Great information and thank you for sharing this. Im a newbie with 12 Red Star Hens, and after such a mild fall / beginning of winter in Upstate NY, we are into the coldest snap we have had in a while, and the water situation has hit the critical point. I use the metal double walled waterer, and once that sucker is froze, trying to get it thawed and filled looks more like a pro wrestling match. I do not have electricity in our coop, and would prefer to keep it that way. I've been trying to increase the water content of their "treats" like cantalope, cucumber, microsprouts, and this morning,... oatmeal with warm broth, it was a **** near party, they loved it! I was hoping that by feeding food with a higher water content it would help to offset the temporary lack of water due to freezing. Am I correct in this train of thought,..? In addition to "treats" they get scratch feed, and layer pellets. We have not experienced any interuption in egg production, although poops are a little looser than usual since incorporating the juicier treats, but nothing that seems out of the norm. I have a poop board under their roost, that gets scraped everyday or every other day, So I can get up close and personal with the "end Product" and any signs for concern. I will definitely try the soaked oats especially after the oatmeal party they had this morning.
Here are a few other ideas I had, to keep the water from freezing, but I haven't had time to research thoroughly. You have waaay more experience than me, and would appreciate your thoughts.
1. Will a small amount of sea salt in the water help it from freezing as quickly, and is it ok for chickens, maybe mix in some bone broth with the water?
2. Would there be any harm in placing a rock, like a regular rock from our yard, on the woodstove to warm it, and place it in the waterer. I was thinking it would slowly release its warmth, and whatever minerals might leach into the water are naturally present anyhow?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, thank you in advance.