Both chickens and a polytunnel can be incredibly useful additions to your garden, but have you ever considered bringing the two together? In a shaded and secure spot, a polytunnel could be the perfect solution to housing your hens year round. However, even a regular polytunnel, generally used for growing food and other plants, can be used as a run area for chickens in the colder months. As long as foxes are not a concern where you live, keeping chickens in a polytunnel over winter can be a good thing for them and for you. If you would rather keep them in a secure coop over night, you can still let chickens have access to your polytunnel during the day.
Allowing chickens access to your polytunnel over the winter if you are not growing many crops in there has many benefits. First of all, the chickens will appreciate the protection that a polytunnel affords from the cold and wet winter weather. They may well lay better in the coldest months when kept a little warmer throughout the period.
Of course you will also see many benefits. The chickens will deposit 'fertiliser' right where it is needed in your growing areas. They will also scratch them up and keep down any weeds that may grow before spring planting. The chickens will also eat insects and rid you of many pests that may be lurking in the soil. They will help you to prepare the planting area for the next year's growing.
To keep poultry in a polytunnel year round, you will have to consider ventilation. Polytunnels will ventilated sides will stay much cooler and allow chickens to be kept at a comfortable temperature throughout the year. It is very important to make sure that any livestock kept in a polytunnel does not overheat in the summer months. You will usually require a coop structure within the polytunnel to house your hens and will still have to consider safety from foxes and other predators. When properly arranged, however, a suitable polytunnel can offer a good alternative to a more traditional run area for chickens.
For the best of both worlds, however, perhaps it is best to keep chickens in a coop near your polytunnel and allow them access to the polytunnel in cooler weather and over the winter. You could keep them contained in your polytunnel though of course you could also simply leave the polytunnel doors open when you want chickens to go in, and give them free range inside your tunnel and elsewhere in your garden – just be aware that if you give them the chance, chickens will eat an entire crop in an afternoon!
We’d like to share Richard Perkins video - It’s about polytunnels in a climate where deep snow and long dark winters are the norm, Richard is a regenerative farmer, that’s farming that actually improves the land and the environment. Not just sustainable but farming that manages and improves the land.