Plastic hen houses have been around for a number of years now, and the debate about their suitability rumbles on, however, there’s a steadily growing number of chicken owners who have opted to switch away from wooden structures in favour of a modern, often brightly-coloured alternative. Cost-wise, a decent plastic house will be comparable to a top-end wooden alternative but when you factor in the lack of maintenance needed, plus its 20+-year lifespan, it would seem to be an obvious choice.
Most plastic houses available now are made from recycled materials, providing hygienic and maintenance-free structures which either come as a complete unit, like Omlet’s Eglu, or need some degree of assembly, such as with Nestera houses, although this is usually very quick and easy to do. One benefit of this assembly design, is that replacement parts can be bought in single panels should something go wrong, rather than requiring the replacement of an entire house.
Until recently the design of plastic houses has been a bit ‘arty’, which may put some people off, although this is now being addressed by some companies, which offer the more traditional shape of a wooden house, but made of plastic. There is continued growth in the plastic sector, and as more keepers are converted to this convenient and long-term option, its likely that the balance will begin to swing more in favour of this practical, and typically eco-friendly, housing solution.
One criticism of plastic as a housing material has been a potential problem with condensation, but with adequate ventilation this is no more of an issue than the water-retaining properties of a traditional wooden floor. As always, the only sure-fire solution to a damp atmosphere inside a house, is good husbandry and making sure that stocking densities are appropriate to the size of the unit. Replacing bedding regularly will ensure that there’s no build-up of harmful ammonia and that birds aren’t put at risk of respiratory infections.
Plastic houses, being non-absorbent, are easy to wash – both inside and out – and dry as rapidly as ambient conditions allow. Mostly they can be swiftly and easily dismantled into their component parts, which allows a thorough cleanse, removing any mites that may be present. Generally though, these houses with their smooth interiors are much less mite-friendly than traditional wooden houses built from tongue and groove boarding. Joints tend to be either very few in number, or spaced such that they don’t offer an attractive hiding place for these troublesome pests.
A Nestera house is architectural as well as practical. Plenty of ventilation, simple to assemble and easy to clean.