches, etc. For this purpose a splint broom,
such as is used around stables, is most useful.

For thorough cleansing after all loose dirt has been swept away nothing
is superior to whitewashing. It makes the room lighter, sweetens the
air, and is a "cold shoulder" to all vermin. A sprinkling of dilute
carbolic acid is a safeguard against disease. Perches are best cleaned
by washing with some liquid insecticide, and then allowing them to
dry in the sun. A good wash is made by dissolving half a cake of any
laundry soap in ten quarts of water and adding five tablespoonfuls of
kerosene oil.

Transcriber's note:

Italics is represented with underscore _, small caps with ALL CAPS and
underlining with tilde ~. Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were
retained and illustrations moved to paragraph breaks.

The following corrections have been made:

p. 11 are 14 in. long., -> removed period after long

p. 11 to 5-in. height -> removed hyphen after 5

Everything else has been retained as printed.

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