No More Frozen Water Buckets
In 2016 I upgraded my winter water buckets to heated dog bowls for the chickens and dogs (well, more for the wild birds, since the dogs are inside a lot) and a 3 gallon heated bucket for Mara, my horse. This was a major improvement. Daily barn chores became much easier. No more ice chopping and shattered plastic buckets for me.
January 2017 has arrived, with a new division in the hen house holding 25 young Golden Comets, due to start laying in April. They were hatched October 26 (the same day my new granddaughter was born ) and the chicks have all feathered out but still have a Mama Light Bulb to get warm under. With temps in the teens, their unheated waterer has frozen every night for the past week.
This winter we also have three Mallard ducks I could not resist bringing home from the feed store last Spring. They share feed, pasture and barn space with the laying hens and our one Rooster quite well, but they make a complete mess of the communal water bowl. I have to clean and refill their water bowl twice each day. It wasn’t much of a problem when the ducks had their swimming trough outside but I put it and the water hoses away when winter hit.
I was trying to design a waterer that only the chickens could reach and was thinking of a raised platform surrounded by a perch for the chickens to jump up on. Ducks don’t seem able to jump or perch at all, so I figured it would keep them out. Then I saw a Nipple Waterer, which has little drip nozzles that the birds peck at to release the water. Both the chickens and the ducks learned how to work the foot pedaled feeder in only 2 weeks this summer so surely they can learn how to drink from drippers.
The company I purchased the electric (anti-fox) poultry fence from has this Heated Nipple Waterer and I have ordered 2 of them, one for each chicken pen. I can’t wait to set them up.
This will supply all the chickens and ducks with clean, ice free water year round. Handy things like this make me really appreciate having electricity and running water in the house and in the barn!
My ultimate goal is to figure out how to warm and power the barn using solar. I have visions of a sunken greenhouse…
-Wendy lee, writing at Edgewisewoods, Gardens and Critters