I got tied up in holiday craziness and haven't been on BYC in weeks. I'm never going to catch up, so I'll just jump back in here. My chickies started laying! The RIRs anyway, I don't think the black australorps have started laying yet. We are getting about 2 eggs a day (and have 2 RIR and two BA). The first ones were so small, but had really nice shells and good form, etc. I took a few pictures but can't upload them right now.
Now that it's below freezing outside day and night, I was wondering if I need to check for eggs more often or is it okay if they freeze out there if I don't find them right away? I'm checking once a day right now.
Also, what are my options for keeping their water from freezing? I have a great waterer that I love made from a 5 gallon bucket and side-mounted poultry nipples. The waterer has a black lid and the coop has a clear roof so it did pretty well up to this point not freezing solid. This cold snap has proven frustrating though. Yesterday I had to bring it inside to thaw and replaced it with a regular water bowl in the interim. I hated that they had to dip their waddles in the water to get a drink, plus they got the water dirty within minutes. We have a aquarium heater and cut a hole in the top of the bucket for it, but then DH pointed out that it would run constantly since the water would never be able to maintain even the lowest heat setting, it wouldn't take long for it to burn out. What are our other options? could I use some type of heated stand/pad under the bucket if the bucket is plastic? Anything I can pick up easily at TSC or order on amazon?