I've just been sure to carry buckets of water from the house to the critters a couple times a day. But then I wonder:
is it okay to pour them water in the same water dish? all ice chunky? does that mess with their temp?
and, is it okay to pour hotter water on to break some of the ice chunks? (this for the chickens that have one of those water feeders). if the chicks start drinking the water when its still warmish, does that mess with their temp?
In my ignorance I could easily be making a stupid error. like some country 'rule of thumb' about water I don't know about....
I briefly googled this topic, and found that bigger lifestock places have heaters for their tanks...which leads me to think that warm water isn't going to hurt anyone.
(somewhere i remember hearing that warm water freezes faster. what true if so, is that an issue with critter care?)
warm water is often appreciated when its cold and critters will drink alot more. some of the models are designed to only de-ice while others actually heat the water to help get the animals to drink more which can be a serious problem in the cold for horses. I have also simply broke ice and added hot water periodically throughout the day. but imo the tank heaters are the way to go. I especially like the heated buckets thy have a little storage compartment on the bottom for the cord when not in use, the cord comes out the bottom when in use.(critters leave it alone) and the water is completely ice free even when its bitterly cold, unlike the drop in ones that inprolonged cold will just keep a hole in the ice, enough to drink out of but not ideal. with the drop in heaters I will occasionally come out to find some mischevious critter pulled it out of the tank. which is another concern with those, access to the cord, the cords have a wire spring thing on them that makes it unpleasant to chew on, those are ok, some just have a plastic thingy on the cord, and in my experience those get brittle and crack of over the years exposing the cord for animals to chomp on. also, if you have rubber/plastic stock tanks make sure that the drop in de-cicer are safe for them, some can only be used in metal stock tanks.
Leah's methods are the only reliable ones I've heard about.
If you pour hot water onto the chicks' frozen water, stick your hand in it immediately and see how hot it is. I make an attempt to empty all the water bowls near dusk, and fill them with warm water as soon as I can in the morning, even for the wild birds. My dogs are indoors most of the time, so I keep a water bowl in the kitchen, which is the one they use mostly.
If you use a heat lamp ($16/mo for a 250-watt lamp at $0.09/kwh), keep it near the chicken waterer if you can. Even if it keeps one side ice-free, it will help.
If you can insulate your chicken coop (if it's small enough), the birds' body heat may be able to keep any water inside above freezing.
But it's a pain, no getting around it!
It has a large window facing south that lets too much cold in right now (it's 22F right now at 5 pm), so I have a heat lamp in there, which is keeping it to 50F. It isn't really big enough for the waterer and feeder that they had in the 4'x10' tractor, so their feed is in a stainless steel dog bowl, and the water is in a larger SS dog bowl, with a largish smooth rock in it to prevent them from standing on it and tipping it over.
I'm going out there just before dusk and changing the water and refilling the food bowl. I've opened the door for them, but they take one look at the snow and say, "Close the door, please". So I'm tossing some scratch/sunflower seeds into the layer of straw on the floor for entertainment, and they pick through it all day. Then I have a string hanging from the heat lamp frame that has a clothespin on the end, and clip romaine lettuce leaves to it, which also gives them something to do.
next winter round I am going to play with heat tape and see if I can't get the chicken waterer to stay unfrozen. I'm thinking if I just wrap it around the holding tank and then wrap it with some form of insulation that the chickens wouldn't eat then it might just work. I know chickens well destroy fiberglass insulation and foam though so I might have to come up with some kind of barrier.
It's also an excellent heat reflector for use in lawn chairs while you're roasting hotdogs and marshmallows in the campfire, and for cold stadium seats.
They're such wusses. They can head-body slam each other but not break through a tiny sheet of ice? I had to break it up for them and then they let me go to sleep in peace.
Once enough snow melted so they could see some grass and some clear paths, they hurried out. They are definitely not 'snow chickens'!
I did have a tractor, and I will have again, but I don't right now. My first tractor was the only enclosure my birds had, so I made it quite strong, and it turned out almost too heavy to move, and it was certainly too heavy to move far. The new coop is more secure and warmer. Later, I will build a true lightweight chicken tractor that can be moved easily (just 2x2s and chicken wire, 4x8x1.5'. Their coop will also have a fence around it for when I don't have them in the tractor, yet don't want them running everywhere (which they do now).
I don't have insulation in mine, as our winters aren't too extreme. Colder/higher places need to insulate, esp if they want eggs in winter. If the chickens are stressed by cold, they won't lay eggs even if enough light is provided. People in really cold areas have built simple coops and have found their birds frozen to the roost or just plain frozen dead.
I think all coops should have an easily visible thermometer in it, so you don't have to guess.
I wonder if one of them rocket stoves in a chicken coop would get them to lay in winter. You would have to start a small fire every day, but it might be cost effective and definitely eco friendly.
I always understood that chickens required 16 hours of light per day to stimulate egg-laying. Period.
My four Buff Orpington hens are almost five years old. They stopped laying in September (they always do), they went into their mold in November (as usual), and I put them into their new coop early in December. Then we got all the low temps (for here, anyway) and the snow, so I hooked up a heat lamp in their coop. When it was 17F outside, it was 40F inside. When it was 30F outside, it was 50F inside. Fine.
They hate snow. I opened their door and they shrieked, "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?" They stayed in their coop for at least a week. Large south-facing window, thick straw on floor with scratch scattered into it daily, lettuce leaves hung from string, always fresh water and layer pellets.
We were only getting daylight for about eight hours a day.
And they started laying eggs. And I've been getting two or three eggs a day ever since.
So, what is going on? It can't be because of the light, because we're getting short hours and it's usually cloudy. The only difference is the heat lamp and the new (warmer) coop, changed from their chicken tractor that had clear plastic hanging around it, but was probably still drafty.
I am thinking that laying may be dependent on BOTH light and heat. If they aren't stressed by cold, maybe limited light is enough?
i am sort of tossing around the idea of old tires filled with something insulative, maybe even concrete to hold the heat from the day..... and forming it so the bucket can sit in the middle.
My kids have two paper routes, and a small water feature/fountain that hasn't frozen has caught my eye (BTW- I drive them on their routes).
Okay - so I'm thinking what about a solar powered water pump to keep a water set-up moving, and even clean by filtering during the journey. I visualize the water having a very small drink area in a cupped rock (mass) and then disappearing under rocks/soil back into the system. This way exposure is at a minimum. This is how the water-feature I'm watching is set up. It fails about a foot down rocks into a scooped out rock, and over the edge onto and through more rocks at the base. (I will try to take a picture today and post later)
My questions are:
(1) Is there a small, affordable solar solution (maybe like that used for gates and fences) that will run a water feature (I assume a small water pump for this)?
(2) Anyone have experience with water features/small ponds and their pumps and filters - could this work for med to small stock?
(3) How about backup systems in case of no-sun, dark days?
What do you guys think....?
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
There are commercially-available antifreeze proteins. They're non-toxic: Unilever puts them in low-fat ice cream. I'd kind of rather obtain a culture of the appropriate bacteria, and keep it in the freezer like sourdough starter..
Okay - so would adding these to water (and then, indirectly to one's animals) be doable? I mean what are the costs (time and money wise)? And how much management would this suggestion actually require. Would one have to take readings of the amount of these proteins in the water, or monitor the amount getting into the animals?
To my way of thinking, there is to much left unsaid here for these proteins to be a real consideration in this application.
How about a link to a practical application regarding animal watering troughs
Jami McBride wrote:
Would one have to take readings of the amount of these proteins in the water, or monitor the amount getting into the animals?
From what I understand, no. The proteins work in tiny concentrations, and can be digested without incident even in fairly high concentrations. My concept of the management effort would be: if a trough freezes, add a few glugs from your plastic bottle of culture, then replace that volume with water and flour (might need soy flour or something else, but the idea would be to choose a species that isn't a picky eater and let it adapt to soem ubiquitous food) before you put the bottle back in the freezer. Being specialist, cold-adapted bacteria, they'd be as little of a health threat as the thermophilic bacteria from compost.
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
There are commercially-available antifreeze proteins. They're non-toxic: Unilever puts them in low-fat ice cream. I'd kind of rather obtain a culture of the appropriate bacteria, and keep it in the freezer like sourdough starter...
thats a new one to me! I agree that it sounds like alot would still have to be hashed out about it but very interesting line of thinking.
I like the pump idea. gwen has dealt with pond pumps for a while with her set up. gwen - have you ever seen a solar one at a reasonable cost?
our bunny lived inside last year and I have never had to deal with keeping a water bottle unfrozen. but bunny is banished to outdoor living now. any ideas for that would be appreciated too!
you can get solar water/fountain pumps from good garden supply stores or pool/spa shops and solar supply stores, in my yabbie pond i use a night solar fountain pump (has battery back-up charges through day) they only cost around $100 in Aust.
[li]Faux rock for your pond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqUc5QSUBAQ
If there is enough interest maybe I can post the directions for this on the wiki for those with limited bandwidth....See images at the very end for ideas. [/li]
[li]Solar water pumps: http://www.solarpumps.com/?gclid=CMq8gI_R0Z4CFRxJagod7xJL-w This company's systems are for pumping water out of wells, a bit overkill for watering med. to small animals - good info[/li]
[li]Solar Fountain Pumps: http://www.siliconsolar.com/solar-fountain-pumps.html find wholesale, manufacture-direct prices on solar pump & fountain kit sets. we're getting warmer....
[li]Amazon: Showed two solar fountain pumps, but neither received good ratings so I won't post them.
[li]Thmo-pond: A floating pond heater that keeps a hole free of ice allowing toxic gases to escape throughout the winter. It is thermostatically controlled and operates on ONLY 100 WATTS! Heater will not harm pond liners or plastic ponds. 12' cord. $59.95 Not solar....
[li]Solar pond heaters are a great pick for many different reasons. For one, they are very easy to set up. Two, you do not have to deal with any wiring. Three, you do not have to pay for the electricity to run them. Four, solar pond heaters are environmentally friendly. The list could go on and on, listing all the benefits of solar pond heaters.
Setting up a pond heater in your pond is going to make your fish happier and your pond healthier, even during the winter months. In general, there are two main types of pond heaters: submerged and floating.
A floating pond heater consumes less energy and can be placed right on top of the ice to melt a hole and to thereby allow gases to escape from the pond. A submerged pond heater is going to heat a larger area.
http://www.pondepot.com/pondheatersandde-icers-1.aspx - I haven't figured out which ones on this product page are solar, but they advertise them so.....[/li]
When everything else was frozen solid the neighborhood rock fountains were still flowing free and all the little birdies started showing up. They drill through a rock and run the tubing through. This first image is more of a fountain, while the second is one flat rock over a tub filled with smooth river rocks. While the run off water froze the bubbling fountain remained liquid.
So I guess there is two ways to go (1) make your own, solar, ever flowing, rock fountain (maybe from a kit) or (2) use solar to power a pond warmer for your stock tank/tub.
More research needs done on prices and reliability, but this is a start.
As for rabbit water bottles Leah, they make heated water bottles, just Google heated water bottle rabbit to find the best price, Amazon even sells one. But I don't know if this plastic/electric solution would work for your needs. They are around $26.00
For this you could even use a heated lap pad around your current water bottle, and put some cardboard between the bottle/blanket and the cage to prevent chewing by the rabbit.
I like these much better - Glass Eco Pet Water Bottle, As low as $4.59 AND this - Insulated Water Bottle Sleeve, As low as $3.99 Found 'em here: http://pet-supplies.drsfostersmith.com/ You'll have to search the site for them as the link was to long.
If you look through livestock catalogs you should be able to find several ideas that are proven to work. One that I'm thinking of is an insulated water container with an insulated cover that has only a small opening for the animals to drink through. No electricity involved. Adding some electric heat to that contraption would keep the water open in all but the very coldest weather (like fifty below zero F).
I have goats (only three of them right now -- at least until around the middle of March); six rabbit cages, and almost thirty chickens. We recently had a couple of nights of five below F. I have plastic water bottles on the rabbit cages, and water the goats and chickens in black rubber buckets. Even on the coldest night the buckets didn't freeze solid (although I have had them freeze solid before). What I've been doing is bringing the bottles and both buckets in the house at night, and taking them out in the morning full of hot water. It's a little more work, but a lot easier than having to wait for ice to thaw before I can refill them. It would be good to have spare bottles for the rabbits (I do have enough buckets that I could just swap them out), but everyone seems to be doing just fine, so for now it's working.
I too like the idea of back up water containers for swapping out, but if I lived in a serious winter area I would spend the time and money for a better answer than hauling water buckets. But for you and I and our situations this is the best solution