Innovative use of underfloor heating keeps hens happy
A hill farmer has found an interesting way of keeping thousands of hens comfortable and warm enough to carry on laying.
Llyr Jones, whose farm is in the hills close to Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr in North Wales, is harnessing ground heat to keep his hens warm. He has had 2,000 meters of pipe laid under his land and his hen houses.
This system takes advantage of the fact that the temperature beneath the ground never drops below 4°C (39°F), regardless of what the weather is doing. The water in the pipes buried about four feet below the ground is warmed naturally. It is then passed through a heat exchanger and into a heat pump.
From there, it passes through the underfloor heating pipes in the hen house. The heat rises from the floor, filling the entire space with warmth for the 16,000 hens living there.
Jones explained how the hens benefited from this when he spoke to a reporter recently. He said:
“I need the hens to be happy and warm at 18°C so that they use all their energy to lay larger eggs – if they’re cold then they use that energy to warm themselves up.”
He estimates that the cost of installing the system will be covered by the power he saves within seven years. After that, he will continue to enjoy free heat and benefit from the fact that his hens will continue to lay more and bigger eggs.
Combining underfloor heating systems with ground or air source heat pumps is becoming increasingly affordable. Advances in technology are enabling even those who do not own much land to benefit from these innovative new heating systems.