Charles Awuor shows a Poultry house at the ME' Farm in Nyando. [Phillip Orwa, Standard]

Commercial chicken farming requires a high level of expertise, understanding, and commitment to be successful. Whilst it’s important to always emphasize the need for excellent flock stockmanship, something that comes with experience and aptitude, adopting the correct housing techniques and equipment will set a firm foundation for success.


The ideal house should provide the birds with a comfortable environment and protect them from the extremities of the prevailing weather (rain, wind, sunshine, etc). The house should provide adequate space for the flock to be kept in the house. To help you understand the size of the units, you need to know the stocking density of the type of birds you intend to rear.

The ideal stocking density is two square feet per bird for layers and one square foot per bird (1 square foot/bird) for broilers.

In the tropics, the ideal house should be open-sided to allow natural ventilation and have an east-west orientation to minimize the amount of sunlight entering the house directly.

It is important that the house be rectangular and have walls not higher than three feet on the longer side. The wall can be made from, stones, iron sheets, timber, silver board, or bricks. The rest of the side of the wall should have a chicken wire mesh. The roof of the house should have a reflecting surface and be pitched with overlaps (see diagram) all these factors aid in ensuring that the house is comfortable and well-ventilated. 

Environmentally controlled poultry House. [David Mwitari, Standard]

Cemented floors are the best finishing as they are easier to clean. There should be a footbath at the entrance of the house for those entering the house to disinfect their footwear. To reduce the risk of rodents gaining entrance into the flock house, clear all the vegetation in an area 3-5 meters around the flock house. The feed store should also be separate from the house. The flock house should be constructed in isolated areas to minimize the risk of contamination. The flock house should be fenced to exclude stray animals and visitors. The doors should always be lockable. The wire mesh on the sides of the house should be of a small gauge to prevent wild birds, dogs, and rodents.

In poultry farms, an all-in all-out system is the best management practice as it prevents the buildup of disease-causing organisms and disease outbreaks. In case where farmers want to keep flocks of different ages, then each flock MUST be housed in its unit.


This can be described as the circulation of fresh air through the flock house and the exhaustion of stale air out of the flock units. This is achieved by the air passing from one side of the house and exhausting through the opposite side. Ventilation of poultry houses serves several functions including:

Removing excess heat and moisture and providing oxygen while removing harmful gases and reducing dust hence improving the air quality. 

Sample of an ideal poultry house.

In the tropics, where houses are open-sided, ventilation is managed by opening the curtains from the top when it gets warm. This lets air from outside into the house. When it gets cold the curtains are raised and closed to restrict the flow of air. You must always allow minimum ventilation to avoid chicks getting suffocated.

Curtains are normally made from clean and disinfected feed sacks stitched together. The curtain should be fastened to the sidewall at the bottom and opened from the top. This will minimise wind or drafts blowing directly on the birds. To ensure effective ventilation, every effort should be made to open the curtain on both sides of the building to the same level unless the wind is consistent from one side of the flock house then the curtain on the side should be opened less than the other side.

Houses should be constructed to take advantage of the prevailing winds to improve the efficiency of natural ventilation. Narrow houses (10 metres/33 feet or less) with higher-pitched roofs provide more natural air movement. An east-west orientation of the flock house on its long axis reduces the solar heat level in the house.

For more information contact Dr Watson Messo Odwako