Directorate Communication


Reasons for keeping hens


  • It is best to keep the hens in a cage.
  • This means that

the hens can be kept in a small space
the hens are kept in a cleaner environment
the eggs are not easily broken
the eggs stay clean
the eggs can easily be collected
the hens get fewer diseases
less chance of the hens being stolen
they need very little care.

  • You can buy a cage or make your own.
  • It is much cheaper to make the cage yourself.
  • Be sure to make the cage strong enough for the weight of 12 hens.
  • The size of the cage for 12 laying hens must be: 1,2 metres long by
    0,7 metres wide by 0,45 metres high.
  • You can build it from: galvanised weld mesh, cane, bamboo or wattle sticks.
  • The floor of the cage must be made of wire (weld mesh) so that the hens' droppings will fall through—this ensures that the floor on which they stand stays clean.
  • Fit a feed trough to the cage. It must be as long as the cage. Plastic or metal gutters can be used as feed troughs.
  • Plastic cooldrink bottles with drinking nipples are used as drinkers. (The drinking nipples can be obtained from Medunsa.)
  • The cage should not stand on the ground to ensure that the manure falls through. Put the cage on poles, bricks,or old tyres or fasten it to the wall of the house, hut or shed.



Feed for the hens


For further information contact:
Department of Veterinary Production and Ethology, University of Pretoria
Tel (012) 529 8450


The Resource Centre Tel (012) 319 7141 or 319 7085

This publication is also available on the website of the National Department of Agriculture at:


Compiled by Directorate Communication, National Department of Agriculture

Printed and published by the National Department of Agriculture
and obtainable from Resource Centre, Directorate Communication
Private Bag X144, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa