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Kids and chooks make great friends

Tanks, but no tanks

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While it may be cute, an upcycled water tank doesn’t make a very good hen house, writes JESSAMY MILLER.

Upcycling is a great way to re-use old pieces of farm machinery, but it needs to be done properly.

In response to queries about the viability of recycling tanks into chook pens in our last facebook share, here are some factors you would need to consider for Australian conditions.

  • Ventilation is crucial. Like every chook pen, a tank henhouse would need a section of wire mesh at the front or the back to allow airflow. Additional ventilation would be required around the tank so using a large drill bit to create a row of air holes around the top to enable the release of hot air would be a sensible idea.
  • The tank would need to be located in a shady spot such as under a tree.
  • A tank would best be utilised as a night shed for free-ranging fowls or connected to a generous run as the floor area is not sufficient for fowls to live in exclusively.
  • Closed nesting boxes would not be advised in a tank set up as the temperature inside them can become very high in summer and laying is hot work. A well ventilated nest is vital.
  • Any areas of the tank that are rusty should have a protective coating because chook manure in contact with rust would quickly corrode the tank. Manure build-up on floor should be discouraged too as it would speedily rust out the tank – this means access to the sub floor to clean the tank out should be made part of the design.
  • The tank could be painted white to reflect sunlight and reduce radiant heat.
  • The corrugations and wooden parts of the tank henhouse would need to be regularly checked for red mites, which live in cracks and crevices and prey on poultry.
  • Chooks are well set up for the cold and should be warm enough in a tank pen in winter. In frosty areas, keep perches low so rooster’s combs don’t suffer frostbite.

For more ideas on DIY chook houses check out the July/August issue of Organic Gardener magazine for a feature on setting up your backyard chook run (including info and pics of the Patch from Scratch poultry palace), or pick up a copy of Organic Gardener Essential Guides Backyard Chickens I & II, our soon to be released Organic Gardener Happy Hens book or The Contented Chook by ABC Books, for some inspirational  examples of home-made chicken coops.