Monday, December 30, 2013

Roast Chicken

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.


  1. Since chickens are covered with feathers that keep them hot, and they can only open their mouth and pant to cool themselves, they are less able to avoid dying of the heat than humans are. Can you freeze some bottle of water for them to sit on or get near? One blogger said one of her hens sat astride the bottle.

    It certainly is torrid according the news I hear from AU. Good luck keeping the hens from dying of the heat. If it were that high here, I have thought I would put a fan on mine if they got too hot. They are mostly free range, so when it is hot, they get in the shadiest part of the yard and sit in the dirt under heavy bushes.

  2. It sure has been a heat wave - 40+ all week. Every night when I get home the first thing on my mind: is how are the chickens going? And so far I am pleased to say they are all still alive and well.

    On the Sunday I hopped in their with them to get an idea of the temperature inside the dome. I was highly impressed it was even cooler than standing under our pergola. I can honestly say the insulation works.

  3. Good pointers on roof with aluminum, Jason! I must agree with you that it is one of the best heat insulators there is. And you’re rest-assured that it won’t get damaged easily because this kind of metal is non-corrosive.


  4. Could you please give me information on how to insulate my metal ceiling/roof with aluminium? Could I use foil? Which side up do I need to place it? How much space between sheets is optimum? etc. etc...
    My house is VERY hot in summer and am looking for inexpensive ways to cool it down.
    Thank you for any assistance you are able to give.

    1. I insulated my roof with aluminium foil. I used concertina foil batts which are crinkled cardboard covered in aluminum foil. They simply staple between the roof rafters. The foil works either side up. The only important requirement is that it has a small air space on the underside - otherwise the heat will be absorbed by the material underneath.

  5. Thank you so much for your help (long time between contact, I know!)
    One last question... how do I ensure the air space and how deep should it be? Is it okay to just sit them on the pre-existing batts or do I need to create a system to keep them held up?
    Thanks again... sorry if this is so out of date that you can't remember...

  6. Sorry but a quick P.S.:

    On the link you provided there is no S.A. seller.

    So, have you a contact number or should I make the effort to Google all by myself?

    Sigh, sometimes life is hard! ;)

    (Really though, do you have a preferred supplier?)

    Thanks, again.

  7. There needs to be a small air gap below the foil. If you use the concertina foil bats you can put them straight on top of the pre-existing bats because the concertina shape creates the air gap for you. The link I provided is the supplier I used and they will ship to SA. Contact them and they will answer any question you have I am sure.


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