A chicken farmer is often asked why farmers raise chickens inside poultry houses. While most people envision chickens living outside and foraging for food on rolling hills and sunny pastures, the reality is that about 99% of chickens are raised indoors. There are three main reasons why farmers raise chickens inside: protection from extreme weather, predators, and disease.
All of this protection helps to ensure that the chicken flock is safe, healthy and comfortable – because at the end of the day, a chicken farmer’s priority is the welfare of their chickens!
1. Protection From The Weather
Chickens can live comfortably both outside and inside! But one of the major reasons that farmers keep chickens inside is to protect them from the weather. Chickens would have a very hard time foraging for food outside during the winter. It would also be very difficult for chickens to stay cool and hydrated when it’s over 50 degrees in the summer.
Chickens especially need to be kept warm when they are babies because they can’t regulate their own body temperature. When baby chicks arrive at the farm, the thermostat is set to a tropical 32 degrees. But as chicks grow bigger and feather out, they put off more heat and need to be cooled. By using ventilation systems and advanced climate control inside the barns, we can control the temperature inside to keep the birds comfortable and healthy all year long.
Not all poultry houses have the same ventilation systems. Some chicken houses are outfitted with controllers (computers that read the thermostats).
Another reason to raise chickens inside is to protect them from predators. Chickens are an easy animal to prey on – they don’t have strong defense mechanisms, they don’t have great camouflage and…they’re tasty. Predatory animals like hawks, eagles would be happy to snack on a chicken left unattended outside.
Having an enclosed shelter also gives chickens a strong sense of security. It has even been shown that when chickens are given the choice to be free-range outside of the barn, they actually choose not to. Oftentimes, the chickens never leave the security of the chicken house.
3. Protection From Disease
While farm animals don’t get the same diseases that we get, there are still plenty of things that can make them sick. Disease prevention, also known as biosecurity, is another reason why to raise chickens inside.
Avian flu is one of the most widely known diseases that can affect chickens, but there are other diseases that chickens are susceptible to, such as infectious bronchitis and Newcastle disease. Keeping chickens in chicken houses with limited access to other animals (including humans) helps prevent chickens from getting sick and also reduces the spread of disease to other flocks.
Whether farmers raise chickens inside or outside, the health and welfare of the chicken flock is their number one priority. Farmers invest a lot of time, pride, energy, and resources into their chickens. They depend on their flock to provide for their family, and they do everything in their power to ensure their flock is safe and healthy.