How to Prepare Your Pen for Temperatures Changes
Keeping your livestock project comfortable in all temperatures will help weight gain and overall health and wellbeing. It’s important to be prepared for methods of heating and cooling your project. It’s likely that you will have a variety of weather to prepare for.
The normal range of temperatures in your area should always be the first consideration in the placement of your pen.
HOT CLIMATES If you live in an area that sees temperatures up into the 90°-100°+ degrees, shade will be your primary interest. We happen to live in a coastal area that is mild but windy at times. My first priority is a pen that gets both filtered sun, shade & wind protection. But if you’re in a hot area, you will want to select an area where there is more shade and protection from the direct sun.
In planning for temperatures, think about the changes in weather throughout the day and how it will affect your pen. Your goal should be to have a comfortable place for your project to grow. Not too cold and certainly not too hot. It is a Goldilocks perspective! If you are just setting up a pen, selecting which side of the yard could mean a huge difference in temperatures!
RULES OF THUMB FOR TEMPERATURES
Shelter – Provide a 3-1/2 sided shelter with thick bedding; this will help with cold and windy issues.
Heat Lamps – For temperatures 60° or less, securely chain heat lamps placed between 12-18 inches from the back of your standing animal. Also ensure that your lamps have shield guards to protect the bulb.
Extreme Cold – If your temperatures are extremely cold (under 45°), add straw bedding, a heat lamp and hang plastic PVC strips over the shelter doorway to retain heat.
Safety– Make sure electrical cords on heat lamps and fans are tucked away and safe from nibbling animals. No dangling cords! Set lamps on timers. Be safe for your Animals!
Fans & Circulation – Fans should securely chained and run if the temperatures are over 80°, and add misters if over 90° with full shade and bedding.
Standard Box fans can do the job at a reasonable price. $20-$35.
Strapping can be purchased $15-$20 or made to hang the fan level with the pen.
Fan Rack – If you want to hang the fan at an angle, there are speciality brackets that can be secured to the top of the fence or rafters $25.
Misting Rings can be purchased $40-70. They are attached to the box fan and a garden hose. They can help to lower the temperatures up to 30°.
Installation – Use a chain with secure snaps attached to an eye bolt to ensure that the lamp will not accidentally fall off a nail or become untied. Also, make sure your lamp has a guard over the bulb.
Never allow any bedding to touch the heat lamp. Minimum of 18″ off of the bedding.
Heat Lamp Base – Ensure that your heat lamp has a ceramic bulb base. The plastic bases may get too hot and melt.
Heat Lamp Bulbs – 175-250 watt bulbs are preferred. Lower watts will not get the area warm enough. Bulbs come in red or white. The white bulbs appeared to be warmer (just my opinion).
Temperature Timers – Plug heat lamp into a temperature-controlled timer. This investment ($15-$35) will save you $$ on your energy bill and keep your project from getting too hot.
Extension Cords – ALWAYS suspend the extension cords up and out of the reach of your project, as well as any water sources.
Plastic PVC Strips – The walk-in freezer type can be found by looking up online “Plastic PVC Replacement strips or PVC door curtains” for $20-$30. Cut to fit the doorway. Using the word “replacement” in your search will give you the small quantity needed. Otherwise, it will be enough strips to cover a 10’ wide doorway!
Note: Heat lamps and fans will become part of your equipment to be used on future projects. So while it may feel expensive in the beginning, it will become a great tool in raising a sound and healthy project.
For more Barn and Pen Setup related information:
Daily Pen Assessment – Goats & Sheep – This is a “must do” for every project showman!
Daily Pen Assessment – Swine
Pen Setup – Gates & Shelters 101