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Eglu Cube vs Wooden Chicken Coop: Which will stay warmer?

On a cold winter’s day, when there’s a heavy frost or a thick blanket of snow do you ever wonder how your chickens manage without central heating and a mug of cocoa? It’s natural to worry if your hens will be comfortable when the temperature dips below freezing.

Unsurprisingly, chickens will look for shelter when the weather’s bad so the first thing you can do to keep your chickens cosy is make sure they have a winter proof chicken coop. In this respect choosing the right chicken coop is similar to choosing your own house. You wouldn’t want drafty windows and doors, a leaky roof, and paper thin walls – and neither do your chickens. Many coops that are bought are fine during the summer, but unfortunately when winter comes they can leave their occupants shivering.We set about testing two very different chicken coops over the course of 3 nights in the Bavarian Forest in Germany. A place that gets more than its fair share of snow and ice.

The first chicken coop was typical of the type sold all over the internet. On first impressions everything fits together well and it’s attractively painted, it comes with a roosting bar and a nesting box and a run. It appears that this is a perfectly good chicken coop. However, on closer inspection it’s worrying to find that large sections of the wooden panels are only 5mm thick. There’s no insulation and nothing in the instructions regarding the suitability of the coop for year round use.

The second coop was the Eglu Cube by Omlet. This chicken coop is part of the Eglu range which all feature a twin walled construction providing an insulating layer all round the coop. Similar to the way ice chests are made, it feels extremely robust and heavy duty. You could say it’s agricultural quality in a hobby chicken coop. It looks the part – but would the Eglu keep the cold out and the warm in?

Identical digital thermometers were placed inside the Eglu and the wooden coop which would take readings both inside and outside the coops during the night. Cameras were also placed inside the coops to record the chickens. After the chickens went to bed the front doors were closed, in fact the Eglu Cube came complete with a rather fancy Automatic Chicken Coop door (coming soon) which gently closed behind the last chicken.

As it got dark the outside temperature dropped to -3.8℃. While it was getting colder outside, it was getting warmer in the Eglu Cube. Around an hour after the chickens had gone to roost the temperature inside the Eglu Cube was 8.3℃ and it stayed there all night. That’s a plus 12℃ temperature difference.

Unfortunately it was not as cosy in the wooden house. As the temperature outside dropped so too did the temperature inside the wooden coop. At 11pm it was -2℃ inside the coop. That’s only 1℃ warmer than the outside temperature. In fact the inside of the wooden coop stayed below zero for nearly the whole night, warming to just above zero by 7am.

If it was freezing inside you might be wondering how on earth the chickens survived. Chickens, as with all other warm blooded animals, have temperature-regulating mechanisms to keep their body temperature at a constant level (around 41-45℃ in a healthy adult hen), so they can cope with a certain amount of cold. Just like wild birds, chickens will fluff up their feathers when it gets cold; this traps a layer of air which insulates the chickens against the cold. This is why it’s so important that chickens don’t get wet during cold weather, as this prevents them from being able to fluff their feathers up. In addition a drafty coop will make it hard for them to trap this layer of warm air too.

They will also tuck their head under their wings and huddle together with their coop companions to keep themselves warm. On the in coop camera recording you could clearly see how the chickens select a roosting place, and then fluff up their feathers.

So if the chickens in the wooden coop were able to keep themselves warm even though it was freezing inside there’s nothing to worry about? Not quite, a coop that’s not insulated or draughty will place extra demands on your chickens because of the heat being lost. Chickens in a cold coop will have to increase their metabolism to turn food and fat reserves into heat at a faster rate than hens in a cosy coop. If the heat loss is extreme, or a chicken is not fully fit then over the course of several cold nights there is a risk that all the energy reserves are used up resulting in the chicken being unable to keep it’s body temperature high enough with potentially fatal consequences.

What this test shows is that properly insulated, winter ready chicken coop can make all the difference between a cosy night in the coop and one spent shivering to keep warm. As an added bonus hens that use up less energy keeping warm are more likely to keep laying.

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Jo changed her wooden coop for an Eglu Go UP

Jo Page is a veterinary nurse who also runs the blog My Little Country Lifestyle, where she shares stories from her countryside life in the South West of England. Jo recently upgraded her old wooden chicken coop for an Eglu Go UP, and has written about her first weeks with the new coop:

“As a veterinary nurse I take the welfare of all my animals very seriously. As humans we have bred animals and birds to suit our wants and needs and on occasion this does mean they aren’t able to survive or thrive without human intervention.

The hens are also not ‘only a chicken’ they are birds I have chosen to keep for the benefit of fresh eggs and it is my responsibility to ensure their needs are met.

The Eglu Go UP is worlds away from the make shift house they had when we moved and much more superior to the coop and run at our previous house. Both were predominately made of wood and we have already had to dispose of one chicken house due to a red mite infestation which we could not clear. Red mite bite the chickens at dawn and dusk, can make them anaemic and effect egg production. They thrive in damp woody environments so traditional wooden chicken coops are a breeding haven for them.”

 


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A Customer Review of the Outdoor Cat Run from Omlet

Do or Don’t??

 

Are you considering buying a run for your cat?

5 degrees outside, oh how we’d love to open a window or the French Doors, but we have two indoor cats that might attempt to get out.
This is how we first got the idea for a cat run.

My husband is very determined that the house and garden should look good, so fencing in the whole garden was not an option for us. Anyway, fencing might keep our cats in, but it wouldn’t keep other cats out.

Next idea, should we build a run ourselves? No, it won’t look good next to the house and it’s not flexible.
I was looking around for something movable and flexible, but it just didn’t exist! Or did it? Suddenly I came across Omlets solution – exactly what I was looking for.

An outdoor run for which I would be able to decide the length and width myself. Easy to move, pack up, make smaller or make larger – and it’s green like the garden. One of the things I fell for is that you can place the run directly on the grass, so the cats have a natural floor to play on. The roof is made up of the same netting as the rest of the run, so the cats can keep an eye on what is happening in the sky, whether there’s a bird, a plane or something else.

When it rains the run can be covered so you can use it with your cats like a kind of covered terrace. The same covers can also be used to create shelter from the wind, shade from the sun or a guard to give the cats some peace and quiet.

Some people might feel it’s not right to put cats in a cage, but I don’t see it as a cage at all. I call it the cats’ outdoor space. We keep them there to protect them but at the same time it gives them the opportunity to experience nature and get some fresh air without the risk of getting run over or get into other bad situations. Both our cats love their outdoor space and they use the entire run like one big climbing frame.

Now we can enjoy life outside with our cats

No more being woken up in the middle of the night or early in the morning – now we have two happy cats that get all the mental and physical stimulation they need in their outdoor space.

The Omlet Outdoor Cat Run has given us our outdoor life back and given our cats a better, healthier life.

– Maria, Roskilde

 

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