(Revision of Circulars 50 and 83)
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
H. G. CLAYTON, DIRECTOR
By J. S. MOORE and N. R. MEHRHOF
Extension Poultryman and Poultry Husbandman
An all-purpose portable poultry house 10 feet wide and 12
feet long has proven to be a very economical and satisfactory
unit for use as a brooder house, range house and laying house.
It was developed by the Pinebreeze Poultry Farm several years
ago, and was first adopted by commercial poultry farmers in
northeastern Florida. This house is in use on both large and
small poultry farms throughout the State. However, the trend
in recent years has been toward large permanent-type laying
houses. Even on those farms where permanent type large laying
Fig. 1.-All-purpose houses in use on Magnolia Farm.
houses are being used for housing the laying flock the portable
all-purpose house is still being used for brooding and as a rearing
house for pullets to laying age. It is near ideal for the small
farm flock, as the house is used for all three purposes-brooding,
rearing and laying.
The portable all-purpose poultry house is especially well
adapted to areas in which land values are not unduly expensive.
Many general farmers prefer this type house, as it is easily
moved and fits in well with their crop rotation program.
It is built on cypress skids and has either an aluminum or a
galvanized roof. Number 2 pine can be used for the floors and
rough lumber for the framing and walls. The even-span roof
extends two feet over the eaves and prevents rain blowing in
the sides, which are open to a depth of 28 inches for the full
length of the house. The top half of the door is of wire con-
struction, allowing for more adequate ventilation. There is also
a gable ventilator 1 x 2 feet on the rear of the house.
When used as a brooder house, insulating board is nailed along
the walls and along the slant of the rafters. Insulating board
4 feet wide fits nicely, since the sides of the house are made
4 feet for this purpose. The door and rear ventilator should
be covered with muslin, open feed sacks or some other such
fabric to conserve heat. The soft light that penetrates the
fabric is ideal for brooding. It enables the chicks to find feed
and water without encouraging cannibalism. Chicks should be
Fig. 2.-The all-purpose house being used as a laying house.
given access to a limited yard around the door by the time they
are two weeks old. As soon as the chicks learn how to get in
and out of the house they are given free range.
The rearing range should not have been used by poultry for
at least two years and should be at least 100 yards from the
hen yards to prevent contamination. It should be situated so
that water from the hen yard does not come in contact with
the ground on which the young birds run.
When properly insulated and ventilated the house makes a
good brooder unit.
Don't try to brood more chicks than the brooder will accom-
modate. Crowding results in higher mortality, slower growth
and poor feed efficiency.
Fig. 3.-Perches for portable range and laying house.
The portable "all-purpose" house will brood 250 to 300 chicks;
250 to 300 straight-run baby chicks are needed to produce
100 good pullets; 125 to 150 sexed pullet chicks will be needed
to produce 100 good pullets.
The laying capacity of this house is about 85 pullets. To
obtain this number it will be necessary to start about 250
straight-run baby chicks or about 125 sexed pullet chicks. The
250 sexed pullet chicks can be started in one house and at eight
weeks divided and placed into two houses.
When the chicks are large enough to do without heat the
stove and insulating boards are removed and stored until the
next brooding season. At this time the roosts are put in and
the house is transformed into an ideal range shelter. The door .
being off center gives sufficient room for the roost at one side.
The roosts are built in two sections of four perches each, 5 feet
9 inches long. They are nailed to 1xl0-inch boards on 12-inch
centers. The 10-inch boards are on edge, so the roosts are 10
inches from the floor. Poultry netting is tacked underneath
the roosts to aid in sanitation. They can be used for growing
stock and for laying hens. The perches being low, it is easy
to teach the chicks to roost at an early age. This prevents
crowding which leads to respiratory diseases.
As the birds come into production nests are placed outside
along the wall opposite the roost. They open to the inside and
a run board provides easy entrance for the birds. Feed hoppers
4 feet long are used because of ease in handling. One hopper
is placed inside the house and three outside. The outside hop-
pers have a cover to keep out rain. A 5-gallon double-wall
fountain placed on a frame is used for water.
During the fall and winter when lights are used on the layers
a single ordinary kerosene lantern left burning from bedtime
on through the night furnishes all the illumination required.
Muslin stretched over the openings back of the roost on the
outside and building paper on the inside back of the roost will
keep the birds comfortable in cold weather.
Two hundred fifty straight-run chicks can be brooded in this
house. The cockerels are removed and sold at 8-10 weeks of age,
and the pullets are grown to maturity and kept in the house for
their first laying year. This generally means that the chicks will
occupy this house about 18 to 20 months; five to six months of
this period for brooding and rearing and 12 to 14 months for lay-
ing. If the layers are sold at the end of the first laying year only
two houses will be required. It is the general practice to sell
layers at the end of their first laying year. If this practice is
not followed and some birds are kept over for the second laying
year, then in order to start a new brood of chicks each year it
will be necessary to have three houses.
The first, second and third houses should be built and ready
for chicks by March of each of three successive years. At this
time a complete unit will have been built so that the poultry
project can be carried on indefinitely without interruption.
Fig. 5.-Double wall fountain on wire platform, with cover, used
on range for pullets.
The building will be spread over a three-year period so that
the cost will not be very large at any one time.
A three-house unit will care for 170 layers, part hens and part
pullets, and one house will always be available for growing young
If 250 sexed pullet chicks are started each year, then four
houses will be necessary. With four houses, brooding can be
done each year and 170 pullets in their first laying year kept.
When more than one house is used they are usually placed
100 feet apart in rows 200 feet apart. The feed hoppers and
water fountain are moved to a different side of the house each
week. At the end of the fourth week when they have circled
the house, the house is moved 40 feet to a new location. These
houses may be moved with tractor, truck or a team of mules.
In this way the soil is kept reasonably free of contamination
and it is possible to maintain a good sod which supplies valuable
green feed for the birds.
One and one-half acres of land are necessary for each house.
This land should be divided into three plots of one-half acre
each to provide a three-year rotation. If 10 houses were in
use, three plots of five acres each would be necessary. Then,
in order to separate the pullets and hens the five-acre plots
would have to be sub-divided. The plots that are in use for
poultry should be planted in permanent pasture or grazing crops.
(See Extension Circular 59, Green Feed for Poultry in Florida.)
The areas that are being rested can be used for grazing cattle
or for growing field crops.
Fig. 6.-This small cart, pulled by a pony, is useful for hauling feed and
water on the poultry farm.
When a large number of houses are in use feed and water
may be hauled by a pony and cart. The cart can be built from
an old automobile chassis. In this way one man can care for
20 to 30 houses. A small tractor or truck also may be used.
The cost of this house is very reasonable. It is easily con-
structed and can be built by anyone who can use a hammer and
saw with a slight degree of skill.
This unit was born of necessity to control diseases. Its low
cost and diversity of uses has put it on many of Florida's most
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