If you own chickens, whether they are for laying eggs for breakfast or whether you have prize-winning show chickens, a debate you will have with yourself is whether to heat the coop in winter or not.
For those that love their birds like family, the thought of fitting underfloor heating into the coop is a step and an investment worth making.
For those that see all animals and birds as hardy, this sounds like a ridiculous idea because, after all, ‘they don’t have underfloor heating in the wild’. Maybe not, but they do have other ways of staying warm in the wild that may not be available to them in a domestic set up.
As with many other questions, there is no right and wrong answer about whether introducing underfloor heating into a coop is a good idea or not. For those who take in ex-battery hens with few or no feathers, heating may be the perfect solution but there are times when it may be a step too far.
Heat in a coop – not a good idea?
Some chicken experts will tell you that heat in a coop is not needed as chickens, in spite of us feeling differently, are incredibly hardy birds, more than capable of standing the harshest of conditions and temperatures.
Providing they have a place to perch out of the wind, most chickens are more than capable of withstand British winters without a problem. At night time, a chicken will puff its feathers and can look quite comical but this process creates an air gap between the skin and feathers, thus they create their own insulation system of a night time.
They will also protect their feet and legs in this way too and by tucking their head under a wing, they will be just fine.
Having said that, even the most hardened on chicken-keeper will tell you the importance of insulating the coop well and keeping a flock of chickens. As well as safety in numbers, they will all huddle together, with their body heat providing important warmth too.
Heat in a coop – why it is a great idea!
There are many reasons why underfloor heating is a great idea in a chicken coop;
Like humans, chickens prioritise their body’s functions with circulating blood to all parts of the body topping the list. This ensures they can breathe properly and is generally, life-critical. Last on the list is making eggs.
Frankly, if it is too cold the chicken will focus on maintaining blood flow, with your daily egg for breakfast being far from its mind, leaving you sadly disappointed.
Cold weather can and does cause drastic decrease in egg production which is why many of the larger egg producing farms will have some kind of heating system in their barns.
#2 Freezing water can mean lost condition
As we are all developing a keen interest in animal welfare and where our food comes from, it is no surprise that some of the practises used by food producers are considered abhorrent.
Removing feed and water sends a chicken’s body into chaos, causing a feather moult, loss of condition and a long road to recovery.
No one with backyard chickens wants to cause any unpleasantness to their mini-flock at all but frozen water can send the birds into disarray. This causes feather moult which although not intentional on your part, would be better to avoid for the chicken and for you.
You can, of course, invest in a heated chicken waterer but underfloor heating in a chicken coop would make more sense in many ways. No water means they go off their feed, which means no energy to produce eggs. If this happens in winter, you may find it is well into spring before you have eggs again.
#3 Avoid frozen and cracked eggs
When the ground is frozen or the coop very cold, eggs can freeze or the shell can crack. This causes invisible micro-bacteria to immediately start contaminating the inside of the egg making them unsafe to eat.
#4 Avoid frostbite
Frostbite for human or chicken is painful, and it is a pain that lingers. The older you are, the worse this pain can be. If you have older chickens in your flock who have served you well, or battery hens that need a little TLC, why not add a little bit of luxury to their lives with underfloor heating.
#5 Gentle heat
Underfloor heating is not like installing a radiator into a coop that will blast out heat. A gentle background heat that takes off the chill is the perfect solution. Some underfloor heating kits also work with solar panels and other forms of alternative energy, meaning it costs nothing or very little to run and to keep your chooks warm in the winter or at night.
Underfloor Heating Supplies is a supplier of all components and kits needed to install underfloor heating, whether this is in your home or in your chicken coop. With the popularity of underfloor heating soaring, isn’t it about time you looked to see what all the fuss is about? This is a collaborative post.