Friday, December 25, 2015

Beware of this Chicken Water System Malfunction

The coop (minus the hay before scraping where the chickens roost),
 notice how the hanging bucket has a growth of algae along the side.
Despite the high maintenance the traditional gravity water font rquires,
we have chosen to go back to using it in tandem with the hanging bucket.
We lost 4 chickens from our flock this past week. We found the bodies when we went out to do coop maintenance (chickens poop, a lot!). My son and I stood outside the coop trying to figure out what caused them to suddenly die. They had food. They had water. I had even given them pie pumpkins and squash as a special treat. The coop is protected from high winds. There is plenty of space for the number of chickens. It was truly puzzling. 

I had been in the hospital a couple of days and my son had cared for the chickens while I was unable. I asked if the chickens had acted oddly. He stated he hadn't heard Rukus crowing much, but Fergus was still crowing as usual. One of the deceased chickens, unfortunately, was Rukus. 
Rest in peace Rukus

While my son moved the bodies to the compost bin, I walked around inside the coop. Examining the water bucket hanging in the center I could see it was almost full. However, I noticed a fine growth of algae along the sides. Lifting the lid off the bucket, the chickens went crazy. Calling to my son, I asked when was the last time he had to refill the water. He came back over to the coop and said it had been about 5 days. The chickens hadn't been drinking much water, Not knowing, he had attributed that to the temperate weather. We were dead wrong. 

The nipples on the water bucket were not allowing water to exit the bucket when the chickens pecked them. Reaching inside the bucket, I pushed on the nipples and water began flowing again. Meanwhile, my son went and fetched water to refill the old gravity fed water font and the entire flock spent the next 15 minutes drinking. 
Compost pile will be the final resting
 place of our four lost chickens.

It is sad that we had to lose 4 chickens to learn this lesson, but don't trust any water system! ALWAYS monitor how much water is being consumed by your flock. Chickens require a surprising amount of water and even in cold weather healthy chickens will drink a pint or more of water per day per chicken. 

How do you make sure your chickens have plenty of fresh, cool water? 

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