Raising pullets to adulthood and the laying stage is an interesting project for adults and children alike. Chickens require an inside roost area in their pen with laying boxes to escape the outdoor elements. An outdoor section allows hens room to exercise and have fresh air. Building a pen with both areas in the correct sizes for your types of pullets allows good growth, and eventually, fresh eggs daily.
When raising pullet hens, you need enough space for them to move around adequately in their pen for good health. Allow 2 square feet per bird inside the enclosed portion of the pen. Build a run allowing for 10 square feet per hen in the exterior portion of the pen for exercise room. These figures are based on your pullets becoming large chickens and will enable you to build one pen without adding to it in the future. Small breed chickens, such as bantams, require 1 square foot per bird inside and 4 square feet outside. Average size laying hens need 1 1/2 square feet inside and about 8 feet each outdoors in the run.
The inside portion of a chicken pen is where the pullets will reside at night time and have an enclosed area for laying eggs as they grow older. The enclosed area needs a solid roof to protect young birds from rain, wind and dew. The outdoor section of a chicken run may be open on the top if there is little threat of airborne predators in your area. However, if hawks or owls are a threat, cover the outdoor run with either chicken wire or bird netting to prevent them from reducing the size of your flock.
The enclosed pen should have one to three walls that are of solid construction for protection from the elements and predators, and night. Most enclosed areas have wooden walls. The outdoor section of a pullet pen should have strong chicken wire to support the sides. The openings in the chicken wire allow good airflow for healthy growth of pullets. If digging pests are prevalent in your area, bury an additional 6 inches of wire extending outward from the bottom of the fence. When critters try to dig under the sides, they will encounter metal and stop digging to get in your pen.
Hang feeders and water holders from the rafters inside the enclosed portion of a pullet pen. Extend them down on light-duty chains to hang at the approximate height of your young hens' shoulders. If feeders and water holders are lower than this level, chickens will walk in them, spill the contents and make messes on the floor of the pen. This leads to damp conditions for the pullets to walk in and can cause illness.
Supply your pullets with nesting boxes for them to sleep in and for laying eggs, as they get older. Place a fresh supply of hay in the boxes weekly after cleaning out the old hay. Hay insulates the boxes to keep chickens warm in the cooler months and provides a sense of security.
Make one walk through door into the interior section of the pullet pen. This allows you easy access to fill the feeders and water holders, collect eggs and clean the interior section of the pen. A second door from the interior to the exterior of the pen is helpful if you close the pullets in the interior at night. Some young hens will lay eggs on the ground in the outside area of the pen. The second door allows you access to all areas of the pen to collect eggs on the ground and tend to ailing birds.
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