Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Trees protect chickens from predators

Chick running awayI was watching our Light Sussex chicks forage in the garden when...out of the blue...a hawk swooped down on top of them.  Chicks scattered everywhere, I screamed in anguish, our scaredy cat ran for cover --- quite the excitement for our quiet little farm.  I think the combo was just too much for the Sharp-shinned (or was it a Cooper's?) Hawk because he missed his prey and flew on down the powerline cut and out of sight.

Except for losing chicks to rats, we've never had any trouble with predators on our farm.  I've always given credit to our well-trained dog, who patrols the perimeter day and night, but I think I should also consider the fact that forest pastures have more going for them than whatever food the trees produce.  Those trees shield our flock from avian predators.  Our open garden is much more like a traditional pasture, with no cover for the chicks to hide in and no canopy to shield our tasty morsels from birds of prey soaring overhead.  Small wonder that our near miss occurred when the chicks got bold enough to try out this open habitat.

I wrote previously that chickens are much more likely to go out on pasture if trees and bushes are present, and I can't say I blame them.  I wonder if the reason our laying flock refused to forage in the oat and pea pasture was because it was suddenly a wide open expanse with no tall weeds to protect them?  Yet another data point to add to the mix as I design the optimal chicken playground.

Our chicken waterer is an essential ingredient, providing happy chickens with clean water.

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The coopers are really bad this year, I lost 4 chickens this summer to them; 2 young pullets, a very young cockerel, and my dominant (bantam) rooster. Our pasture has no bushes and only a few sparse trees, I planted a fig that I think will be a nice hiding spot when it gets bigger. For now I stacked several hay bales in random spots around the pasture for them to dive into.
Comment by Athena at noon on Friday, October 28th, 2011
That's awful! Good idea with the hay bales. When I was reading up on large-scale pasturing setups, I saw that several places were making "artificial trees" that were just small roofed areas that chickens could dive under. Something like that might help until your trees grow up.
Comment by anna late Saturday afternoon, October 29th, 2011

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