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Environment for chickens kept as pets

Housing

  • Warm, dry and well-ventilated.
  • The house and everything inside should be cleaned frequently and disinfected to remove parasites.
  • Food and water should be provided in the house.


Flooring

  • Covered with dry material (e.g. wood shavings or straw), to allow foraging and dustbathing (particularly important when it’s wet outside). This must be topped-up or replaced when needed.


Space

  • Enough for chickens to exercise, stretch their wings and carry out normal behaviours.
  • As a guide, roughly 12 square metres should be enough for 30 birds. Although this depends on the size and numbers of chickens and layout of facilities.


Perches

  • Should be around 3 to 5 centimetres wide with rounded edges and height should suit the size of the birds.
  • Should provide enough space for all chickens to comfortably roost at the same time (from 15 centimetres per chicken), and enough space between perches to let them get up and down without injury.


Nest boxes

  • Egg laying hens need quiet, enclosed nest boxes. 
  • Should be draught-free and lined with clean, dry, comfortable nesting material (e.g. straw or wood shavings).


Entrance to the house/outdoor area

  • Should allow chickens to pass through easily without having to crouch. 
  • More than one entrance helps avoid bullying and encourages use of the outdoor area.


Outdoor area

  • Keep grass short. Long strands can become trapped in the chickens’ digestive system.


Size

  • Large enough to allow wet, muddy or barren areas to be sectioned off to recover and to minimise the risk of disease, while still allowing enough space for chickens to roam on good pasture.


Enrichment outdoors

  • Provide overhead cover, such as small trees or purpose-built shelters, to give protection from the sun, bad weather and wild animals, and encourage exploration.
  • Chickens should have access to dry soil where they can dustbathe and forage.


Food and water outdoors

  • Feed or water provided outside should be sheltered to keep it clean and dry. Avoid attracting rodents and wild birds.


Fencing

  • Fences should be well maintained and provide protection against wild animals. 
  • Ensure that the birds cannot escape or become trapped/injured.