Open-Sided Poultry Houses for the Tropics

Open-sided poultry houses are suitable for tropical climates where the weather is hot. It is also cheaper to construct than poultry houses in cold climate regions where the sides have to be closed and insulated. The main aim of poultry housing is to protect them from the rain, sun, draft and predators. You should always think about these while constructing poultry houses. Poultry house should not be expensive. However, durability, comfort and safety should not be sacrificed at the expense of cost.

Things to consider while selecting a location for your farm:

  1. Don’t site your farm in a place that is prone to flooding. Ask people living around your proposed area whether the land flood during the rainy season.
  2. Nearness to the market is also important. Consider the transportation cost of buying feed, drugs, vaccines and selling your products.
  3. To prevent airborne diseases, site the farm as far away as possible from other farms.
  4. Having access to basic amenities like clean water, electricity, roads will help reduce your overall cost. You can sink your own borehole if there is no water in the area. If the water table is high, sinking a borehole will be less costly. Constant availability of water is very important. Lack of water can drive layers out from lay for weeks and hinder growth in meat birds. Water quality should be tested in a lab for its microbial and mineral contents (see table below).
  5. Don’t site a poultry farm in a densely populated area to avoid complaints and possible lawsuits.
  6. Consider expansion plans. The land should be large enough to accommodate future expansion. This will save you cost of relocating to a new place when you want to expand.

open-sided poultry house

  1. The width of the house should not exceed 8 metres when only natural ventilation is used (i.e. when no fans are installed). Exceeding this will prevent proper airflow which will lead to heat stress. The length depends on the number of chickens and the available building space. However it is better to have separate poultry houses so that when disease affects one section, you won’t have to treat the whole flock.
  2. The height of the house from floor to roof should not be less than 2 metres anywhere to ensure better air quality and easy accessible without stooping.
  3. The floor should be made of concrete to make it easy to clean and disinfect. It also prevent ants from attacking the chickens through the floor. Alternatively, sharp sand up to 50cm depth may be used. But wire netting should be placed under and around such floor to keep rats and other predators out. The floor should be free from cracks, moisture-proof, rat proof and durable.
  4. The open sides should be covered with boards, tarpaulins or mats that can easily be rolled up during hot weather and rolled down during cold weather.
  5. In hot climates, the long axis of the house should run from east to west and the sides should face north-south. This will prevent sunlight from entering the house.
  6. The roof can be made from corrugated metal, tin, flattened oil drums, thatch or tiles. Thatch roofs will make the house cooler in hot weather. But it should be replaced if infected by tick or when it get old (after 3 years). Tile roof will last much longer than the rest, but due to its heavy weight, the supporting frame for the roof must be stronger and thus more expensive.

The roof may be ridged or slope to one side. If the roof is ridged, this ridge should be open to permit heat to escape. This type of roof is better than the one that slope to one side because it improves ventilation. If you’re using tin or flattened oil drums for the roof, ensure that you paint them white to reflect 70% of the sun’s heat. If not, the inside temperature will be very high.

An overhang (see image above) of about 0.9m will help prevent rain and direct sunlight from entering the house. You may or may not install a ceiling because of the expense.

  1. The dwarf walls should be about 30cm high to ensure maximum ventilation. They can be made from blocks, wood or zinc.
  2. In hot climates, at least 3 sides (the area between the dwarf wall and the roof) should be open in order to have enough fresh air (ventilation) for the chickens. Better still, all sides should be open. Cover the open areas with wire netting.
  3. Large poultry houses should have an entrance room where workers can change footwear and clothing and wash their hands before attending to the birds. Disinfection takes place here.
  4. Place a foot dip in front of the entrance door so that workers can dip their feet into a disinfectant solution before entering the pen. A good disinfectant to use is phenol.
  5. Feed store should have enough capacity for 1-2 weeks of feed. It must be dry and water-proof to avoid feed spoilage. Spoil feed can cause serious health problem if fed to birds.
  6. Perches: Chickens prefer to roost at night on perches. You can provide perches for layers but not for broilers because of leg problems. Perch space should be about 15-20cm per bird. Dropping boards can be used under perches to collect night droppings. Birds deposit over half of there droppings at night, so having dropping boards will help keep the house clean. The manure can then easily be collected, dried and stored in feed sacks. The manure can be used as fertilizer or as feed for ruminants. The area under the perch is an ideal spot for nesting boxes.
  7. To avoid spread of diseases and poor ventilation, you should observe a minimum distance between 2 pens. For houses for birds of the same ages, the minimum distance should be 18m. Houses for young birds should be at least 45-100m from houses of adult birds. Also practiced strict biosecurity measures.


Works Cited

  1. Aviagen Limited. Download Ross_Broiler_Manual_09.pdf. [Online] Nov. 2002.
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