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 Post subject: chicken coop greenhouse
PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 00:36 
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Hi everyone

I'm planing on building a new set up. I live in Belgium so the main concern for an aquaponic set up is maintaining the temperature during the winter.

So my idea was to build a passive greenhouse with an integrated chicken coop. There are two main advantages in this design :
1. chickens will heat the greenhouse during the winter. I've read that 1 adult chicken gives 15w of heat, so 4 chickens give off the equivalent of one 60w lightbulb.
2. There is also carbon dioxide release witch is beneficial for plants.

The plan is to construct a GH facing south and have a chicken coop attached to one of the sides (preferably the north side). There would have to be a adequate air ventilation in order to circulate the heat trough the GH. I would insulate the 5 sides of the chicken coop that do not join onto the GH, so that more of the heat makes it out into the GH. When the temps get up in the summertime the two vents on top of the GH automatically open above.


But I have several questions concerning installing a aquaponic system in a chicken coop greenhouse:
1. Will the ammonia in the chicken manure kill the plants or harm the fish?
2. I read that “birds are warm-blooded animals, so they frequently harbor E.coli and salmonella bacteria in their intestines. You will need to keep your birds away from your aquaponics garden to prevent these dangerous bacteria from contaminating it.” Although there will be no direct contact between the chickens and the plants is contamination possible though the air exchange?
3. The heat transfer will happen in both directions, so on a sunny day the hot GH will overheat a well insulated chicken coop. Chickens get stressed in very hot conditions leading to health problems and death. If there is excessive summer heat in GH will I need to cool down my GH or are the automatic vents enough?

Thanks in advance for your shared thoughts on the subject.


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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 10:25 
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Hey Dave, welcome to the forum..

Interesting idea you propose. A while back I read Mike Oehler's book 'The Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse' which inspired me too to one day build a solar passive greenhouse (above ground or walipini - havent yet decided) and also use it to house my chooks at night for heating etc.

A couple of thoughts to your questions:

1) It sounds like you are planning to build an inground pond with the chickens pooping into it, is this correct? If so, yes, excess ammonia in the form of chook poop entering the fish pond could become an issue if not well managed, or you have insufficient growbed filtration (chook poop will place a much higher load on your biofilter). Might also make the water murky. Apart from this, yes it CAN be done, and others have shown its possible with ducks, chooks etc (search this forum) but the main concern is the pathogen risk as you point out. But who knows.. I've been peeing into my AP system and throwing in the occasional worm tea and handful of compost (which contained rotted down meat, dead rats etc - I compost everything here) for over 2 years now and I'm still standing never been sick so take what you will from my advice hehe :shifty:

2) I suspect, but cannot confirm, there is a natural biological/ecological protection barrier protecting the internal flesh of the plants from becoming contaminated with pathogens which in turn could be passed onto us - just think, before the industrial revolution and rise of petroleum-based fertilisers farmers for thousands of years have been fertilising their food crops with animal manure, blood and bone and urea. I think the bigger risk is the pathogens being present upon, and in turn ingested by us, on the EXTERIOR surfaces/leaves of the crops. Wash the vegies thoroughly before consumption and I reckon you'll be right

3) This point is subjective and will be influenced by a range of factors such as your location/climate and amount of sun hours hitting the greenhouse. If I were you, I'd build a greenhouse with adequate passive ventilation and cross flow. A lot of farmers where I live roll up the sides of their greenhouses over summertime, and let them down at night or on cold nights (and permantly down in winter), but this may not be practical to contain the chooks unless you had netting installed also to keep them in ?

Oil activated thermal opening greenhouse vents are also good and operate automatically without electricity

Consider digging a 'cold sink' in your greenhouse, where the coolest air will sink into and become trapped. Consider housing the animals in this trench to warm the coldest air. Checkout the book mentioned above for more on this and the image below:

Attachment:
greenhouse cold sink.jpg
greenhouse cold sink.jpg [ 43.46 KiB | Viewed 4759 times ]


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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 10:30 
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Consider too installing a passive solar, thermal heat bank at the back of your greenhouse, which heats up during the day and slowly releases the heat during the night.

This can be achieved by simply painting a line of 200 litre barrels black, and filling them with water eg:

Attachment:
thermal heat bank.JPG
thermal heat bank.JPG [ 13.92 KiB | Viewed 4759 times ]


Also keep in mind chooks can jump/flap up quite high so you may need to regualrly clip their flight feathers to prevent them jumping up and eating your vegies in the greenhouse


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PostPosted: May 30th, '14, 17:01 
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Hi guys,

thanks for the posts. It was very helpful

Just to clarify, my idea is to have a chicken coop attached to one side of the greenhouse. This will allow natural heating during the night and winter. Chickens and aquaponic system wont be in contact. I will install vents in the top and bottom of the dividing wall. In the winter, this will allow convective air circulation (the cooler air will be drawn in through the bottom vent and, as it takes on heat, it will rise and exit through the top vent).

In the coop I will use the deep litter method which will also act as natural heat source due to the composting in the coop over the year.

I was also thinking building my nesting boxes on the dividing wall. The nesting boxes would protrude from the coop into the GH. You would of course have to harvest the eggs form inside the GH. This will also bring a supplementary heat source for the GH at night.

So to recapitulate (top to bottom):

insulated roof l
top vent l
nesting boxes GH
bottom vent l
deep litter l
coop floor l



It's going to be a very exciting project :-)

Dave


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PostPosted: Mar 29th, '16, 07:44 
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Building chicken coop takes time, some skills and a lot of planning. One of the factors you have to consider in building coop is the climate. I have read that chickens are most comfortable when temperatures range between 40 & 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to choose chickens that are well-suited to your climate. But building a greenhouse chicken coop is a brilliant idea.


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