Heating for Chickens: Types and Options
Whether small animal owner, hobby farmer or breeder: every animal owner cares about the well-being of his or her youngsters. Chicken keepers in particular worry about their animals during the cold fall and winter months and equip the coops with natural insulating material such as straw or hay. But is this sufficient in sub-zero temperatures? Learn more about efficient and safe methods to heat your chicken coop.
Chicken myth: How much cold can you take?
The ancestors of the domestic chicken come from the depths of tropical forests. Thus, they lack the warming down that stores heat close to the body and compensates for cold. Nevertheless, the domestic chicken feels comfortable even in cool outdoor temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. The reason is the poultry’s metabolism, which increases at cold temperatures and thus compensates for heat loss through its own “heating capacity”. However, since body size, age and weight are decisive factors for cold tolerance, it is advisable for small animal owners to inform themselves about heating options for the chicken coop.
Infrared heating or infrared lights?
The use of infrared heat is known from the rearing of young animals. There are different variants that allow adaptation to the conditions of the chicken coop.
The first form of infrared heat is the installation of infrared heating. This form of heating is available both as infrared radiators and plate-type heaters. Radiant or panel-type heaters can be mounted on ceilings or walls and require only a standard household electrical outlet for startup. Unlike a radiant heater, heat is emitted almost silently and is delivered evenly by the heater. Plate-shaped infrared heaters have the advantage that, with a maximum depth of five to ten centimeters, they take up hardly any space and are commercially available with various designs.
The second form of infrared heat is known mainly among breeders. The chicken coop is equipped with infrared heat lamps in one corner. Here it should be noted that these emit commercially available red light. In order not to disturb the sleep of chickens, pet owners should invest in specially darkened infrared bulbs. Infrared lights emit localized heat, making them ideal for small chicken coops or small chicken populations.
Handy fan heaters are most suitable for chicken coops that do not exceed 20 square feet in size. A frost monitor has a thermostat for setting the desired temperature and requires a power connection to operate. If the temperature in the chicken coop now falls below the desired target temperature, the fan heater activates and heats the room until the heat difference is restored. A possible disadvantage of this heating method is the noise level of the fan heater, to which the chickens should be accustomed slowly.
A shed heater consists of large-dimensioned warm air generators, which are operated with gas or oil. This type of barn heating is suitable for large facilities such as medium-sized breeding farms or laying barns from about 50 square meters.
Insulation and natural forms of heat storage.
Already during construction it is possible to protect the chicken coop from cool outside temperatures by insulation and to store heat for a long time. In addition, the coop must be secured against drafts or penetrating moisture. Especially in winter, sudden snowfall is a great stress for the stability of a chicken coop. Damage to the roof of the chicken coop not only allows heat to escape, but also poses a threat of predator intrusion. A sturdy, insulated chicken coop structure is therefore recommended.
Cost-effective and efficient insulation measures include thermal insulation of the coop with glass or rock wool. It should be noted here that the chickens must not be allowed to reach the insulation material to avoid injury or illness from ingesting the insulation. Completely non-hazardous methods of heat retention are possible using natural “insulation” materials. Bedding, straw or hay in large quantities provide retreat and nesting opportunities for chickens.
Stable heaters for chickens – Conclusion
Which heater is suitable for your chicken coop depends on the existing chicken population as well as the size of the coop. Already during the construction of the coop, you as the owner can take precautions to keep your animals suitable for winter. The options range from the installation of a frost monitor or infrared heating to methods of thermal insulation using construction or natural raw materials.
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