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Why choose a plastic chicken house?

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For many years the choice of chicken house was limited to wood, but now there is a range of plastic chicken houses on the market. The first were made by Eglu and they came in funky primary colours with a distinctive shape. They were designed to appeal to the first time chicken owner who wanted to keep a few chickens in the garden. Now there are more to choose from, including those made by Green Frog Designs.

What are the advantages of a plastic house?

1. They are maintenance free. There is no need to treat with a poultry-safe wood preservative or replace rotten timbers. Plastic lasts  for many years and requires no annual treatment.

2. Plastic houses are easy to clean.  A simple hose down does the job, and any stubborn mud and droppings can be removed with a stiff brush. They dry in minutes too. This can be a great advantage in winter, compared with a wooden house that can take several hours to dry out. 

3. If you are raising batches of birds, for example meat birds, biosecurity is important as you do not want to transfer disease from one batch to the next. It is difficult to ensure that a wooden house has been completely disinfected, but a plastic house can be washed down, treated with disinfectant and be ready for the next batch.

4. Plastic houses are less likely to suffer from the dreaded red mite. The red mite is an ectoparasite that sucks the blood of a chicken. They hide in crevices in the chicken house during the day and emerge at night to take a blood meal from the roosting chickens. When infestations are bad, chickens may refuse to go in at night.  Red mites reduce egg production and can kill the birds. Although there are crevices on plastic houses, there are usually fewer than on a similar-sized wooden house. If red mites appear, the houses can  be power hosed and the red mites washed away. Its not so easy with a wooden house. Also mites hide under roofing felt where they are impossible to reach. Keeping a wooden house red mite free can be a costly exercise, as the various treatments such as diatom and poultry shield are not cheap and they need to be used monthly all year round.

5. Good ventilation is important for poultry. Plastic houses usually create more condensation than a wooden house which is not good for the birds' health, so plenty of ventilation is essential.  Fortunately the design of most plastic houses takes this into account and they come with permanent and adjustable ventilation holes.

6. Many people worry that plastic housing will not be warm enough in winter and get too hot in summer, but in fact the opposite is true. Thick plastic sheets have a high U number so they are good insulators in winter,  while in summer they are as cool as a wooden house. With any house, wood or plastic, it is important to provide shade for the birds if they are restricted to a run.

7. The cost of buying a plastic house and a comparable quality wooden house is much the same. However, the life time costs of a plastic house work out to be lower than that of a wooden house, if the costs of wood preservative and the various red mite agents are taken into account. Also if looked after, a plastic house may last as long if not longer, than a quality wooden house.

8. Environmental credentials is another consideration. Some of the plastic houses are made from recycled materials making them very environmentally friendly. Not only is the material made from plastic waste, but the offcuts from the production process are recycled too, minimizing manufacturing waste. Wood is a renewable material, but not all timber is harvested sustainably. Many of the quality wooden houses made in the UK are constructed using wood which meets the FSC standards, but the same cannot be said of most of the cheaper chicken houses which are usually  imported from China where there is considerable deforestation.

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