Monday, December 30, 2013

#5 How to Heat the Zen House Without Burning up the Chickens

Okay, well in my last post I was trying to decide how to give the Zen House girls a little extra heat so they don't get frostbite in the really really really cold weather (ok, not the -40 I have been reading about from other chicken owners).  It's the single digits and below that has me concerned.  All the girls have a single comb which makes them more susceptible to frostbite.  I did not know this.  So ... because the Zen House apparently does not have quite as much ventilation as it maybe should have, hence, some frostbite areas seen on the tips of combs, we decided to supply some supplemental heat.  That in and of itself brings up a whole lot of controversy.  I really don't want roasted chicken over an open flame in the coop.  I looked at and bought a flat panel radiant heater thinking that would do the trick.  Here is what I got:

We plugged it in to see how hot it got; there is no thermostat.  After about 15 minutes it was very warm to the touch; I could not keep my hand on it.  Hmm, that doesn't sound like a good idea.  The coop is fairly small.  I think it would get too warm and what if a chicken got squished up against it??  So, back to the drawing board.

John went out the next day to the local farm store and brought home a little outdoorsy looking space heater.  It's electric, but with a fine mesh over the heating elements, a thermostat and a way to hang it.  We put it up last night.  It's the perfect size.  The fan noise is very soft and the thermostat is marvelous.  We set it at its lowest temp and by golly, I can keep the coop at a very reasonable 32 degrees.  Not so warm as to shock them going outside, but warm enough to keep them safe.  Here is what it looks like:

We can keep it far enough away from the chickens that they don't get blasted, but it's enough to take the frigid out.  Tonight it's suppose to drop into the teens, but I won't turn it on; I know the coop will stay much warmer than that and it will be fine.

We plan on doing regular maintenance on it to keep the dust out; that would be another problem with fire hazards.  I'll let you all know how this all turns out.  So far I am very hopeful.

Namaste and Aho!

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