Constructing an Economical and Efficient Poultry Building


30 years of working on preservation and we finally have reached where we have all of our chickens, ducks and geese in better buildings with easier to work with facilities. When we started many breeds were disappearing rapidly and a choice had to be made between waiting for cash flow and build a suitable structure and let breeds slip away to extinction or build what I could and save breeds. I chose preservation and prevention from extinction over aesthetics. From the early 1980’s until I was finally able to start locating rare and endangered breeds in early 1989 many had slipped into extinction. That Christmas break of 1988 3 weeks after purchasing the farm I spent making calls and writing letters using all older poultry breeder directories I had access to. I had seen the SPPA critical list for years and dreamed of the day I could try and do my part. I took out my SPPA Critical list from 1977 and started looking only to discover by late 1988 many were gone and gone for good in many cases. The 1980’s was the rush for broiler chickens and sex link layers and old standard breeds and landraces and old farm type breeds that never made the standard went rapidly to extinction or close to it. I and then when Linda joined me in 1993 did what we could to try and locate what was left and preserve it. The demand was near zero so it meant constant cash outflow and none or very little inflow. I can remember being excited in the early 1990’s having gathered up a few remaining Buckeyes trying to increase and sell them and sending a box of chicks to a lady who ordered assorted heavies that we offered in our catalog and getting a huge scolding that is I could have sent her something worthwhile and she would never order again because Buckeyes were considered worthless same was said for Delawares, Barred Hollands and Chanteclers at the time and I could list many more. We had the desire to save the birds but the demand for them was next to zero and so it was spend more and more money to keep them going with the hope someday they would be appreciated again. Yes that day finally came for many of what we had gathered up but in the meantime there as no money to build better buildings. I relied on people in the area letting me tear down old barns for wood and salvaging metal for roofs wherever I could. One person believed in our cause and he worked for a professional pole building company and would gather the scraps after projects and deliver them to me. No, our buildings were never high quality and no that wasn’t our goal but had we waited there would be many breeds that would no longer be with us in this world.

Starting late in 2019 I decide to try and upgrade as quickly as possible as using 100 plus year old wood and old metal with holes ( 30 years prior) was causing a rapid breakdown of the buildings where the poultry was housed. This meant easier predator access. We started with one prototype to see how it would work and then built more. As fast as we could tear down the old ones to salvage the usable parts and reclaim the space for a new structures we progressed. The lumber shortage and price increase from Covid slowed us down but as of the writing of this we now have 11 of our planned 12 breeder buildings done with one to start this Fall and then a larger turkey and guinea building to build next year. Each building is about 16 feet by 48 feet and about 8 feet tall in the center. I am a very practical person and reused metal from the old buildings that was usable for the sides and purchased treated new lumber for the base boards and new 2 by 4’s for the rafters as well as new metal for the roof, I hate waste and trimmed and used the newer boards from the older buildings for pen dividers but did use all new wire for the pen dividers as they just don’t make poultry netting like they used to. Any of the 2 foot wide corrugated meal roofing we reused for outside pen dividers at the base because modern poultry or fence wire is so horribly made the birds are able to bust it. That extra support of the metal at bird height helps. I tired to incorporate all the ideas I had thought of over the years and all of the skills I had learned and mistakes I had made. The buildings all have 3 foot walkway down the middle to the north side of the center and so pens on the south side are 8 foot deep and either 6 foot wide or 12 foot wide and the pens on the north are 5 foot deep and either 6 foot wide or 12 foot wide. We used treated 4 by 4 for supports every 12 feet down the middle and on the sides ( 10 foot tall in the middle and 8 foot tall on the sides). This allows for an easy inside walkway and 6 feet tall for side wall height. I hate wasted space and supplies and this is the most efficient. We have a 2 foot wire window full length of each side and the buildings all run from west to east so air flows through in the summer with a south breeze and keeps the birds cooler. I cover the windows with plastic in the winter around November 1 and remove in early April. This also nearly eliminated the gnat problem (so far) as the air moved through it cooling and kept the gnats moving. In our old flat front buildings the heat would build as many faced east or west and there was no air flow through the building. When I first built them I was only thinking about winter cold and faced many to the south and then when summer came they were too hot. The lighting is all natural and I tired to locate buildings where there are shade trees near by. l will gladly send the simple plans to anyone wanting to build a building of their own. It is a simple materials list and simple plans. I am by no means a carpenter and more than willing to help share any information I can to help people avoid the mistakes that I made over the years. Our plan basically is the result of 30 years of trial and error and figure out the best place and the most cost efficient way to make poultry housing with the minimum of wasted supplies and time. I am very much into practicality over show and fluff and also being a good steward of the environment and the world we have. We will never have ( nor the desire to have) fancy modern glitzy looking facilities but we will spend the time and resources on the birds we have inside them. Preservation and education are far more important than a fancy structure.

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