Power to the Chickens?
A chicken coop is a staple of every self-respecting farm, but chicken coops have also become popular in suburban and city homes.
Having a chicken coop is part of the movement for local food as well as a way to produce truly farm-to-table meals right from your own backyard. Some people also enjoy raising chickens as pets. But whether your coop is on your land or in your yard, it’s probably going to need electricity.
Electricity Needs in Chicken Coops
A chicken coop doesn’t need a complicated electrical setup. But there are some features you can add to make a happier home for you and your feathered friends.
What You Don’t Need
Most chicken experts advise against heating a chicken coop because it’s healthier for chickens to learn to adapt to cold temperatures. They can stay warm with thick bedding in a sheltered area. Above all, avoid using infrared heat lamps, which have caused many unfortunate coop fires. And steer clear of lamps with a Teflon or Teflon-like coating, which create fumes that can kill your chickens.
What You Do Need
Water heater or water pump. Chickens can’t survive without regular access to fresh water. In the winter, you’ll quickly get tired of having to drag fresh water to the coop every day. A water pump or a water heater can fix this problem. If your coop is so cold that the water regularly freezes, use a heating element that warms it up just enough to keep it liquid.
Individual heating pads. If the winters where you live are particularly brutal and certain birds need extra heat for a particular reason, use individual heating pads. These are also useful for baby chicks, who need more heat than adult chickens do.
Motion-detector light. A motion-detector light inside the coop will make it easier for you to see what you’re doing in the dark. You might also consider installing one along the path to your coop to make it safer to walk there.
Timed lights. Some people use timed lights to make the chickens produce more eggs rather than slowing down their production in the shorter days of winter. However, this is a controversial practice among many chicken keepers, who believe that it’s healthier for chickens to take a natural break from laying.
How to Wire Your Coop
If you’ve decided to add electricity to your chicken coop, keep the following pointers in mind.
- Chicken coops create a lot of dust, which can harm the circuit panel.
- With the low amount of power you need, a separate panel probably isn’t necessary. You should be able to power what you need in your coop with about 20 amps.
- Make sure the wiring is installed in a way that the chickens won’t get caught in it.
Running a wire from your house to an outside building is complicated and dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
A SESCOS technician can advise you on the best way to make the connection. It will probably involve connecting the wiring to a circuit breaker in an electrical panel. Make sure the circuit is protected by a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter).
Don’t Chicken Out
Keeping chickens has become a popular pastime for many people. It’s a fun, educational hobby that also gives you delicious, fresh eggs to eat. Adding a few creature comforts will make it more fun for everyone.
If you need help getting a pump, heater or lights installed in your coop, call SESCOS and get started. We’ll make sure your coop has everything it needs without ruffling any feathers.