But I wanted to scale up, to process organic “wastes” by the pickup load using worms, obtaining in the process an abundance of earthworm castings (excreta) as a major component of our garden fertility program; but also a regular harvest of worms to feed the birds. We started building a cattle panel greenhouse (based on TexasPrepper's design) which will serve for winter housing for our expanding flock of chickens.I am making a video series about the project (among many others). They can be used to support planters on table-tops and benches, and they can release their heat around the plants (this is also a good idea to keep your chicken flock… A major reason for introducing the chickens to the greenhouse was to resolve a dilemma that has always dogged my winter management strategy: I don’t like confining my birds, I want to give them maximum access to the exercise, fresh air, and sunshine available outside—not keep them cooped up inside the winter house, however much space I allow per bird; and despite the fact that the deep organic litter there provides the best possible solution to several winter care needs. Another contribution I assumed the flock would make is the increased carbon dioxide exhaled by the birds, which is taken up by the plants as an essential step in their metabolism (conversion of sunlight to food energy). You can use multiple runs and vary their function each season. The carnage of leafy seedlings would be almost unbearable for greens aficionados. Keeping the ground from freezing is another part of my strategy: As a result, earthworms, slugs, and other soil-line critters remain available to the tirelessly-scratching chickens. Growing deciduous vines—grapes, kiwi, hops, scarlet runner beans, etc.—over and around the chicken coop section can help add more shade. Hen on nest in greenhouse. The combination of the chickens and the compost would create a very warm greenhouse. I know people use chickens &/or rabbits as a source of heat in their greenhouses in winter. In the late summer and early fall of 2005, I had to replace the rotting foundation boards around the perimeter of my 20x48-ft greenhouse. Oct 16, 2018 - Wondering how to keep a greenhouse warm in winter without investing in electric or fuel-supplied heating systems? Amongst permies (permaculture enthusiasts), the idea of combining a greenhouse and a chicken coop is nothing new. Manufacturer of commercial greenhouses, retail greenhouses, high tunnels, shade structures, retail plant displays and benches. Initially I had a few rogue fliers go over the door, and wreck havoc among the lettuces and chicories. More of his work can be found at Jonathon Engels: A Life About. Our full line of greenhouse ventilation and heating accessories are available to customize your greenhouse needs. ideas presented on this site. With regard to the aforesaid droppings: It is recommended that you allow 60 days from the time raw poultry manure was laid down on the site before harvesting crops close to the ground like radishes or lettuce. Still, the mulch hay was cheap: $10 per 800-lb bale, loaded on my pickup. Chickens will devour young seedlings and plants, so there’s a choice to be made: screen or solid wall. Food option #11: Food from the winter garden . Chickens Don't Need a Heater. As for the worm bins, I filled them with “pony poop” hauled in by the pickup load from a neighbor who breeds and boards horses. You are right that chickens in the garden can be destructive. I have no way to measure the degree to which it has done so, but I currently have 43 chickens, 3 Buff Ducks, and 2 African Geese ensconced there, and have to believe that’s a fair amount of warmth inside the greenhouse that otherwise would not be present. This video shows the material sourcing and wood cutting: A 20x40-ft growing space is more than Ellen and I need to keep us in winter salads and cooking greens, so I always grow cut-and-come-again green forage for the flock as well—mixed grain grasses (rye, oats, wheat, barley), crucifers (rape, mustard, turnip), and peas. I have kept chickens in a greenhouse tunnel for a couple years now in Sweden, at almost 60° North. And remember that the winter yard itself is a garden: Protected by the heavy mulch cover, the soil remains in beautiful condition, ready to plant without tillage, its microbial populations at full stride because of the protection from winter’s extremes, as well as the boost from the worm castings and the flock’s droppings. Anything from the cabbage family (broccoli, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts) should also fare well. It is bright, airy, and considerably warm in there. I don’t know how deep an organic mulch you would need in your area to keep the ground from freezing, but in mine (Zone 6b), I find that a six- to eight-inch mulch is deep enough. Thus I assume the teeming populations of microbes in the worm castings remain alive, ready to boost the soil food web when the litter is used in the garden come spring. Buy Chickens, Not Prozac: Can Technology Bring us Back to a Simpler Time? Photo from Getty Images. Have some chickens, but why not get one of those chicken runs you can move around to give them a bit of new ground every few days? The coop can be insulated during construction or insulation can be added after. electronic media, whether or not for profit, without written permission of Harvey or Ellen Ussery. These elements all have high thermal mass, meaning that when they warm up in the sunshine, they retain heat. Last year I simply planted the spring garden in that space and harvested when the crops were ready. The disappearance of the last of the green signaled the next stage in the strategy: I mulched those garden areas heavily with round bales of spoiled hay. These vines can be productive either to meet human needs or to produce chicken feed. Now, to address the obvious: A greenhouse chicken coop doesn’t give the birds free run of the entire greenhouse. They’ll be able to maintain egg production throughout the winter, which means more spinach omelets for you! (Greenhouses typically are oriented east-west. Permaculture designs are always looking for ways to combine different elements of the homestead so that they benefit each other. I simply dump that bedding out, either onto the deep litter in the chicken pens, or onto the thick mulch over the winter yard outside (more of that below). In return, chickens’ body heat can be a heating source for the greenhouse at the coldest times of the year, if the two structures are connected by a screen or uninsulated wall. weathers first winter – and it's … We therefore do not offer the contents of If they receive direct sun during the day, all of them will help with heating when the sun isn’t out. Plus, in the warmer months, your chickens can still live in your greenhouse, using it as shelter from rain and summer heat. I’ve read that in Holland, some growers buy bottled CO2 to pump into their greenhouses. Of course, for the thrifty homesteader, combining the two buildings will mean a significant financial advantage. Poly-Tex Inc. Greenhouse, Hobby Greenhouses and Display Systems | Our Business Is Helping You Grow. Captured rain feeds into watering system for chickens & is available for watering plants. (Joel Salatin sent samples of his dressed poultry and his poultry’s manure off to the same lab for testing, and both samples were reported as pathogen-free.) Because of that we have none of the problems winter chicken keepers in serious winter conditions have. Even small amounts of these greens provide a significant boost in vitamins and enzymes. Unlike the greenhouse area, the coop section doesn’t necessarily need sunshine, so this is productive way to use the walls and roof in the summer. If you make your greenhouse from plastic sheeting, a la a hoop house, creating a feature where the sheeting of the lower walls rolls up a couple of feet helps as well. In your area, you might find agricultural “refuse” at low cost, or free for the hauling. Yes, it can be done. as the source; any material copied must include this copyright notice; and no You’ll need to find ways to invite in cool breezes, keep your thermal mass from overcooking, and provide your birds with a little more space to frolic. I had long considered moving chickens into the greenhouse for the winter, assuming the added body heat would help moderate the frigid overnight temperatures. Think of all … Having plenty of bedding in the chicken coop absorbs the smell, and more importantly, it provides heating as it composts. I'll show you how things are working out so far. Hi there. The vines will leaf out in the summertime, when shade is needed, but will be bare in the winter, when more sun is needed. The greenhouse offers protection from the elements for the chicken coop, giving a shady spot for the chickens during warm times and a more insulated coop in the winter. The chickens body heat (and the heat given off by their manure) can add up. It was added to the site December 15, 2008. When I released the greenhouse flock onto that Eden, they ate as well as they had at any point in the season, gorging not only on the fresh green forage, but on live animal foods there as well—earthworms, slugs, and insects. Lettuce, spinach, mustard, and chard are perfect for this, as are cold-tolerant herbs, such as sage, parsley, and cilantro. Hoop greenhouse with the sides rolled-up. In either case, however, either pen door serves double duty: When the pen is open, its door latches into position to block access into the interior of the greenhouse, where the winter vegetable crops are growing. In the greenhouse chicken coop, plant scraps are fed to the birds, and the chicken bedding and manure create compost to feed the plants. Winter is here, so the chickens have spent the last month closed into the new greenhouse/coop. Last spring, I did not have a significant weed problem as a result of the hay mulch. By the time I moved the mixed winter flock into the greenhouse pens, every garden bed was lush with thick green cover. Both greenhouses and chicken houses need ventilation, so it should come as no great surprise that greenhouse chicken coops do as well. Since I need a center aisle in the greenhouse anyway, I didn’t lose any significant amount of growing space to the worm bins. Thanks for your insight however, , at my age its fun to learn about new techniques every day. Plants can overheat, as can chickens, so it’s important to think beyond locking in the heat. I simply dig out one or two five-gallon buckets of the bedding itself, after it is well broken down by the worms, but before conversion to pure castings (at which point it would no longer contain any worms). Body heat and exhaled CO2 benefit the plants growing in the greenhouse. That’d be a disaster. Your next step is to carefully inspect your coop and look out for any … You might also enjoy reading this article: https://www.communitychickens.com/will-chickens-destroy/. As late winter edges into early spring, they begin to sprout, becoming an even more valuable food source. That is to say, an area not in pasture sod, an area that could benefit from the winter management strategies I have put in place for two winters now. of copying, if any. With round bales, it was easy (and fun!) Our produce is harvested fresh and at the peak of ripeness and nutrition. simply to kick them off the pickup and roll them out. Many experienced homesteaders manage to perfect the beneficial relationships of the sun, chickens, and plants! Experimental sunken greenhouse in Mpls. Winterizing Your Coop. But on the other hand, I cannot release the birds onto a dormant pasture sod, which they would quickly strip. Explore. Ventilation is still important, so do not make the coop airtight. I had long considered moving chickens into the greenhouse for the winter, assuming the added body heat would help moderate the frigid overnight temperatures. In another case, a homesteader regularly puts chickens in his greenhouse each winter, using wooden frames and chicken wire to keep the chickens away from the growing plants. Don't put a heater in your chicken coop for winter warmth. They have beefy, odd ball pallets that weigh about 100 lbs and are SOLID. Jonathon Engels is a traveler, writer, and vegan gardener. Your birds will enjoy the mobility, help you create nutrient rich compost, and eat lots of bugs and grubs. It is possible to keep two greenhouse flocks, separated from each other, if I wish, releasing them to the outside on alternate days. Keeping chickens in one part of a greenhouse (or in an adjoining coop) while growing plants in another can be a good idea for winter growing. It’s your choice, but the screen provides a more interactive environment. Or I can open both doors and allow use of the two pens as one space, releasing all the birds to the outside. Chicken Coop Designs for Winter. The thick organic duff the birds are working absorbs the poops laid down, preventing their runoff into water systems, where they can be deadly, and recaptures their fertility for use on the homestead’s gardens, orchard, and pasture. great article on combining chick coop and greenhouse. Birds nestle together for warmth and spend less time outdoors, and egg production drops noticeably as more energy is needed for keeping up body temperatures. Individuals may copy and How Will I Protect My Plants? However, a greenhouse chicken coop meets both flora and fauna needs in the same building. The chickens will enjoy scratching the piles and eating the abundance of biota the piles produce. The benefit of raising your chickens in a greenhouse, hoophouse, or high tunnel is twofold – not only will your chickens have access to a warm structure all winter long (the sun will heat the interior of the building during the day, where it will dissipate slowly overnight) but you’ll also have a new growing space toward the beginning of winter. Garden Types. Greenhouses ... How To Heat A Greenhouse In Winter | Pampered Chicken Mama: Raising Backyard Chickens. Then, it’s compost/fertilizer in the spring. Another contribution I assumed the flock would make is the increased carbon dioxide exhaled by the bir… Supplying Your Chickens with Water during Winter. Read my article, “How I cut my feed cost by 100%!” for more info. Keeping your greenhouse fresh and productive through the traditionally-barren winter may seem impossible to the inexperienced, but with smart planning and the right tools you can keep your best produce coming in strong through the winter and well into the spring season. Though it took longer than I expected for the population levels to build to their current levels, the worms are now processing the manure rapidly, and I am harvesting worms regularly to feed to the flock. Menards doesn't give theirs away, they fix and reuse them. and practical experience. Your biggest issue during winter is preventing the water from freezing. Waste management, or waste cycling, is another important part of permaculture design. The idea is that the wastes of sustainable systems serves functional purpose. 4x4 posts were placed in the holes and a level, square and tape measure … ©Unless otherwise noted, all material on this site, both text and photos, Very well insulated, wire mess wall separating north end of greenhouse (where chickens reside) from southern exposure, protecting sun-loving plants from being eaten by chickens. This type of design could potentially encourage more eggs throughout the year, solve the problem of housing birds in the winter, make use of chicken manure and bedding, and keep fresh salad greens available year-round. I don’t have to picture for you the nightmare that would follow: an accumulating coating of droppings over a plot of frozen dirt, eager to run for the nearest stream, lake, or estuary with the first rain. Lawn And Garden. Similarly, I used two courses of 4-inch block as the perimeter for two 8x8-ft chicken pens in the north end of the greenhouse. Consider adding brick or flagstone pathways, stone garden borders, and a dark storage tank for water to your greenhouse chicken coop. Are you nuts?! That was not possible in my situation; but the north-south alignment actually works to advantage in this case: The framing for the chicken pens does not block light into the interior during the winter growing period.) The north door of the greenhouse opens onto a garden area. More free, high quality food on their “table.”. If that’s not worth considering, what is? “Now folks have their chickens, beehives and little farmers markets. But that is not to say they didn’t enjoy the bounty of the winter greenhouse as much as we did. I urge you to experiment with a heavily mulched winter yard such as I describe. The key to homesteading success is finding creative ways to make one project serve multiple functions. I have no way to measure the degree to which it has done so, but I currently have 43 chickens, 3 Buff Ducks, and 2 African Geese ensconced there, and have to believe that’s a fair amount of warmth inside the greenhouse that otherwise would not be present. You’ll still need to keep your poultry out of your indoor garden with netting and/or wire fences. The temperature here in upstate NY plummeted to -17F last year, so we had to pay special attention to the freezing water issue. Hen and chicks in the greenhouse. Permaculture writer Jonathon Engels shares the Ins, Outs, and Whys of keeping chickens in your greenhouse. For example, you could have three runs coming off the greenhouse chicken coop: one with protected garden beds, one for running and dust baths, and one with deep bedding that will become compost over the warm months. Your chicken coop can only do so much, especially when it starts to rain or snow. While keeping the greenhouse warm tends to be the focus of many permaculture articles, there’s also a need to keep it cool in the summer. Rather than struggling to control smell or clean out the coop during the winter, the space can be designed to hold a lot of bedding, added each time the smell seems bothersome. Chicken housing (nesting boxes and roosts) should be on the north-facing (or polar) side of the greenhouse. Separating the chicken coop and greenhouse is a must. The greenhouse windows should be to the south-facing (or sunniest) side of the greenhouse and your plant beds should be located near the windows. Again, I have no way to measure enhanced plant growth, if any. Corn stover or soybean vines from threshing operations; crushed corn cobs from milling; peanut or buckwheat hulls—take advantage of local possibilities. A warm greenhouse home means that your chickens won’t expend all their energy to maintain an adequate body temperature. The cost of heating a greenhouse in winter can sometimes be greater than the savings and advantages of using one to grow your own.. … During the winter months, your coop will be a safe haven for your chickens. Love this! As with any good permaculture design, there are some simple approaches that will help to make this greenhouse chicken coop even more efficient than its dual purpose of housing chickens and plants. Yes, with this system, the chickens are outside (in the greenhouse) all day in the winter. The deep litter bedding adds to the comfort. In temperate climates, winter prevents us from growing fresh vegetables outside, but a greenhouse—even one that’s solely heated by solar power—allows us to foster some greens and cold-hardy treats to enjoy. The mulched yard outside provides additional access to self-harvested, high quality foods. First things first, an open-air run should be connected to the greenhouse chicken coop, and when the weather is right, the chooks should have the option of getting some fresh air. DISCLAIMER: Information offered on this website is based on decades of research A session of wing-clipping put a stop to that impudence. When the chickens gather in their coop, they’re also heating the greenhouse. At the end of the winter, large quantities of mulch remain for use in the garden; but so finely shredded it is ideal even for small-seeded, closely planted crops like carrots. Maybe Lowes or HD would have them. Now, I can hear many of my more savvy readers protesting: “Hay? This maximizes the amount of sun the plants get, particularly in the winter; and with that increased sunlight, the building gets electricity-free heating in the daytime. I get my pallets from behind a local manufacturer. These are called “stacked functions.” In this case, the symbiotic relationship between greenhouse and chicken coop lowers the costs and increases the benefits of both. As with any good permaculture design, there are some simple approaches that will help to make this greenhouse chicken coop even more efficient than its dual purpose of housing chickens and plants. When it cools at night, they release that absorbed heat into the air. For me, this year, spoiled hay was the ideal mulch. This can happen year-round as during winter months produce is grown in our greenhouses. it was still over 80 degrees in there today, with an outside temp of 17. With the right design considerations, it’s possible to increase passive solar heating in the winter, block out cold polar winds, and minimize the steps from compost bin to garden beds. The greenhouse can keep your chickens warm during the winter and cool during the summer months. 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