Cost of Building A Commercial Layer Chicken House for 20,000 Chickens & Step-by-Step Construction Method | How To Build It

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Cost of Building A Commercial Layer Chicken House for 20,000 Chickens

3D design /drawing – Commercial Layer Chicken House

Owning a chicken farm can be both an exciting and lucrative adventure. The cost of building a commercial layer chicken house depends on its design and material specifications. What is a layer house? It’s a farm building or shed where female chickens (Layers) are kept for the purpose of laying eggs. Depending on the size of the building, this chicken farm is capable of small to large-scale egg production, so you can build a house to accommodate as low as 10,000 layers, and up to 200,000 birds. The design in this post is for 20,000 layer chickens.

There are two main types of poultry houses, an automated/mechanically ventilated house, and a naturally ventilated house. The design you choose depends on many factors such as the weather/climate conditions in your region, the amount of budget (finances) you have for each of the design alternatives, the ground conditions, the availability of specific materials in your area and the amount of labour, time you want to cut or put in.

If you need to improve productivity and increase efficiency on your farm, you will have to invest in technology. An automated layer house has mechanically controlled systems for feeding, drinking, egg collection and manure removal. The ventilation is also automated, adjusting and changing accordingly with the environmental temperature, wind pressure, humidity and lighting. This commercial chicken house will save you a lot of money, especially in reducing labour costs. One man can run and manage the entire farm via the control room and occasionally inspecting the building.

Cost Estimate for Building a Chicken House for 20000 Layers

Elemental Analysis of Construction Cost

Commercial Layer House for 20,000 Chickens

1 SUBSTRUCTURE – $33,883

2 GROUND FLOOR – $128,733



5 ROOFS – $8,831

6 FLOOR FINISHES – $21,421






12 OTHER – $32,100


14 SOIL DRAINAGE – $1,523

15 FIRE SERVICE – $691


17 PRELIMINARIES – $20,623



Cost/m² – $306.97


How To Build a Layer House for 20,000 Chickens

A typical modern commercial layer chicken shed is usually built to save material costs, especially the wall envelope. So instead of having clay brickwalls or concrete-block walls spanning the floor-to-ceiling height (e.g. 3500m), you will replace them with a lightweight cladding material such as EPS, XPS, PU, PVC Foam sandwich panels. Profiled steel/aluminium cladding sheets are another type of material that can be used for walls and roof covering.

Building a portal frame steel shed is much cheaper and convenient than building a regular full brick house. A steel house has steel columns (H-sections), reinforced concrete bases and steel beams (roof rafters – I sections) as its structural frame. Z-steel sections are used for roof purlins. U-steel sections are used as wall side rails, providing a frame on which to fix side cladding. The following are elements of a steel farm building. The step-by-step construction process is depicted by pictures below:



Prepare Site:

Clear site of all vegetation, bushes, shrubs, grass etc, including grubbing up roots, stumps and removing all rubbish and debris – Area:   96,580 x 18,040mm

Topsoil excavation/scarifying 150mm deep to reduced level, levelling the site and compacting – Area:  96,580 x 18,040mm

150mm compacted hardcore, 50mm sand blinding, DPM (Vapour barrier), 150mm concrete slab, 25-30mm granolithic screed.

Dig Holes:

From reduced level, Excavate holes for RC column base foundations – 1000 x 1000 x 700mm deep.

Compact bottom of holes, then add 50mm sand blinding. If the soil is weak, add a 50mm layer of soilcrete, also known as concrete blinding or weak concrete, Grade 10Mpa or 15Mpa.

Excavations Plan – Commercial Layer Chicken House foundations

Site Excavations – Poultry Layer House

Dig Trenches:

Excavate trench for manure conveyer belt, depth 1,100mm from reduced level. The manure conveyer belt channel (pit) is located on one end of the building, running along the internal width of the house, and out into an external pit where a second conveyer belt is connected to send the waste into a truck or commercial container. The dimensions for the conveyer belt pit are shown on the drawings.

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The 3 rows of A-Type, 4 Tier chicken cages (82m long), installed in the house, have their own manure collection conveyer belt system located under the cage. Trenches or pits are not needed for this system, so no excavations will be made.

Concrete Column Bases:

Site Plan – Reinforced concrete foundation bases for layer poultry house

Size of RC concrete bases – 1000 x 1000 x 1000mm deep.

Install rough formwork to sides of excavated holes for RC bases – 1000 x 1000 x 1000mm high.

In the bottom surface of excavated holes, pour 75 mm concrete cover (Grade 30Mpa), then Lay steel reinforcement bars ( as shown in the Engineer’s Bar Bending Schedule) and pour in concrete Grade 30Mpa/19mm for RC column bases. Leave the concrete to set and cure for 21 days.

Thickened Edges for RC Slab (Floor):

Site Plan – Thickened edges for reinforced concrete pad / slab built above strip level.

Site Plan – Reinforced concrete foundation edges for raft foundation

A raft foundation will be used for this house, as well as the service/control room. A raft foundation is basically a reinforced concrete floor slab with a thickened edge.

Raft foundation dimensions:

Thickened edge:  450mm wide x 225mm deep

Floor slab:  150mm

Overall depth:  150 + 225 = 375mm


Plinth Height (Top of Foundation Wall above ground level – Reduced Level) = 300mm

Foundation excavation depth for thickened edges: 375-300 = 75mm

Excavate foundations 75mm deep. Compact bottoms and add sand blinding.

Install smooth formwork to sides for thickened edges, overall depth/height – 375mm

At the bottom of excavations, pour 75mm concrete cover (Grade 30Mpa), then Lay steel reinforcement bars ( as shown in the Engineer’s Bar Bending Schedule) and pour in concrete Grade 30Mpa/19mm for RC thickened edges. Leave the concrete to set and cure for 21 days.

Earthworks:  Filling Under Floors:

Substructure cross section details – Foundations and floor filling for portal frame chicken house.

When the concrete for Thickened Edges has cured and hardened inside the formwork, carefully remove the formwork and store it away on the site.

You now have a reinforced concrete foundation wall 375mm high and 450mm thick. This foundation wall will enclose the filling under the floors:

Compact the excavated surfaces. On compacted bottoms, add a 150mm layer of hardcore material (gravel, crushed bricks, stone etc.)

On top of hardcore material, add a 50 or 75mm layer of sand blinding. This provides an even surface to lay a concrete bed. It also protects and shields the DPM (Damp proof membrane) from damage by hardcore material.

On top of sand blinding, add a layer of DPM, also known as a moisture barrier or vapour barrier.

On top of DPM, pour in a 150mm thick concrete bed. This should include reinforcement rods / bars, laid appropriately according to the Engineer’s Bar Bending Schedule.

Reinforced concrete slab and floor for portal frame chicken shed.

Concrete floor and slab for poultry shed

Floor Finish:

The floor finish suitable for a farm chicken house will be a granolithic screed. Add a layer of 25 to 30mm screeds (1:4 cement plaster screeds steel floated on concrete).


Portal Frame:

At this stage, you have to start building the superstructure. The structural frame for this chicken shed consists of steel columns (H-sections – 152x152mm/23.4kg/m) and steel beams (I-sections – 150 x 75mm/14kg/m). A crane will be used to lift, move and place the heavy steel sections in position. The steel columns are 3,400mm high on the sides, and at least 3,400mm or higher on the front and back elevations of the house.

Steel portal frame side rails, columns and roof purlins

Steel portal frame back elevation

To complete the portal frame, steel beams (roof rafters) are erected. The steel rafters have an overall base span of 11,560mm. Each rafter has end plates and haunching welded to both ends. At least 6 holes are drilled on the end plates to allow for bolting to the H-section universal column. The other end is bolted to the apex where the rafters meet to form the ridge.

The universal column has a base plate (15mm thick) welded at the foot. Four holes are drilled on the base plate. Stiffeners (L x T x 150 x 50mm) may be welded around the column foot, 2 on each corner for extra stability. The column will then be held in vertical position and fixed to the concrete base with 4 anchor bolts (holding down bolts) embedded in the concrete. The L-shaped anchor bolts are cast in situ, meaning they are embedded at the time the concrete is poured in place. Columns will be fixed on the base only after the concrete has hardened and cured, at least 21 days or more from casting.

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Steel portal frame and Dado wall 840mm high

The next step after erecting the portal frame (columns and beams) is building a Dado brickwall. In this particular project, a combination of brickwork and profiled steel/sandwich panels will be used. About 75% of the wall envelope will be profiled cladding sheets, and 25% will be brickwalls. Build the wall, starting at plinth level or floor level. The base brickwork (Dado wall) for this poultry house will be 840mm high. The height of a Dado wall is roughly the height of a kitchen table.

Portal frame, dado wall and chicken manure conveyer belt

In this project, hollow concrete blocks of standard size 390 x 140 x 190mm high (code M150) will be used.

Wall Cladding:

The two main types of cladding material that you can use for a portal frame wall are profiled cladding sheets and sandwich panels. What you choose depends on your budget, specifications, weather conditions and the availability of such materials in your area.

Cladding sheets are thin single layers available in different materials (steel, aluminium, galvanized iron, metal alloys, PVC, fibre glass and non-metal polymers.)

Portal frame shed – wall cladding using sandwich panels

Sandwich panels have at least two layers. The most commonly used sandwich panels have two or three layers, which include the core material and the skin material. The core material is much thicker than the skin, so depending on the thickness of the core material, you can have panels ranging in thickness from 5 to 200mm. The core material is usually made in foam, honeycomb or solid structure. The skins are sheets, covering the core and providing an aesthetic architectural profile.

Various types of synthetic and non-synthetic material can be used for core material – Polycarbonate, PP, PVC, Balsa, Aluminium, Polyurethane (PU), Extruded Polystyrene (EPS) and XPS.

For this commercial poultry house project, profiled multi-clad sandwich panels are used.

Multi-Clad Sandwich Panel:

Cladding panels 870mm wide,

Rib depth – 32mm,

Flat sandwich core depth – 50mm,

Overall depth – (50+32) =82mm overall depth.

2636mm high Wall Panels.

Wall Framing – Side Rails:

In a steel building such as this portal frame chicken shed, metal side rails are fixed across the spaced columns around the building. They provide a frame on which to fix side cladding / sandwich panels. C-Section steel rails (ref: 122 C18-3.54kg/m) shall be used for this wall framing plan. Z-Section steel rails are also a commonly used alternative for wall framing.

When framing around doors and windows, vertical steel rails (mullions) will be included, along with head and bottom rails (transoms).


Portal frame house – roof covering using sandwich panels

Purlins:  Z-Section steel purlins (Ref 122 Z 18 – 3.54kg/m). Fix steel purlins at 1200mm centre to centre spacing across the I-Section rafters.

Roof Covering:  Multi-clad sandwich panels 6066x870mm wide, rib depth 32mm, flat core 50mm, overall depth 82mm.


Poultry Layer House

40mm thick hardwood double door 2000x2400mm high, with steel pull handles and dead lock.

Service Room

40mm thick hardwood flush panel door 813x2023mm high, with mortice lock and steel handle.


Electronically controlled air conditioning is required for a big modern farm chicken house. The internal gross floor area for this building excluding the service room is 90,000 x 11,560mm.

Cooling Pads:

Cooling pads for poultry house – size 2500 x 2000mm high. Back elevation

These are installed on the sides of walls. They are rectangular panels, at least 150mm thick, housing a honeycomb pad which cools down hot air as it passes through the pad. Each panel has a water distributor at the top which keeps the pad wet. The water is drained out of the pad via outlet pipes or water reservoir located at the bottom.

Cooling panel size – 2500x2000mm high, 4 on the back, and 10 on side elevations.

Evaporative cooling pads are essential in hot climates where temperatures are high. They are also needed during the summer season. Hot dry air (e.g. 40 degrees Celsius) will be reduced to about 26 degrees Celsius as it enters the building. This maintains a healthy environment for chickens.

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Cooling Fans:

Cooling fans for poultry house and manure conveyer belt – Front elevation

These are installed at the front or back of the house depending on the site location and house design. For this house plan, eight 50 inch butterfly cone fans will be installed. Cooling fans provide an exhaust for internal air. They also help to maintain a constant circulation of cool fresh air inside the building.

Air Vents:

These are small windows (600x300mm high) also known as air inlets, installed higher up the wall, about 3000mm from the floor level depending on the building height. Vents will supply the house with natural ventilation at all times. They have an opening leaf hinged at the top or bottom, which is automatically controlled by static pressure or manually operated by a winch.

Total number of windows – 25×2=50

Specialist Installations

Electrical Installation:

Will the chicken house be powered by solar panels or municipal electricity supply? This is a question that you have to answer. For a municipal connection, you will need to connect to an existing service panel installed by the local electricity board. You will also need to distribute and install electrical circuits inside the building including lighting fixtures, switches, power sockets etc.

Environmental Control Monitor:

Service room housing the environmental control monitor for the poultry house.

This monitor is installed in the service room. Feedback from sensors inside the building can be seen, routine tasks can be set, initiated or stopped. Here, the service room attendant can control and monitor all the automatic, electronic and electrical installations in the chicken house. These include:

  • Feeding line
  • Drinking line
  • Exhaust fans
  • Cooling pad
  • Air vents
  • Stockline system
  • Lighting
  • Internal temperature
  • External temperature
  • Humidity
  • Wind/air speed
  • Alarm system
  • Heating system

Automatic Feeding Line:

The equipment includes drivers (motors), feeding pipe, pan, box, auger and sensor –

Automatic Drinking Line:

The equipment includes auto doser, filter, meter, main pipe, pressure controller, water level monitor, reinforced pipe, drinking nipple and water cup –

Automatic Main Stockline:

 The equipment includes feed silo, weight sensor, location sensor, feed pipe, auger and driving equipment –

Automatic Egg Collection Line:

This system eliminates manual labour costs as well as breakage of eggs by over 99%. Eggs laid by chickens slip into a conveyer belt for transportation to the collection point.


Temperature Recorders:

This device is installed inside and outside the building to measure environmental temperature.

Humidity Sensors:

The device is installed indoors to measure air humidity.

Air Speed Sensors:

The device is used to measure air and wind speed.

Light Sensor:

This electronic system will activate and deactivate lighting based on the time of day or lighting conditions inside the house.

Cooling Pad Controller:

The device controls the cooling pads inside the house.

Cooling Fan Controller:

The device controls the cooling fans inside the house.

Air Vent Controller:

Static pressure sensor and auto controller for air inlet windows, to allow for natural ventilation.

Heating System:

Chickens should be provided with enough warmth during the cold season. A central heating system fired by coal, gas, oil or electricity should be installed. The heating system comes with an auto-control device monitored in the service room.

Alarm System:

Alarm for emergency alerts and status updates of the environment.

Chicken Cages

Three rows of A-type, 4-Tier, 5 Door chicken cages made of steel mesh wire will be installed on the floor. Each cage measures 1950x450x410mm high. A 4-tier set (8 cages) can accommodate 160 chickens.

Chicken house internal dimensions:  90,000 x 11,560mm wide.

Configuration – 3 rows per chicken house, 42 sets per row, 126 sets.

Accommodation capacity – 160 birds/set * 42 sets/row * 3 rows= 20,160 birds per house.

During the factory manufacturing process, the steel cages are treated with electrostatic spraying and epoxy resin powder coating to resist corrosion and increase their lifespan by up to 20 years.

Manure/Waste Removal System

Aerial plan showing the internal and external chicken manure conveyer belts

Cage Waste Conveyer Belt

There are two types of manure waste removal systems – using an automatic/mechanical scraper that scraps waste collected inside the pit below the cage or using an automatic manure belt conveyer fixed under the A-Type, 4-Tier cage rows. If you need the later, the conveyer belt comes attached to the cage, so you have to buy a specialized A-Type, 4-Tier cage system for this purpose.

In this system, chicken waste falls on the conveyer belt which moves the waste to a collection pit at the other end of the cage row.

Collection Pit Conveyer Belt

Internal Pit

A brickwall pit approximately 1000mm wide and 1400mm deep from floor level is built along the internal width of the house to accommodate a manure belt conveyer that collects waste from the cages, and sends it to an external pit.

External Pit

The external pit is a brickwall structure, about 2700x1800x1400mm deep. It has its own conveyer belt inclined at a slope of less than or equal to 25 degrees. This conveyer belt takes waste from the second chain to a truck or container stationed outside the house.

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