Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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do chickens like bannanas?

I've often wondered why our chickens don't like bananas and then I saw this video on Youtube and decided most chickens could care less about a banana.

Image credit goes to Youtube user CaptureRapture.

Posted early Friday morning, August 1st, 2014 Tags:
Chicken yard

EZ MiserMike and Lesley in Washington state wrote in to say, "We are very pleased with your Avian Aqua Misers, both the small and large sizes.  It has been over 100 degrees for the last few weeks and the chickens are all staying hydrated.  We have the small waterer close to their shade spot so they can stay in the shade during the heat of the day."

Their flock consists of 5-month-old Rhode Island Reds --- fourteen hens and one rooster.  "The rooster just learned to crow this week," the duo reported.  "The fenced yard keeps them safe from the raccoons and skunks that we have plenty of out here. We trapped three skunks last week, our neighbor trapped 24 during the month of June."

Mike and Lesley wrote in to share their photos as part of our EZ Miser photo contest.  You still have over a week to enter, so don't forget to bring your camera out to the chicken yard and snap some shots!

Posted early Thursday morning, July 31st, 2014 Tags:
close up of me working on chicken tractor

We did some repairs to our 4 year old chicken tractor recently.

The next one we make will have a special trap door to make adding kitchen scraps easier along with a holder for a 2 gallon EZ Miser bucket.

Posted early Wednesday morning, July 30th, 2014 Tags:
EZ Miser waterer in chicken pasture

Our EZ Miser is a bit over a year old --- time for a contest showing Mark's newest invention in action!  If you've bought either our EZ Miser kit or our premade EZ Miser, we want to see how your chickens have taken to their waterer.  Have you plugged our EZ Miser spouts into the side of a rain barrel or taught your show birds to drink?  Perhaps you've come up with a unique mounting method like the Christmas tree stand above?  As usual, we'll judge based on both beauty and ingenuity, so whip out those cameras and get your entries in ASAP!

The prizes: One first-place winner will receive our chick bundle --- two premade chicken waterers perfect for getting chicks off to a good start, or for keeping your adult flock hydrated, a $90 value.  The second-place winner will choose between a 2 pack EZ Miser kit or a 5 pack Avian Aqua Miser original kit with drill bit.

The fine print: All entries must reach my inbox (info@avianaquamiser.com) by Sunday (August 10) at midnight.  Be sure to send photos one at a time if they're larger than 2 MB apiece.  You can enter as many pictures as you want, but all of your photos will be merged into one entry.  All photos and text will become the property of Anna Hess, which means I might share them with readers via our blogs or books.
  Thanks in advance for sharing your shots!

Posted early Monday morning, July 28th, 2014 Tags:
cat playing with chicken

Can cats and chickens get along enough to play together?

I'm sure if you asked the cat he would say "chickens are fun!", but the story a chicken might tell would be more like "who the heck is this furry monster?".

Image credit goes to Dash and Mora.

Posted early Friday morning, July 25th, 2014 Tags:
Survivor chickens

Mark and I enjoyed a tour of the diverse Laughing Water Farm recently, and of course I was intrigued by the free-range chickens wandering here, there, and everywhere.  We didn't get a chance to see the Salatin-style egg-mobile, which had been dragged to a far pasture just the week before we came to visit, but there were still chickens wandering around the barns and outbuildings (along with a few eye-catching turkeys).

Pig barnI'm always on the lookout for which chicken breeds pull their weight under farm conditions, so I made a mental note that Australorps were winners there just like they are on our homestead.  However, I couldn't quite guess the breed of the small, cream-colored hen pictured above.  When asked, Antoinette replied, "Oh, she's a survivor."  Yep, that's probably the true homestead hen --- a mutt who manages to rustle up her own grub, raise some kids, and keep happily scratching through the deep bedding in the pig barn.

Posted early Wednesday morning, July 23rd, 2014 Tags:

Rain barrel and pullet eggI always get a kick out of the first pullet egg of the year.  In 2014, our young ladies started their productive careers at 18 weeks of age, seven days younger than when I wrote this post a couple of years ago about when to expect your first eggs.

I liked this shot because Mark captured our new rain barrel as well as the tiny egg.  Rain barrels aren't really chicken-related...except that this barrel has been primarily used for filling buckets of water to carry to the chicken coop.  It's astonishing how many steps a rain barrel can save over the course of just a few weeks.  If you're sick of carrying water, adding a rain barrel near (or on) your chicken coop can make your life much easier!

Posted early Monday morning, July 21st, 2014 Tags:
Ducks dining on duckweed

Around the beginning of July, it was as if a flip was switched within our little ponds --- the duckweed started growing like crazy!  Our ducks are too big to be worth moving back to the ponds to dine, so I figured --- why not bring the duckweed to them?  It only took me a couple of minutes to scoop up about a gallon of duckweed, tadpoles, and water bugs, and after the ducks realized the bucket wasn't going to bite, they dived in with relish.  Within minutes, every bit of greenery was gone.

Duck bucket

I wrote last week that our ducks are too lazy to produce good-quality eggs since they don't forage much.  However, my duckweed bucket suggests that I'm just not embracing the duckness of ducks (as Joel Salatin would say).  Although you can raise waterfowl on dry land, that's not the role they're best suited for.  Perhaps a bucket of duckweed a few times a week is a happy compromise that will keep our ducks healthy and make them a more sustainable part of the homestead?

Posted early Friday morning, July 18th, 2014 Tags:
feeding june bugs to chickens

What's a good way to feed June Bugs to chickens?

Fill a 5 gallon bucket half way with water. Place the bucket under a light and leave it all night. The next morning you should have 10 to 20 June Bug snacks ready to feed to your flock. Spill the bucket near your chickens and watch them get happy.

A few might get away, but most will be gobbled up before they can achieve flight.

Image credit goes to Wikipedia.

Posted early Wednesday morning, July 16th, 2014 Tags:
Duck and chicken standoff

After whittling down our replacement layer flock to a cockerel and three pullets, I decided to merge the chickens with our young ducks.  The starplate pastures where the young layer flock has been browsing is pretty barren at the moment, since the sward hasn't entirely developed yet and since lack of rain has slowed regrowth of what herbaceous plants do exist.  In contrast, the duck coop has three lush pastures around it, very little of which the ducks are deigning to eat and almost none of which the Cornish Cross broilers consumed.  Why not move the hens down to eat that greenery, and also save me from having to manage food and water in two separate coops?

Mark and I always move chickens at night, counting on the birds' inability to see in the dark to make the transition go smoothly.  Plus, if a hen wakes up inside a new coop, you often don't even have to shut her inside for a day to teach her that's her new roosting spot --- she just heads back inside the next night to eat and sleep.  I didn't count on how aggressive the ducks would be at having their slumber interrupted by gallinaceous interlopers, though.  The ensuing ruckus was so loud that I began to despair of the two flocks' ability to merge successfully, but I crossed my fingers and went to bed.

Chickens hanging out with ducksThe next morning, there was a standoff in the coop --- ducks on one end and chickens on the other.  When I opened the pophole to let them all out onto pasture, the rooster immediately took his harem up on the hill where ducks couldn't easily waddle, and he stood guard between his ladies and the terrifying waterfowl for hours.  However, when I dropped back by after lunch, a hen was walking between the ducks with no one batting an eyelash, and the other chickens were inside enjoying their repast --- a good sign for domestic tranquility to come.  Despite the initial drama, it's looking like merging a duck and chicken flock will be easier than putting two packs of unfamiliar chickens together.

Posted early Monday morning, July 14th, 2014 Tags:
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I just purchased your chicken nipples and bit, but I have a question since I'm new in the chicken world. Do chickens need direct sun almost all day to lay eggs or are they happy with a few hours in the morning and streams of sun through the trees. They are out in there pen from 8am until dusk.


Comment by suzanne roemer late Wednesday evening, July 27th, 2011

Especially in the summer, chickens will actually gravitate toward the shade. They do like to have some sunny spots for dust-bathing, and like more sun in the winter.

The longer the day length, the better your chickens will lay. But that doesn't mean they need to be in direct sunlight during that time, just that there needs to be enough light to keep them awake and active.

Comment by anna late Saturday afternoon, July 30th, 2011

My chickens go out of there way to try and find sources of the stuff, I have Styrofoam (polystyrene actually) insulating the outside of my package heat pump. They finally figured it out and have peck/eaten a large chuck out of one section, maybe 1 ft in diameter. They have found the stuff before, and they didn't seem to have any adverse affects, I try to keep them out of harms way. I assume they will be fine this time, and I have blocked them off from the area. but my question is, Should I eat the eggs? I have 2 buff orpingtons and a white silkie(the bad influence).They are known as betty white and the golden girls. the buffs had just started laying a few days ago. Any ideas?

Comment by David L at noon on Thursday, February 9th, 2012
I've heard from other people whose chickens go after styrofoam. I figure it can't be good for them, so I'd do my best to keep them away from it. As long as the chickens are healthy, though, I doubt it will affect the eggs, but I don't really know!
Comment by anna Thursday evening, February 9th, 2012
i have a week old chick that was doing fine until yesterday. Now he is not eating and just standing around or sleeping. I put him in a box by himself with a heating pad. I have been trying to get him to drink water with probiotics and electrolites. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Comment by Anonymous at teatime on Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Anonymous --- I'm so sorry to hear about your sick chick! Unfortunately, chicks sometimes just dwindle away, especially if they had some trauma in the egg or soon after hatching that didn't show up at the time. That said, solitary confinement in a warm place sometimes helps them bounce back, so it sounds like you're doing just the right thing.
Comment by anna early Sunday morning, June 24th, 2012
I cook for my chickens.I have four girls. in the morning they get laying food and cracked corn then I give then lettuce and bread they go gaga for it. in the afternoon they get a combo of rice flax seed sucker seed canned green beans. they don't get anything green in Michigan in the winter unless I give it to them. they never got the memo that they don't lay in the winter. their pen is protected and there is no snow in their pen i live my girls.i live in the city and have never had chickens before
Comment by Linda Monday night, March 25th, 2013
Linda --- Sounds like you've got happy chickens!
Comment by anna late Monday morning, April 1st, 2013

I was contemplating buying a hydroponic system for Fodder production (green forage) for my horses. With the rising, and unrelenting price of fuel to make the hay, hay has become very expensive ($5.50-7/bale)with NO end in sight. I wanted to be sure that my horses would eat this type of forage readily. I started to grow it in my DARK- no light available- cellar. Fodder can be grown without any light source, but it will be white and not green. I did, however, use a grow light for 2hrs/day. This made the fodder very green. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the water amount needed just right, but it worked. The animal consumes everything in the tray at the end of the week, seed casing, roots and all. There is no dirt, and the animals do LOVE it. Since fodder can be fed to ALL livestock, I fed to my ducks, chickens, and horses throughout the winter. basically as a treat, as I was only using seed starter trays, and my cellar isn't that big to have the number of trays I would need on a single layer all over my floor. ;) You need to soak untreated seed- Barley works the BEST! And, 85% of it is digestible, so they get a lot of good nutrition from the fodder, unlike hay which is 15% digestible. Protein levels of barley fodder equal that of corn, so you can save on feed! Steps- 1) soak seeds 15 minutes in 5 gallon bucket with 5% solution of bleach or peroxide:water ratio. You just need to make sure all the seed is covered. (you can use this solution to clean your trays after your seeds are soaked, so after the 1st day, don't throw it away. Literally, it takes only 10-15 minutes/day to maintain this feed source! 2) Rinse and fill up with only water- seeds need to soak 24hrs additional. 3) then drain again, after the 24hrs. 4) Place soaked seed inside your trays. 7lbs of DRY seed/day will fill a 12' long channel, and feed 4-6 horses and 100 chickens for the day. SO measure, and adjust the amount of seed you need, to account for how long your trays are and how many animals you need to feed. whether this is going to be your feed source, or if you are just giving them a treat. 50 for the 2nd day, I usually just use a spray bottle to water the seeds- enough to thoroughly soak them, but not enough for a lot of standing water. Then, spray every other day, put in 2cups water/tray every other day, starting on day 3. 5) Each day do a tray- with just enough for each days use. This gives you fresh fodder daily. Each tray takes 7 days to reach the right height. 6) Turn grow light on, if green fodder is wanted, for maximum of 2hrs/day. Materials needed: 5 gallon bucket; (2) 5 gallon buckets with lid are ideal! Spray bottle Water bleach or peroxide scrub brush to clean out trays before 1st use, and after every use to kill and inhibit fungi and mold growth 7 seed starter trays liquid cup measure SEED from seed distributor (online) and place to dry store seed. Garbage can with lid works great! Grow light bulb and brooder lamp works great! Spot where water run off/spillage won't damage property. I placed trays near our sump pump.

You can make your own feed, know what your chickens, ducks, and other animals are getting as a seed (you can be sure that there are no GMO's in your feed, and thus end up in your belly) And, they get fresh feed which they gobble up!

Comment by Heather Thursday afternoon, May 15th, 2014

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