The Pros & Cons of Chicken Pens, and are They A Good Option for Your Flock?

The Pros & Cons of Chicken Pens, and are They A Good Option for Your Flock?

Chicken pens give your chickens the benefit of being out in the yard and enjoying the elements while staying safe

They provide protection from predators getting in, as well as chickens getting lost. Chicken pens also offer your chickens an additional safety net when compared to free range chickens, and chickens that are let loose in a backyard

What Exactly Is Chicken Pen And How Is It Different From A Chicken Coop?

Many people are easily confused when it comes to the difference between a chicken coop and a chicken pen. A chicken coop is a safe place that provides warmth, safety and a nest for the chickens to lay eggs. A chicken pen is a fenced in area of your yard where the chickens can get out and get some exercise while they are exploring and enjoying their freedom while still remaining safe from predators.

It's kind of like the difference between your home and your yard. You live in your home, and go out and play in the yard. By the same token, your chickens live in the coop and go out and play in the pen.

Typically, the backyard chicken pen is for providing shelter as well as food and a safe location for them to lay eggs. It keeps predators out thus protecting your chickens from harm and you can use the feces to fertilize your yard and garden by moving the pen around or simply by cleaning the pen out.

Benefits Of Chicken Pen Compared To Other Options

A chicken pen is an ideal option if you're in an area that is subject to inclement weather. If your area is subject to flash floods, gale force winds or other weather patterns, you can easily move your pen if you've designed it properly.

What Makes A Good Chicken Pen?

  • A good chicken pen will keep your chickens from harm. It will help them to stay in a specific area and it will keep them safe from predators. It will offer your chickens a place to roost, peck at the gravel or dirt and offer some free range and sunshine.
  • A good pen will be sturdy enough to withstand predators yet comfortable enough for your chickens to safely enjoy their day out of doors.

Where Can You find Supplies?

  • There are many places that you can produce supplies for your chicken coop. If you have the money and wish to buy everything brand new you can go to a farm store, feed store, home improvement store, big box store or the like.
  • If you're into recycling you may wish to go a slightly different route and find recycled wood and fencing to build your pen with. You can stop at construction sites and ask what they do with their leftover wood, many will simply give it to you. It certainly can't hurt to ask, the worse they can say is "no".

Should You Build or Buy A Chicken Pen?

There are many things that must be considered before purchasing or building a chicken pen

Before you ever begin your quest for a chicken pen you'll want to know the options and the pros and cons of building your own chicken pen or buying a ready made one

Pros & Cons In Buying A Chicken Pen 

Pros 

  • No need to procure supplies.
  • Ready made.
  • Pre assembled.
  • Choose from many styles.

Cons 

  • Your options may be limited.
  • You may need a larger pen but not be able to add to it readily.
  • Some components may be sub par in quality.
  • May be pricey.
  • May not be as easy to clean.

Portable Pens

Portable pens are ideal if you have to worry about predators as you can simply move the pen closer to your house or barn if you need to.

Designing your own pen allows you the opportunity to create it to your own specific designs and specifications allowing you the freedom to move the pen or keep it stationary.

There are some good examples of chicken pens on the Internet that you can look over if you so desire

They are reasonably priced and come in a variety of shapes and sizes or you can simply buy your own pet fencing and create your own chicken pen. From large to small you can create the ideal chicken pen for your chickens.

Pros & Cons In Building Your Own Chicken Pen

Pros 

  • By designing your own chicken pen you can make it as large or small as desired.
  • You can add to it if desired.
  • You're more in control of the overall cost of building your pen.
  • Can be designed for easier cleaning.
  • Building your own chicken pen can allow you the freedom of making it portable or stationary.

Cons 

  • You must procure supplies.
  • Some supplies may be difficult to locate.
  • Some supplies be be costly.
  • It takes more time to build your own pen.
  • You must have the proper tools to build your own pen.
  • You'll need to have a proper chicken pen design in mind.

How Big Should A Chicken Pen Be?

Your chicken pen should allow for, 2 to 5 feet squared per chicken. If you have 4 chickens you're going to want it to be at least 8 feet squared, many people prefer to go up to 5 feet squared per chicken.

It won't matter what the breed of your chickens is when considering size of the chicken pen.

It's important to recognize that the size of the chicken pen will be dependent upon how many chickens you have and its goal is to protect your chickens from predators while they are out in the yard.

In order for your chickens to be productive and healthy you're going to want them to have plenty of room for exercising.

Tips for Chicken Husbands Who Use Chicken Pens

  • Remember that you want your pen to be easy to clean out. Excessive amounts of ammonia can cause your chickens to have respiratory illnesses so be sure that you keep this in mind when you're setting up your pen.
  • Your pen should be cleaned out every month or every two months at the most. Use the feces for fertilizer (mix it in and allow it to decompose or it will actually burn your plants). If you have a movable pen you can move it when you clean it.
  • Always lock your pen up at night, chickens are easy prey for dogs, coyotes, wolves, possums, foxes and raccoons. Ensure that the latches can't be flicked open easily. Consider a barrel bolt latch or some other more complicated means of latching your coop for extra protection.
  • Consider adding hardware cloth to your pen as well. This can add an extra measure of protection keeping predators out.
  • Remember that your chicken pen is only as strong as you make it so make it a strong safe haven for your chickens.

Warnings

  • Avoid using particle board or strand board in your pen. It has harsh chemicals that can harm you chickens.
  • Check all laws and regulations if you're within the city limits. Some cities will allow you a few chickens but no roosters.

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