With the cost of home remodels, not to mention inane regulations, it seems to make sense to explore passive technology with barns.
My chickens won't lay when their cold, and every large animal btu that goes into the atmosphere is wasted feed.
Salatin wintered chickens in a greenhouse, and in Solviva they were the heaters of the operation. Holzer winters pigs in earth dens (55F is close enough to warm around here)
Traditional English barns are built of stone and half/sunk in the ground (makes mucking a lot of work especially mechanized)
Anybody have intentionally designed barns for both function and heat conservation? Or thinking about it?
My understanding is the ventilation is much more important for animals like cows and horses than heat retention. For cows especially, which is my area of expertise, you are far better having a cold but well ventilated shelter for them. I can say with certainty that temps in the -10 to +10 F range do no harm whatsoever to cows.
The old style of sunken barns with tight walls, did stay warmer, but resulted in many respiratory health problems for the animals living there. It was a net negative for the animals, hence the move to more ventilated barns. I think that ducks and pigs might be an exception here.
It is often our human tendency to anthropomorphosize that causes us to believe that our livestock would be better off in more 'humane' conditions. Of course, there is a line out there somewhere this side of Fairbanks, AK, where any animal would want some warmth.
I don't know how cold your weather gets but here in Kentucky we have been free ranging half a dozen layers on about an acre of land. Supplement feed consists of spoiled rice and other kitchen scraps. Perhaps we are lucky, but between their open-air 'coop' box which they have free access to (dogs keep away predators) and their ability to forage the grounds, we have found they lay close to as well in cold weather as they do warm. To give an example of this, recently a 5 day cold snap hit with accompanying snow and 0-10F weather while we were on a 5 day vacation. One dog stayed (we had a neighbor leave out food) and protected the ladies and when we returned we found about 25 eggs in their nesting box.
Having had chickens for a number of years like this, I have observed that they are great foragers if given the chance and readily live off the land with some scrap food supplementation. There are coyotes and coons out here, sometimes we hear huge packs howling at night, but a disciplined LGD and free range has been wildly successful so far. It's easy to over-complicate things and, at least with the ladies, we find that allowing them do what they love to naturally do comes far easier than any sort of fenced or cooped/heated/artificial solution would.
Just food for thought.
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