Shelter for Chickens

As well as having a dry, draft free house to sleep in, chickens require a certain amount of shelter from the elements. Bushes, a hedge or wall can be used if birds free range to get out of the sun, wind or rain but if this sort of cover is not available, you should consider erecting some sort of shelter that allows them to get out of the elements.

Raising a chicken house onto legs about 18 inches off the floor and covering one side in the direction of the prevailing wind is a good idea as this provides them with shelter for the daytime. If you have a covered run, you can put corrugated plastic sheets on the roof which take the strength out of the sun and shelter your chickens from the rain.

Remember to put water containers in shaded positions during the hottest summer months so that water doesn’t over heat. Chickens cool down by drinking water as well as panting. You can read more about that on my page covering Water For Chickens.


  1. Hi I have enjoyed your site but would like to know is it possible to keep a chicken coop and run on Tarmac and then cover this with wood shavings.

    • It would be better with Wood Chippings that are deep enough to scratch in. Wood shavings will blow around.

  2. We have recently got 5 hens and all going well so far. We built a chicken house for them and they have a large run as well. Our major problem is that they have eaten all the grass and with the continuing bad weather and constant rain, the run is so wet and pure muck. Is this bad for the hens feet being in wet muck during the day.

    We plan to try and move the run and then reseed the existing one, but will wait til the ground dries up abit. So they are restricted with what they can free range eat with no grass so what do you suggest. Should we pick grass for them or substitute their diet with other things.

    • Yes, mud is bad news. Poultry Worms thrive in mud and the chickens will not like it.

      Any small area will soon turn to mud, so what people do is board the bottom of the run and then clear the mud / level the floor and add 6 inches of hardwood chippings (not bark as this holds mould spores). The hens will be happy scratching around for corn etc and when it gets really messy, you can replace it. Don’t forget to board off a small covered box / area for a dust bath too.

      Yes, they need a constant supply of greens. This can be winter greens or a cabbage from the shops hanging, to weeds from the garden for them to pick through – whatever you can supply really. Hanging some greens a little higher than they can reach will give them excercise jumping to reach them.

  3. i have 4 pekin bantams. having learnt a very expensive lesson about buying a ‘pretty’ house on the internet i have now invested in a proper house bought locally. i intend to to build a 6′ x 12′ enclosure. however, the site is very exposed especially to the north, east and west winds. we are also on the side of a mountain in near Bradford, West Yorkshire and are prone to snow. i plan to board the sides of the enclosure won the north and east sides and the house will go there.
    will they be warm enough or is there anything else i can do to keep them warm in the winter months?

    • Most chicken breeds can tolerate the cold well (people keep them in -20 and below in Canada). The main thing is (as you are doing) to provide them with shelter from the wind and rain and provide them with shade in the summer. Water should also be in the shade as chickens cannot tolerate high temperatures as well and use water to cool down (they drink and expell more in hot weather). They also pant – but cannot sweat.

      A 3 sided shelter sounds beneficial in your location.

  4. Hi i have 2 chickens and are living fine, just wondered will they be fine living there lives with a run attached to a rabbit hutch? they seem fine in it but an expert opinion will be great!

  5. Hanging some greens a little higher than they can reach will give them excercise jumping to reach them.

    ooooow i love this tip, ill do this in future thankyou

  6. This is my first year of keeping hens. My girls originally started off by roosting in the coop overnight however during the summer they took to roosting on a perch high in thier secure run and still wont go into the coop at night. I have no red mite as I thought this may have been stopping them. I have now placed some plastic sheets around the sides (the roof is already covered) to try and give them extra shelter and also give them a handful of mixed corn each late afternoon to keep them warm. Do you think they will be OK outside at night or should I start to physically lift them in every evening? They seem well and happy Many thanks!

    • It is probably higher than the coop? Once they are in a habbit, they will continue with it.

      I’ve had hens that I have moved down the other end of the field and at night, they fly up and out of the run, and the next run, and so on until they reach their coop to roost at the end! I have to physically carry them back and after a couple of nights, they are happy in their ‘new’ home.

      • Yes, the perch is high in the enclosed walk in run. The run has a covered roof too and they are well protected I was just concerned about the colder weather coming! I may spend the next few days trying to re-train them back into the coop!

  7. Hi my partner has just returned home from work with 4 light sussex hens who were apparently going to meet a nasty end if he didnt take them. I am an ex veterinary nurse so know a fair bit about health of chickens etc… however have never kept them. They have come with a coop and run which is in very good condition, but I would like them to be able to roam in our garden eventually. They have not had their wings clipped and I would like to keep it that way if possible. How high would you recommend our fence should be? and how long should we keep them in their run before letting them out into the garden? They seem very tame and surprisingly settled seeing as they have only been here for a few hours. Any advice would be greatly recieved, I want to make sure they have the best possible life they can with us as it seems their previous owners were very naive and have not given them the best start in life.
    Thanks in advanced
    Lorna xxxx

    • They should be fine to come out of their run straight away, providing they can’t get too far and that you cakes an eye on them at first. You will probably have to put them into their house for the first few nights but after that they should learn where to go at dusk.

      The fence height really depends on the strain of Light Sussex. Some are huge and can’t get more than a couple of feet off the ground but other utility types can fly reasonably well. I think you’ll need to suck it and see to be honest.

  8. A small hen (a bantum I think) has taken up residence in the gardens of myself and my neighbours. we do not know where she came from but she is pretty tame. I have started feeding her corn and she appears during the day but disappears off to roost somewhere at night. We have large gardens with lots of bushes and trees, and she can fly pretty well, so I was not too concerned for her safety, but now we have several inches of snow. I have put together a sort of insulated mini-hen house with straw bedding, and left the greenhouse open in the hope that she will seek shelter if she needs it, but is there anything else I should do? Should I leave her be, or should I or try to grab her and put her in my (heated) greenhouse overnight?

    • If she has food and she is finding her own shelter, she’s probably doing quite well. As long as she is roosting out of reach of foxes…

  9. Having a spare shed connected to the chicken house and uncovered run I thought that in the bad weather i.e. snow rain and ice I would give them access to the spare shed. I thought I would cover the concrete floor with PEAT as I did years ago in my previous allotment. I can no longer buy PEAT locally and am looking for an alternative to cover the floor and allow the hens some scratching space, any suggestions? Alan.

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