Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Chicks in tractors

Chicks eating weedsYou may remember that our seven day old chicks could just barely eat sourgrass and tick trefoil flowers and didn't have a clue what to do with compost worms.  One week later, they consumed a big handful of sourgrass down to the stems in just a couple of hours, so we decided they needed to start finding their own grub.

Chicken tractor

Chicks pecking at carpetIn the past, we've had trouble with losing such tiny chicks to predators when we put them out in the coop, so we had discussed doing some serious predator proofing with hardware cloth and shutting the chicks in at night for a while.  Then Mark came up with a better solution --- why not use one of our old chicken tractors to let the chicks enjoy pasture while living right outside our back door where we and our dog could keep a close eye on them?

The chicks heartily approved of their new quarters.  It took approximately 90 seconds for them to stop making scared chirps and move on to pecking up everything that moved.  The carpets Mark had used to line the back of the tractor were a favorite foraging spot --- I suspect a lot of insects had moved in during the year the tractor had been abandoned.  Inchworms and spiders also slid right down their gullets, and I even saw one chick doing his level best to get through a snail shell to consume the mollusc inside.

Chicks on pasture

Wet chicksUnfortunately, the skies opened three hours later and heavy rains sent the chicks scurrying for cover.  The sheltered part of the tractor --- perfect for adult chickens --- was too open for our half-feathered chicks, and they soon started piling on top of each other in distress. 

I scooped them all up and brought them back inside to spend another week or two in the brooder.  I guess two weeks old is too young for a chicken tractor except during pretty weather.

Our chicken waterer has kept our chicks healthy despite highs in the 90s.

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