Solve this winter problem

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by polychickens, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. polychickens

    polychickens In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2007
    We are planning a family vacation after the first of the year, but have nobody to tend to the 45 chickens. At best, someone will be able to come once, maybe twice in nine days, and I am needing a plan to have food/water in place even if that falls thru.

    The food is easy enough. My feeder would hold 30#, so I buy a second one and I'm good.

    It is the water that worries me, and only because it will need to be heated in a failsafe way. I'll need to find a container for at least 20 gallons (now drinking 2 gal/day), and I am wondering how to heat this...and not just the base.

    I have electric and water to the coop, and I am willing to do some additional wiring as needed. My plan needs to be up and running ASAP as we leave in 3 weeks so there is little time for trial/error. Suggestions?? Thank you.
  2. picklespickles

    picklespickles Songster

    Oct 27, 2007
    personally, my biggest concern would be checking on them in case of predators. do you have a neighbor who could just poke their head in and make sure they're not dead even if they can't feed them?
  3. polychickens

    polychickens In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2007
    They are adequately protected in the coop, but no, there isn't a neighbor to do this.

    I worry more that they will be without water due to freeze than anything. I need a solution that will provide several days worth of water during hard freezing conditions.
  4. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Songster

    Jul 5, 2007
    upstate New York
    Geez, in this case I'd pay someone. There must be a neighborhood kid or someone who needs some cash. I can't think of a way to make it safe for 9 days without supervision. Maybe buy several heated waterers so that there's always a water source even if one or two kick out? Or farm them out temporarily till you get back? [​IMG]
  5. BJ

    BJ Songster

    Mar 20, 2007
    check a garden store or the farm store for a bird feeder heater or a pond heater. They submerse in the water and keep it from freezing. Maybe something like that would work?
  6. jjthink

    jjthink Crowing

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    I would pay someone to come in at least daily. I have trouble finding competent and willing help so I don't go away much but when I do I hire someone to come in twice daily.
  7. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Songster

    Apr 5, 2007
    We have a light (brooder lamp really, with a 100watt light bulb in it) hanging in our henhouse, over the water. Temps outside have dipped to 9 degrees F, and so far it hasn't frozen (is well insulated though with R19 insulation LOL!). Even accidently left the popdoor open on one of those bitterly cold nights and it still didn't freeze. Although.. with my setup alone for 9 days.. I might be worried that the light would get knocked over and start a fire. How about a heated doggy dish, or a heated base to set the waterer on? They are a bit expensive at my local feedstore ($54), but might be worth it to see that your girls are taken care of.

  8. twhudson

    twhudson In the Brooder

    May 24, 2007
    I have a set-up that might work. I took a blue plastic 55 gal drum and put a nipple drinker system to it. I then wrap a heating cable (what folks use to put on the pipes during the winter to keep them from freezing) around the drum and along the PVC pipe that the nipple drinkers are on. I only have 15 hens on this, but the drum only needs refilling about once every 5 weeks. The drum is then wrapped with R13 insulation to keep the heat in. The cable only gets to about 45 degrees. I have had temps below 20 for several weeks and never had it to freeze.
  9. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    They sell a waterer heater at Tractor Supply that is used for animal buckets - you can submerse in the container, rather than a heater that goes under the base.

    Had a pretty good sized one there the other day for around $50.

    I'd still see if there isn't a pet sitting service that would come by and check on them at least every other day....
  10. I would call the local high school (quickly!!!) and ask if there is a 4H club there; one of the 4Hers should be happy to be hired help.

    If no 4H club, I would ask the receptionist if she could recommend a good, reliable, hard-working student.

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