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April 2, 2012

Chook Dome | Backyard Chicken House Designs

A chook dome is a great way to design and build a backyard chicken hutch. They can be made from inexpensive materials and provide a transportable way to move chickens around your backyard to enrich the ground for growing vegetables or plants.

Electrical conduit is popular for making the dome shape due to its lightweight, flexible and durable nature. Chicken wire is a popular choice for covering the dome to protect your chickens and keep them in. Don’t forget to add some shade and nesting boxes for your chickens to keep them healthy and happy.

chook dome large

Chook Dome Design Basics

chook domeThe common design characteristic of chicken domes is the circular base. This can be made by stretching electrical conduit around in a circle + joining the male end into the female end + gluing with PVC glue. If you would like a larger dome base then join a couple of bits of conduit together and bend into a circle shape. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least 1 square metre in the chook dome per chicken.

Once you have a sturdy base circle you can add a few conduit pipes bent from one side to the other with perhaps another supporting circle part half way up the dome. Once you have the frame secured you can cover it with chicken mesh. Remember to use a piece of tarp or a covering to make part of the dome waterproof so your chickens can shelter from the rain. You will also need a sleeping quarters for your chickens, this should be a perch about 1 metre off the ground.

Depending on how complicated you want to get you could make yourself a geodesic chook dome. A geodesic chook dome is a slightly more complicated design but can look great and will be a sturdy home for your chicken for a lifetime.

What Chooks should I get?

chicken runningChickens are intelligent beings that enjoy stretching their wings and exploring. Free range chickens will bring great benefit to your garden and provide you with tasty eggs for a relatively small amount of effort on your behalf.

You’ve built your chicken house now you need some chickens. You can buy some chicks and raise them but beware that you may get some roosters. Be sure the chicks you are getting will be actual laying chickens or you might find yourself offside fairly quickly with your neighbours if you raise a group of roosters…

Scan the local newspaper livestock sections to find an advert from a local farmer or poultry breeder to find a couple of good layers. Good layers are generally cross bred chickens. Cross bred chickens can lay eggs for a longer period of the year and many cross bred chickens are bred so they don’t go ‘broody’ and sit on the eggs they lay without laying any more. The most common cross bred chickens in Australia are the White Cross (White leghorn/New Hampshire – white egg), Black Cross (Australorp/New Hampshire – dark brown egg) and the Red Cross (Rhode Island Red/New Hampshire – light brown egg). The Burkes Backyard website has a great factsheet on cross bred chickens.

polish chickenYou might want to think about rescuing a battery hen. There are roughly 10.5 million battery hens in Australia that exist in an area the size of an a4 sheet of paper. Battery hens are generally sold or disposed of after 1 year. Battery hens may find their new found freedom a little alien to start off with but can turn out to be great layers – and you’re also giving them a life they have never experienced.

You may want to restrict their area when you first get a battery hen by locking them in a chicken coop for a few days so they don’t freak out on all the space. Also at night they might want a hand perching on a roost as they would not have done this before. Also if the chicken has been de-beaked they may have difficulty picking up food from the ground – so just keep a food container full. They may also have a tendency to lay eggs where they stand – instead of grouped together in a certain area.

As your battery hen gets accustomed to freedom you will notice their personality start to come through as they adapt to their new life. Contact your local battery chicken farm to find out how to purchase an ex battery hen.

The Benefits of a Backyard Chicken house.

Keeping your own chickens means you’ve got tasty fresh eggs on tap, they will fertilise and rejuvenate the ground in your garden, dispose of vegetable scraps and provide hours of entertainment for you and your family as you watch them pick through your backyard. A good chicken house or chook dome will set you up for a lifetime of keeping chickens.
For further information on all things chook related in Australia you might want to checkout the Australian Poultry Forum website.

Chook Dome Chicken House examples

Here are a few photos of chicken dome examples to get you thinking about how to design yours.

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