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Fresh-Air Poultry Houses
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Fresh-Air Poultry Houses

The Classic Guide to Open-Front Chicken Coops for Healthier Poultry

by Prince T. Woods, M.D.

Norton Creek Press. October 2008, 190 pages,
Suggested retail price, $16.95. ISBN 0972177061.

Your Chickens Will Love Their New Fresh-Air Coop!

Today's chicken coops can be beautifully constructed and maintained, and still be dank, dark, and smelly through lack of ventilation. To stay healthy, you must give your chickens plenty of ventilation — more than they're getting today.

Chickens, like miners' canaries, are hyper-sensitive to poor air quality. They have a high metabolism and sensitive longs, and dust, ammonia, and poor air quality are much harder on birds than other livestock.

If it smells worse inside your coop than outside, your chickens are suffering! Fresh-air coops are surprisingly odor-free. This pleasant environment increases your satisfaction as it protects your chickens.

Dampness is another problem of closed houses. Wet litter is the perfect breeding ground for diseases and parasites, and makes it hard for your chickens to stay clean. Fresh-air houses are drier than ordinary houses, and that keeps your chickens clean and healthy. They're happier. You're happier.

open-front chicken coop
An open-front coop during a Canadian winter. Note the snow on the ground.

Darkness forces chickens, like parrots, to be artificially inactive. They won't eat or drink properly if they can't see. Fresh-air houses solve this problem with a large screened window area that brightens the whole coop, even on winter days. A large window makes the coop cheerful.

Healthy chickens, a bright, airy, dry, clean, odor-free coop — These are compelling benefits, and you'll get these and more when you read Fresh-Air Poultry Houses!

Instant Results. Closed chicken houses are so harmful that knocking out a wall and replacing it with chicken wire gives an immediate improvement, even in the middle of winter After all, chickens have a thick coat of feathers to keep them warm, but have no such resistance to poor air quality and pathogens in the litter. Nor will they willingly eat in the dark. If it's too dark, your chickens will starve in the midst of plenty.

And in summer! Poor air circulation and a thick coat of feathers are hard on the chickens. It can easily kill them. Chickens are far more vulnerable to heat than cold.

These principles were discovered over a hundred years ago, and are still followed by commercial chicken producers worldwide. Unfortunately for the chickens, they have been forgotten by backyarders and hobbyists.

Take action now. Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, by noted poultry expert Dr. Prince T. Woods, shows you how to keep your flock heathier and happier. Dr. Woods describes his own poultry houses and those of others, giving the book a breadth of experience that makes it unique. This 1924 book is old-fashioned (and a little eccentric), and is a wonderful resource. This information is available nowhere else. Dr. Woods' chicken coop plans in the book are still practical today, and many are quite attractive. He even has portable chicken coop plans and plans for broody coops. He also describes how you can retrofit existing houses to fresh-air principles, by creating larger openings or even knocking by out a whole wall and replacing it with chicken wire!

This book is a bargain. At today's prices, a good hen will lay at least $50 worth of eggs during her lifetime (figuring at least 20 dozen at $2.50 per dozen). Fresh-Air Poultry Houses will earn its keep three times over if it saves the life of just one hen! And you can see how you'll get these savings not once, but year after year. And money is only a secondary benefit. The main benefit is that greater enjoyment of your happier, healthier flock. Buy now so you can get started right away!

The Fresh-Air Revolution

Dr. Woods' principles achieved total dominance during his lifetime and for decades thereafter. Open-front poultry houses were not only the dominant type on farms, they were the only type until the industry started using gigantic fans to provide even more ventilation.

The principles of open-front housing were taken to remarkable extremes in some parts of the country. In California, chicken houses were so open that they didn't have walls at all — just a roof! These gave excellent results. This method was used as far north as Oregon in the Fifties. The improved air quality made up for the increased wind chill, and the Oregon fresh-air hens were healthier in the winter than traditionally housed hens.

While the large producers have embraced the benefits of fresh air, small-flock owners gradually reverted to under-ventilated chicken coops. Thouhg mistaken, this is understandable. The need to keep baby chicks warm trains all of us to obsess over adding warmth and excluding drafts, and it's hard to do the opposite when the chicks become older. Even during the heydey of open-front housing, there was a saying that "the best chicks come out of the sorriest houses," meaning that even experienced farmers had trouble providing enough ventilation, and that a drafty, dilapidated house prevented them from harming their chicks by shutting the house up too tightly.

How do you avoid backsliding? You need to buy this book and read it at least once a year. Every reading will teach you something new.

We're proud to be able to help you bring your flock to a greater pitch of health and activity by reprinting this excellent book.

Is This Stuff For Real?

Is the fresh-air concept for real? Does it work? Read the sample chapter. It'll convince you. And you will become even more convinced after you read the book and put its ideas into practice.

Still Not Convinced? Sign Up for My Free Newsletter While You Decide to Buy

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A Note on the Plans

Dr. Woods gives detailed drawing and many relevant construction details, but he does not include bills of materials or the dimensions of every piece of lumber in the chicken house. You will have no trouble if you have some experience with rough carpentry, but you may need to learn a little about basic construction if you have never built a shed before. But the issue is not whether the book gives you every detail, it's that it give you a level of understanding that will let you work the details out on your own. This is where Fresh-Air Poultry Houses excels.

How to Buy Fresh-Air Poultry Houses

You can buy your copy online or order it from your local bookstore.

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Norton Creek Classics

Fresh-Air Poultry Houses is a good example of the Norton Creek Press motto: "Most of the best books are out of print and forgotten, but we can fix that!"

Don't forget to read Norton Creek Press' other poultry books.

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