Canadian Poultry Magazine

Features 100th anniversary Technology
Artificial Heat in Poultry Houses

February 1930

October 4, 2012
By G.L. Landon District Poultry Instructor Nelson B.C.


During the past year a committee of poultry officials in British Columbia, (of which the writer has been chairman), have been studying various phases of our poultry housing problems.  One problem discussed was the question of artificial heat for poultry houses.  The consensus of opinion is that all phases of the problems are not sufficiently clear to recommend it for general use, but that heating of houses is proving beneficial in many sections of the country.  It is used in a number of houses in the interior of the province.

It is probably a generation ago since artificial heat for poultry houses was first advocated.  It was tired out at the time and discarded as the results were not satisfactory.  From present day experience it is apparent that the unfavorable verdict rendered at the time was due to using too much heat and poor ventilation.  After remaining in the discard for several years, artificial heat has staged a comeback and is undoubtedly proving of a benefit in the colder sections of the province.  Improved methods of ventilating, our poultry houses has enabled poultrymen to use artificial heat with a much greater degree of success than formerly.

There are several methods of heating houses in use at the present time, several of them being installed in poultry houses in the Kootenays.  The most common method is to use an ordinary coal burning brooder stove.  The stove is generally placed in the house about the centre of the floor if it is a single unit, or at one end if the house is a long continuous one.  The stove is surrounded by a wire enclosure to keep the birds away and to prevent the litter from coming in contact with it.  If this is done, and the stove placed on a sheet of galvanized iron or tin, there is very little danger of a fire breaking out, unless the draughts are defective.  In the long continuous poultry house the stovepipe runs the entire length of the house.  This is also enclosed inside a wire box arrangement to prevent the birds from flying up and roosting on it.  Another method is to install a hot water heating system by means of pipes around the walls or under the floor.  Another method is to build a furnace like a Dutch oven under one end of the house and to place a smoke flue under the floor the entire length of the house which serves as a heat conductor.  These last two methods are more expensive to install and are not used to any extent in this province.  If a brooder stove is employed, coal is the fuel used, but occasionally an old drum type of heater is used, which will burn cordwood, small stumps, etc.  They require very little attention and are economical to use if the draughts are properly regulated.

If artificial heat is to be successful essentials must be kept in mind.  It is particularly important to keep the temperature fairly constant, 32 to 50 degrees apparently giving the best results.  Extremes in temperature must always be avoided at all times.  The house should be warmer at night than in the daytime, as the birds are exercising during the day.  The house should be comfortable but should never be too ho as this saps the vitality of the birds and exposes, them to outbreaks of colds, roup, bronchitis, etc.

The greatest benefit to be derived from artificial heat is the fact that it prevents winter slumps in production at a time when egg prices are highest.  Very low temperatures in any poultry house will result in frozen combs and wattles, followed usually by a severe slump in production, which may continue for several weeks.

Under general conditions it is not necessary to use artificial heat during the entire winter period, but only during cold snaps to prevent the temperature in te house from dropping below 32 degrees.  Those who have used heat in their houses in the Kootenays have reported such satisfactory results that an increasing number of poultrymen are preparing to heat their houses.