Monday 2 November 2015

Mobile fold unit for 12 to 15 hens

Fold nits 50 years ago
Breeding poultry here is challenging. Predators are the main problem; american mink, pine marten and foxes. I don't mind trapping and killing mink or shooting foxes but pine martens are quite a different matter, they are protected by law and very attractive. So I have designed and built a high security fold unit.

Up to fifty years ago, before battery cages and dep litter housing most commercial poultry were free range or at least kept out doors many in fold units. these houses were light weight, strong and easily moved by hand, the hens had access to grass, were kept in small groups ( up to about 30), were protected from foxes and the worst weather then moved to fresh pasture each day.  Battery cages, controlled environments and labour costs rapidly got rid of this system. I am reviving it !

Ready to pick up and move
The unit is relatively light and can be moved easily when the hens are shut in the roosting compartment. Weather board cladding on a 75 mm by 50 mm frame ensures that it is strong enough not to twist and fall apart when moved. The Trolley picks up one end of the house on two stub axles, I then  press the frame down to ground level, insert a piece of wood between the house and the frame, walk to the opposite end, pick it up and move it, then reversing the procedure. It works beautifully.

There will be a feeder and water trough in the run, poultry manure will be well distributed through the slatted floor and hopefully the hens will be safe. even the nest box on the end has to have a fox proof latch.

In position
Tonight after dark, because that is when hens are quiet, almost comatose, and eay to catch they will be transferred from their old hen house.

Welding and fabrication of the frame was done by Jim Caldwell, you can find a drawing in, " Making Mobile Hen Houses", Michael Roberts  Golden cockerel press, 2004.


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