While there is no real way to heat a chicken house – gas heaters or poultry heaters are the most cost effective solution. Solar heaters, even if they exist, are not available in South Africa. Electricity, as we know is expensive and a real planet killer in South Africa. Other ways to heat a poultry house are eclectic brooders and coal fired heaters – both unfriendly forms of heating a chicken house.
A gas heater for poultry houses offers instant heat, control over the heating source (LPG Gas) and a long term solution for heating day old chicks. A good gas heater will have a rheostat so that the heater will switch on and off as the chicken house reaches the correct temperature – you can check it with you min max thermometer. Other solutions for green chicken farms include solar panels for the lighting – but heating a poultry house, or cooling a chicken house remain the greatest challenges. Solar fans have been offered as a solution, but availability in South Africa is zero. Roof insulation is a good idea – in hot or cold areas.
To maximise the amount of gas your gas heater uses you should make sure your house is properly sealed. There are ways to minimise heat loss and help to keep the poultry house cool – while poultry fans, poultry house curtains and gas heaters are the primary methods – good insulation in the roof of your chicken house will make a huge difference. Roof insulation can be installed after you chicken house is up and running – but the best way is to install the roofing insulation while the chicken house is being built.
When choosing a brooder look at how many chickens you are planning to keep warm … and the space that needs heating. There is no need to heat the whole structure – put up a brooding curtain and contain the baby chickens to a small area – a brooding curtain can be moved along the house as the birds grow. A G12 Gasolec heater will heat upwards of 2500 chicks if you are using it correctly. The M8 chicken heater, the smaller chicken heater, will keep about a 1000 chicks warm. While these units are very easy to use, you will need to maintain them properly. On the G12 there is a paper air filter which stops the dust from the sawdust clogging the jets of the unit. It will need to be dusted out regularly, and can even be washed if it gets really dirty. The jets can still get clogged after being used in a very dusty house and you may have to occasionally clean them. The M8 unit has a steel filter – this also needs to be cleaned out every week or so - especially in the first part of the growing cycle – this is when your litter is still new and dusty – once the chickens have lived in the coop for some time the litter is more compact and less dusty. When you have finished the warming period of the day old chicks, take the unit out of the house, clean it and store it somewhere safe – do not leave it in the house to get even dirtier. When handling the heaters the only part that is easily damaged is the thermocouple – this should not be bent otherwise the unit stops working.