While it had fallen into disuse at the end of the 70s, the henhouse is experiencing a resurgence of interest to the point that the hen has become a domestic animal like any other. However, like any animal adoption plan, adopting a hen is thoughtful. Here are the 4 things to know to properly mature your project.
1- Which hen can you adopt?
The hens are divided into four categories which designate the area where they excel: laying hens, broody hens, broilers and ornamental hens. Brooding hens are of particular interest to breeders. Regarding the other three categories, you will choose according to your project.
Laying hens lay between 150 and 250 eggs per year. This is therefore less than one egg per day (but we will see later that it is advisable to have at least two hens), in particular because under “normal” conditions, that is to say outside of overstimulation of breeding, a hen does not lay all year round.
Regarding egg consumption and the health risks it represents because of its high cholesterol content, studies do not all point in the same direction. Let’s say that, as with any food consumption, excess is harmful. You should not therefore abuse the good eggs of your hens… Do not hesitate to distribute some around you: it will undoubtedly be very appreciated!
Not everyone has the desire to kill, pluck and prepare a hen to eat. It is true that from the age of 3, a hen hardly lays eggs any more. But is that a reason not to let her go to the end of her life? Everyone is of course free to make their choice. In case you want to eat your hens, it is therefore useful to choose a breed from the category of broilers, so that the consumption of your hens is a delight (provided they are not too old).
Finally, there is the category of ornamental hens. We distinguish ornamental hens dwarfs large. They are all characterized by the beauty of their plumage and the softness of their character, enjoying the company of children. Some breeds turn out to be good layers, which makes it possible to combine beauty and egg production. And if you wish, these hens also open the possibility of participating in competitions.
2- How many hens can we adopt?
You should not adopt a hen alone! They are very sociable animals and need the company of at least one other hen. So if you want to adopt a hen, you must adopt one at least two to ensure their well-being.
Conversely, you may be wondering if there is a maximum number? Know that you have room because the maximum number of hens allowed per household is 50 individuals older than 30 days. Beyond that, in particular, you change to the status of professional breeder and you must declare your activity and comply with specific health rules framed by legislation.
If you want your chickens to supply your household with eggs, 2-3 chickens are usually sufficient for a family of 2 adults and 2 children. If you want to accommodate more hens, it’s the area of land you have that will limit your project. The surface varies only marginally depending on whether the hen is dwarf or large. Count 10 square meters per hen outdoors.
But if you do not want their scratching to completely destroy the space to which they have access, you must double this surface to assess the total area you need to have, and this to allow you to regularly move the course of your hens. Indeed, with a sufficiently large field, the previously used space can become green again while the hens occupy another space. To this exterior space, we must add the more modest surface of the henhouse itself (see the next point).
Finally, think about the maintenance time. The more chickens you have, the more this time will increase since you will have more surface to treat. You will need to regularly clean feeders, drinkers and perches, remove droppings, provide clean food and fresh water. During the colder seasons, it will be necessary to arrange the space so that the hens are sufficiently warm and to regulate the humidity within the shelter.
3- What type of shelter do chickens need?
The henhouse is essential because hens instinctively need shelter at night. During the day, they only frequent it to lay eggs or, if there are no other accessible covered places, to shelter from the rain and snow.
The area required for a chicken coop may be modest for a limited number of hens. Count 1 square meter per hen if you aspire to the well-being of your animals. In the event that the henhouse exceeds 5 square meters, while remaining below 20 square meters, it may be necessary to make a prior declaration of work: check with your town hall.
To reduce costs, and if you are a handyman, it is quite possible to build the space yourself which will house your chickens. The wood is the most practical material and, moreover, good insulator, very important point. In regions with harsh winters, plan thick planks of at least 2 cm. The concrete block is also possible.
Regarding the height, the first perch is 30 cm from the ground with enough space above so that the hen can stand on it without being hampered. You need at least one or two more levels above. But you must also think of yourself: indeed, you must be able to enter it easily and have enough space of movement for the cleaning and the renewal of the litter. Your chickens will never have too much space anyway …
4- Adopting a hen is the possibility of doing a good deed
It is possible to collect laying hens from breeders. In fact, each year, hens aged between 12 and 18 months are sent to the slaughterhouse (the expression used is that of “spent hens”). Even if a healthy hen can live another 7 to 9 years and continues to lay between 90 and 120 eggs per year (compared to 300 previously), it is no longer profitable enough for a breeder, considering the price of the egg. .
The good price to offer a breeder is around 7 euros. But since you need to buy at least two of them, given their need for sociability, you will therefore have to pay around 14 euros for this good deed. If you find it difficult to contact a breeder directly, there are associations that act as intermediaries.