The Prepared Homestead: Chicken-Heated Greenhouse

| 12/24/2015 9:43:00 AM

Tags: greenhouses, chickens, poultry, raising livestock, home heating, winter, Sean Mitzel, Idaho,


As a permaculture design consultant and homesteader I am always looking for ways to integrate different elements of the homestead to work together synergistically. Chickens are one of my favorite homestead elements.

They provide so many different and useful functions: entertainment, garden preparation and clean up, tilling of the soil, pest (bugs and mice) control, fertilizer spreading, food forest management, of course eggs and meat, and heat for a greenhouse!

Normally, our layers are either paddock shifted or free ranged throughout the growing season from spring to fall. During the colder months we take a different approach for wintering over our hens. We integrate our greenhouse with chickens and sometimes rabbits.

Since I cannot stand chipping ice, I want a simple system designed to prevent the water from freezing. The chickens generate enough heat to raise the temperature in the greenhouse. During the day, when the sun is shining, the greenhouse benefits from solar gain.

1/17/2016 1:36:25 PM

I see you have horizontal boards up at the roof. Are those structural? I just built the same GH but not sure how well it will hold up to snow. How is yours holding up?

1/17/2016 1:33:24 PM

Nice! So once the stench from the chickens gets too bad, you just cover the manure with straw? I've never raised chickens but I assume you keep them penned in from your growing area?

1/13/2016 9:36:42 AM

The greenhouse looks a lot like the one I built with plans from You can get a pdf file for instructions--easy, minimal skills required, great results. I plan to build a chicken coop and garden shed also.

12/28/2015 11:31:19 AM

a quick update: it is interesting watching the insulative properties of snow in this system. The sun is not out but chicken bodies, deep bedding and snow are now working together to keep it warm and cozy inside. 28 deg outside, 39 inside.

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!