Chicken coop: heated water

It’s getting cold, starting to drop below freezing at night, so it’s time to put out the waterer heaters. Each of the coops now has a metal water dispenser that sits on a heated base. The base only comes on when the temperature drops below freezing, to warm up the water a little, just enough to prevent it from freezing:

The coops themselves aren’t heated or insulated. It may seem counterintuitive, but providing heat is actually bad for the chickens — since a sudden power loss could result in them freezing to death. If they gradually get used to colder temperatures, they build up fat and fluff to keep themselves warm. They also snuggle together while roosting.

The main requirements for winter are to prevent the water from freezing (and thus preventing them from drinking it), avoiding cold drafts while ensuring ventilation, and collecting eggs more often so they don’t freeze (and crack).

Chickens in the veggie garden

Now that we’re done with the veggies for the year, it’s time to let the chickens in to clean up the beds. In no time at all they’ll eat all the leftover vegetation, and till the beds.

Here’s a YouTube video:

I cut a hole in the fence from the new run:

Enabling the new chickens to enter the veggie garden:

And re-opened the hole from the old run, for the old girls:

The new chickens didn’t take long to start investigating the garden beds:

For the most part, the two flocks are staying on opposite sides of the garden, though there have been some interactions:

Camilla the escape artist

The previously mentioned green eggs turned out to be being laid by Camilla, the Easter Egger. As mentioned, she laid her first few eggs in a shelter in the run, that I had added to give them shade. 

To encourage her to lay in the correct place (the nesting boxes inside), I removed those shady spots. But she didn’t accept that; instead she flew onto the roof of the coop (about 7’ up):

And instead laid in a spare compost bin just outside the run:

Sigh. I’ve had to let her back into the run several times, as the front of the roof is too high to which to fly. So I’m working on covering the run, so she won’t be able to get out.

In good news, we got a light brown egg from another chicken today… and it was correctly in the nesting box. I’m not sure who laid this egg, but at least she figured out the right place!

Green eggs and him

This morning I found a couple of small green eggs in a shelter in the new chicken run. Likely either from Martha, the Blue Ameraucana, or Camilla, the Easter Egger. Our first eggs from the new chicks!

Of course, after all that effort building nice nesting boxes for the girls, the first eggs are outside. Hopefully they’ll figure out the correct place to lay.

In other chicken news, our new Buff Brahma chicken, Babe, has started to crow. So it looks like she is a he. We should have guessed when he developed the beautiful plumage, but we knew that he’ll be a big chicken, so didn’t think much of it.

We didn’t want a rooster, but it turns out we have one. He’s so pretty, we’ll probably keep him, unless he becomes a problem. The name still works — like Babe Ruth, ya know.