Poultry sheds for raising chickens provide shelter from weather and predators. They can be tailored to the amount of birds owned, the space available, and any storage needs. For raising birds at home, poultry sheds can be built from plans and purchased in wood or plastic, or an existing shed in the garden may be converted into a chicken coop. Large-scale poultry operations often have modern buildings with automated equipment and climate control.
Chicken arks, or chicken tractors, are poultry sheds that have wire sides for ventilation and a covered roosting area in the back or on top. They are open at the bottom so the birds can have access to the grass, and can be moved daily to a fresh spot when the ground gets dirty. These sheds are good for small flocks and for chicks that have come out of a brooder but aren’t big enough to run free on their own yet. Arks can be built easily at home from untreated lumber and a roll of chicken wire.
Fixed poultry sheds stay in one place, and may have a wire run attached to them. Inside are nesting boxes that can be accessed from the outside to facilitate egg gathering. They are often constructed on posts to keep them off the ground, protecting the chickens from any predators and keeping the floor in good shape. The fixed sheds are heavy, so their placement needs to be thought out in advance.
Existing outbuildings can be retrofitted into poultry sheds with the addition of nesting boxes, a roost area, and a window opening for ventilation and light. Larger sheds have the advantage of allowing keepers to enter for cleaning and egg retrieval. The chickens will naturally seek a roost at dusk, and the door can be shut against predators. Poultry heaters can be incorporated into the sheds to keep the birds warm in cold weather. If the outbuilding is fairly good-sized, part of it can be walled off for storing feed.
Large poultry farms that raise chickens and turkeys commercially use big poultry sheds that hold hundreds of birds. The sheds have heaters and a ventilation system that pulls fresh outside air in, not only to keep the birds healthy but also to combat dampness. Water and electricity will usually be piped into the sheds. Automated feeding and cleaning equipment eliminate a great deal of labor and make caring for the birds more efficient.
Homeowners may purchase ready-made poultry sheds and chicken coops. Equipment for taking care of chickens, as well as grain and supplements, is available at farm stores and co-ops. Raising chickens at home is becoming a popular hobby, especially now that many urban areas have lifted bans on keeping a few hens in the backyard.