Designing a poultry house can present unique challenges over the simple chicken coop because "poultry" is a designation for several types of birds that have different space requirements. Ducks, geese, quail, and chickens are some of the fowl that are raised in a poultry house. Because the physical layout and design of a poultry house can take on many different shapes, let's take a look at the basic requirements and leave the final design up to your own imagination.

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Determine how many and what kinds of poultry you are planning on housing. This will need to be as specific as possible so you can determine the size of the house and the run as accurately as possible.

Calculate the square footage needed inside the poultry house based on the numbers you determined in step 1. Small chicken breeds and other small poultry such as quail require an average of 1 square foot per bird in the house. Larger chicken breeds and birds require an average of 2 square feet per bird. Larger fowl such as ducks and geese can require up to 6 square feet per bird in the house for each bird to be comfortable in its new nesting environment. Also consider ventilation in the interior design of the coop, with screened-off vents facing the south or east side of the house.

Calculate the square footage needed outside the house in the run. A run is an area outside of the poultry house that is enclosed but allows the poultry freedom to go outside and get fresh air and sunshine and dig around in the dirt. Just as the poultry house requires a certain square footage based on its occupants, so does the run. Small birds and breeds require 8 to 10 square feet of outdoor space per bird, while larger birds and breeds can require as much as 20 to 25 square feet of outdoor space per bird.

Use your current geographic features as much as possible when designing your poultry house. In other words, take advantage of fence lines, old sheds or other structures that might be useful when you are coming up with the design for your new feathered friends. By utilizing existing structures and features you can save on the final materials cost when finally building your poultry house.

Keep in mind other requirements, such as location of food and water supplies. Each bird will also require her own nesting box inside the poultry house, so remember to include that in your plans as well. It is a good thing to plan ahead in the design of your fowl's new home, but keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to design a poultry house as long as you provide the basics for your birds in space, ventilation and access to the good old outdoors. The sky is the limit, and the final design approval is up to you.

Decide on which materials you will use to build your poultry house. You can use outside sheds and other buildings and modify them for your purpose, or you can build a house from scratch. You can use simple materials and even recycled lumber. After all, the birds won't mind. Construct the building itself with a minimum of 2x4 lumber. You can use metal, plastic or wood siding. You can roof the house with traditional composite shingles or tin. The outside run is best caged in with chicken wire. However, you must heavily secure the area around the base against outside intruders. You can use hardware cloth to strengthen the base of the run area as well as cover any ventilation openings in the poultry house itself. Remember, it's easy to keep the birds in, but it is much more difficult to keep the predators out.