Determining If The Ladies Get Enough Water

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by PeteTheSwede, Jul 12, 2016.

  1. PeteTheSwede

    PeteTheSwede Just Hatched

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    17 weeks ago, along with another family, we bought the same flock at the same place/time (8 chicks each). Their chickens started laying a few days ago but ours have yet gifted us with any. Granted it has only been a few days, so why would I be concerned?
    We have pretty much the same setup. Sure, we have a larger run and slightly larger coop, but I doubt that makes much of a difference in this instance. We feed them the same feed (Scratch and Peck brand) along with plenty of garden and kitchen "waste".
    However, ours have access to (on an almost daily basis), the backyard with fresh grass, trees, bushes, and other vegetation. I figured this additional access would make happier and healthier hens, and thus a slightly earlier egg laying than the other flock. But maybe this variable doesn't play into this at all.
    If the latter does not play a part in this, then there is one main difference between our setups. They use a 5 gallon bucket with nipples for watering (so did we for a month) but we have been using horizontal nipples with pvc pipes in a system that is attached to the house water line for a few months now (bought from backyardflock.com). I have seen them reluctantly peck at them and mostly I see them drink from a very slow leak (a drop every 10 seconds), so I'm not fully sure they get enough water. I do have a small container inside the coop with a nipple which they use in the morning before I let them out, and when we have 95+ f weather, I put out a 3 gallon container with ice cubes to make sure they have access to coldish water. The first week or so, a slight odor from the glue used when gluing the pvc pipes together oozed out with the water, so I properly flushed the system multiple times every day for a few weeks until I no longer could detect any smell. Could this have poisoned the hens somehow, or still poison them?
    Could the fact that they don't drink as much from the nipples cause the delay/difference in our flocks? I can't visually see if they get enough water or not, as in, they look and act very healthy, and never storm the additional water I put out. In fact, I've never seen them drink out of it.
    I'm not at all concerned with the fact that the other identical flock spits out eggs before us (the store is still open). I'm concerned that there is something with our flock that may cause them to delay the egg laying, and in this case, mainly the water intake. After all, their health comes first, and I want my ladies to continue to thrive and be able to catch anything that's wrong before it's too late.
    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Dehydration will definitely cause health issues.
    A nipple system shouldn't be completely closed or there will be a vapor lock that won't allow water to flow.
    Make sure all the nipples are producing sufficient water.
     
  3. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    If there is water available the chickens will get what they need, basically if they are not lined up all day 'trying' to get water from the nipples then they are almost certainly getting sufficient water from them when they do drink...

    And yes having access to and eating 'green' and or other already hydrated foods vs a diet of all dry feed will lower their water intake as their food already has some of the necessary water built in...
     
  4. PeteTheSwede

    PeteTheSwede Just Hatched

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    Like stated, the system is hooked up to the house, so there will never be an issue with water flow unless the city turns off my water or something breaks. The nipples are really easy to move with the finger and they let out as much water as I allow with the regulator. So the issue is not whether the system works or not, it's whether the ladies are using them frequently enough. However, they all act and look very healthy.

    I find it fairly odd that our flock is yet producing eggs seeing as our environment is slightly more advantageous than what the other identical flock have. But as long as no alarm bells are ringing and they are indeed healthy, then all is well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  5. ChickenJerk

    ChickenJerk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What about day length? Both now and as the birds reached maturity.
    Forage feeds are not as nutritious as complete feeds.
    When properly adjusted chickens will consume more water from a vertical nipple than a "pool". It is more efficient and easier for them to get the quantity they need. That is not to say that they prefer it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  6. PeteTheSwede

    PeteTheSwede Just Hatched

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    I use horizontal nipples for their main water. They have never had any issues with vertical ones when I used them in the past. As in, I rarely see them use the horizontal nipples whereas I saw plenty of action when we used the vertical ones.
    And daylength have no play in this since both flocks are located in the same town.
    They have full access to Scratch and Peck "Grower", just like the other flock, so they should have a very good diet since they eat plenty of that along with foraging and the treats we give them (BSF grubs, sunflower seeds, garden "waste" and so one.

    Like I said, the environments for these two flocks (and the flocks themselves) are pretty much identical besides the water system and our additional foraging capabilities.

    I'm simply surprised that the other flock started earlier than ours, since they have a slightly advantageous environment. Which is why I'm afraid of any health issues or variables that I can not see.
     
  7. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    On this, small differences can make for significant differences...

    Birds are individuals and thus they have their own personalities and physical traits... Sure the same breed has similar traits but they are not identical... Consider humans, there is roughly a 7 year range for when a women will start 'dropping' her eggs, that is a huge variance, this variance in chickens is smaller but it still exist between individuals...

    And when it comes to an environment and hens laying stupid small things can disrupt laying in big ways, stress from another bird in the flock, location, orientation and type of nesting boxes, layout of coop, roosting room, husbandry practices, exposure to outside stimulus like other animals, noise or whatever distubances etc can all have an impact on egg laying...

    There are so many issues that come into play that narrowing it down can be real hard...
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    If you let them out and put out a water fount and they crowd around it, they're not getting enough water. If they ignore it, they're fine.
     
  9. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    I beg to differ on this, my birds get plenty of water, I have no health or production issues with them that would suggest otherwise, but I guarantee you just the same, that anytime there is a 'new' open water available to them be it from me putting in a bowel/bucket, a left over puddle from an overnight rain or whatever they will swarm to it like they have not seen water in days just like they swarm the feeder every time I top it off even though they still had plenty of feed to eat in the feeder... And this doesn't only apply to those that use nipples, even when I used open waterers they did the same thing anytime a new open water source was shown to them, or even when I topped off the partially full waterers...

    In addition to this it's not secret that nipples are a convenience to us not them, they would much prefer open water as a convenience to them and will almost always jump at an open water option vs nipples if given the choice...
     
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  10. PeteTheSwede

    PeteTheSwede Just Hatched

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    One week after I last posted to the day, we received our first egg. Oddly enough, it came from the youngest of them (one of the flock is 1 day younger). Odd, not because after all, 1 day is nothing, but this little chicken have been the smallest throughout the entire time...until a month before laying. Then somehow she grew bigger than any other chicken. Funny how that goes.

    We have now at most received 5 eggs in one day which is very exciting. However, lately most of the birds have gotten dry fowl pox. As far as I understand, this came from mosquitoes. It's not severe in any of the birds though some are much more affected than others. I have not seen any new affected areas in the last week and all of the scabs are black and hopefully will fall off soon. But this week the production is down to 2 eggs a day so I'm hoping it's not because of the pox.
     

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