natural coop heater

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by panner123, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. panner123

    panner123 Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    A neighbor asked me to help her with her chickens, since her husband is in the hospital. While helping her clean out the coop I noticed how warm it ws in there. Outside it was about 34 degrees and getting ready to snow, which it is doing now. After the coop was clean I asked her how they kept the coop so warm as I didn't see any light or heater. She laughed and said it is all natural and took me out back of the coop. I couldn't believe my eyes, they had built their coop over a compost pole. The compost pole puts out enough heat to keep the coop at or above sixty degrees all winter. They are well over seventy years old and said they learned this method from they parents as children. I have never seen this type of heat use in all my years around chickens, just goes to show you, you are never to old to learn something new.
  2. Mac

    Mac Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    South Central PA
    Could you give me some details, please? I know what compost is, but no idea what a compost pole is all about. How does this work?

  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator

    Sep 25, 2007
    Yes, details, please! What the heck is a compost pole? I've got horses and donkeys and have plenty of compost....
  4. BlueGrassFever

    BlueGrassFever In the Brooder

    Dec 24, 2007
    Thumb of Michigan
    Add me to the curious!!

    Do you mean the coup is built on top of the comost pile with a pvc pole running through the middle? (minus ventholes in the pole??....)

    Let us know!
  5. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Songster

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    Can't wait to hear how they did it.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Compost-heated structures are very traditional. In fact that's one of the reason deep litter was originally used (not what many people here mean by 'deep litter method', but the real deal so to speak, done on an earthen floor with lots of manure from large (or very numerous) animals, so that the bedding truly does compost and heat up). It helped keep the animals warm!

    Composting horse manure also used to be used to heat glasshouses or covered trenches, to grow [cold-tolerant] veggies etc out of season [in moderate climates]. Oh, and for a few veggies this can help with early planting in the garden as well.

    It does work in the sense that a large properly built compost pile will heat up pretty good for a while.

    However before anyone gets too excited about it, remember that as soon as more powerful heat and insulation technologies were affordably introduced, manure-based heating was almost universally abandoned [​IMG], and for some pretty good reasons:

    -You gotta have lots of the right materials and a certain amount of know-how to construct a pile or pit that will heat up well;

    -It produces a considerable amount of carbon dioxide etc while decomposing, which used to require management when using the method for plants although in a ventilated coop I suspect you's be ok;

    -It is not controllable heat, nor is it practical to replenish it during the winter; and therefore

    -Come mid to late winter your coop is going to be much colder than at the it was earlier.

    Combining it with earth-source heating might be helpful, but then you have to worry about molds etc growing in the in-ground pipes.

    I'd love to hear more detail about this couple's setup, though!

    Last edited: Dec 28, 2007
  7. panner123

    panner123 Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Sorry, I guess I should proof read first. It is built on top of a compost pile. Not a pole. I really didn't get much information on it, but I will. I am going to take my grand children oner there next week end to give the coop a good cleaning. From what I got from her was they keep adding to the pile to keep the temperture inside the coop at about 60 degrees. Since I would like to build one myself, I will get the information. From what I saw of it, you lose a lot of space. And it take a great deal more material to build. I might add, she told me they once had a fire caused by the pile over heating. So you must have to watch it pretty close.
  8. Charlie Chicken

    Charlie Chicken Songster

    Dec 24, 2007
    Phippsburg, ME
    A much easier way to go if you are concerned with keeping the chicken house warm is to just make sure there is a south facing window in the coop. That way there is no interaction from the caretaker required except for an occasional washing of the window to allow for efficient warming from the sun.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: