When I made the decision to keep the chickens working the garden beds all year long I knew I would have to come up with method to keep them cool over the hot months. As we are about to hit those months - January and February - I had to come up with a solution, and fast.
When Melanie and I purchased this home the previous owners had the roof newly painted. Following the ridiculous trend in Australia they opted to paint it black. As I am sure you are well aware black absorbs heat, and in this hot country our roof and subsequently house got rather hot. Keen for a solution that didn't require a bigger airconditioner I did some research into what options were available. One option was to repaint the roof a light colour. But an even better option was to line the underside of the roof with aluminium.
Aluminium is a metal with a very interesting property: it will not radiate heat. This means radiant heat like that from the sun cannot penetrate it - or at least 97% of it can’t. An astronaut suit is made from it for this very reason. On the moon temperatures can reach 123 degrees celsius and it is aluminium that prevented Neil Armstrong from being cooked alive.
“So why does food wrapped in aluminum foil cook in the oven then?” I hear you ask. Well while aluminium is an extremely good insulator of radiant heat it is hopeless when it comes to convection of conductive heat. Because the aluminium is in contact with the food, heat is conducted straight through. There always must be an air gap between the aluminium and the item you are attempting to insulate.
Now even though the home of our chickens has a light coloured roof you can still feel an awful lot of heat radiating through. So based on the same knowledge I used to cool our home I retro fitted aluminium insulation to the chook dome. And the difference was quite amazing.
I installed the aluminium layer under the fabric as this is how it is recommended to be installed and does mean I am not blinded every time I enter the garden.
My son and I also insulated the nesting box (see first photo). But as my young but very bright son wisely pointed out, I must remember to keep the opening to the nesting box facing south as to not let any direct sunlight in. Otherwise the reflective nature of the aluminum will probably do the opposite to my intention creating an oven that roasts the chickens instead.
Surprisingly Melanie gave me a funny look when I told her the good news of how the chicken dome is now fully insulated and ready for summer. I am thinking the fact that I haven’t yet completed the insulation job on our own home might have something to do with it.