A Unique Way To Cool Off Your Chickens

When temperatures start to soar in the summer, you need to find ways to keep your chickens cool.  Make sure there is plenty of water available to your girls.  High moisture treats like watermelon can go a long way to cool off chickens.  When it gets really hot, I start using the freezer to help keep the chickens happy.  One thing our birds like is frozen corn.  I’ll take a can of corn and empty it into a piece of tupperware, freeze it and pop it out and give it to the birds.  It takes a while to get a piece of corn, but helps cool them off and keeps them occupied.  Ice cubes in their water helps quite a bit.  Lately we came up with a unique and easy way to implement this by freezing their water bottle…

Cool Off Your Chickens With A Freezable Waterer

We have a bunch of nipple waterers for the chickens all over the yard.  Their main source of water is a gravity fed system that I posted instructions to here.  In addition to this we have smaller individual bottles here and there.  It seems like the birds almost prefer the individual bottles outside the run.  One of the easiest things to do is to get a plastic bottle of water and install the poultry nipple in the actual bottle cap, drill a hole on the bottom of the bottle and hang it upside down.  I like to hang these in bicycle water bottle holders mounted in various places.  Here’s a few pictures:

water bottle chicken waterer

water bottle chicken waterer

Here’s the sweet part….we have a few bottles and use a regular bottle cap and freeze a half full bottle of water.  Make sure the water doesn’t leak out the hole in the bottom while it freezes, pull the frozen bottle out of the freezer and switch the cap to the nipple cap.  Top the bottle off with water and you’re good to go!

cool off chickens

 

Gravity Fed DIY Chicken Waterer

gravity fed diy pvc chicken waterer

I’m not sure what to call this-a poultry waterer, pvc waterer, gravity fed pvc waterer, automatic chicken waterer?  How about we just call it a chicken waterer with some nice advantages…

After raising chickens for a while, most people realize the benefit of getting the waterer off the ground of the chicken coop.  By having the water source above your chicken’s head, the water stays cleaner (no poop or bedding in the water) and doesn’t get knocked over and all over the coop.  Almost all chickens can be trained to use a poultry nipple waterer-a screw in nozzle found at most feed stores that screws into pvc pipe or the bottom of a plastic bucket and lets water flow when the nozzle is pecked at.  Chickens are attracted to the bright red color and learn how to use them in no time.  I installed a gravity fed watering system for our birds that uses poultry nipples in pvc pipe being fed from a food grade 3 gallon bucket.  It holds enough water for several days at least and has the advantage of being able to disassemble completely for cleaning.

Chicken Waterer Parts List

For this project I used:

  • 2 nipple waterers (enough for 6 birds)
  • 3/4 inch pvc pipe
  • 3/4 inch pvc endcap
  • 3/4 inch pvc threaded connector
  • Pvc cement
  • Food grade square bucket with lid
  • Threaded brass faucet
  • A bulkhead fitting
  • A section of garden hose and threaded fittings
  • teflon tape

All my couplers were 3/4 inch to accommodate standard garden hoses.  The bucket I used was square which made for an easy installation of the bulkhead on the vertical sidewall.  I’m not too sure if mounting the bulkhead/faucet assembly on the side wall would work on a standard 5 gallon bucket because of the curve of the bucket.  You could mount it on the flat bottom of the bucket if you had a way to hang the bucket from above.  Through researching food grade buckets online, I discovered that all plastic containers labeled HDPE are food grade.  This can ease your mind if you can’t verify if a container is food grade or not.

Chicken Waterer Assembly

pvc poultry waterer

I used a drill press at my work to cut the appropriate hole in the bucket with a large paddle bit.  After marking the pipe, I drilled the holes for the screw in poultry nipples.  The drill press and a sharp brad point drill bit allowed me to get the holes and consequently the nipples in line.

I used a bolt with the same basic thread pitch as the nipples to start a thread in the holes of the pvc pipe.  Once I could start the poultry nipple in the pvc, I wrapped the threads with some teflon tape and screwed them into the pvc pipe with a crescent wrench:

poultry nipple diy waterer

After gluing the end fittings on with the pvc glue, the actual watering assembly was complete:pvcpolutrynipple

The bulkhead basically screws in place:

bucket chicken waterer

A little teflon tape and the faucet gets screwed onto the bulkhead:

chicken waterer

I cut a section of garden hose and attached the appropriate couplers and basically screwed the whole thing together.

bucketchickenwaterer

I wired up the pipe in the coop temporarily since our chickens aren’t full grown yet.  When they are all grown, I’ll make a more permanent mounting system.  I placed the bucket on a cinder block so it was higher than the pipe and let gravity do its thing:

gravity fed diy pvc chicken waterer

Here is a link to my previous post on the chicken coop.  There second video contains a quick shot of the waterer in action.  Our coop is coming along nicely and we are enjoying every minute of it!

Fun With Backyard Chickens

Fun With Backyard Chickens

We’ve talked about raising chickens at our house on and off for years now.  Every spring, the subject comes up around Easter.  As I became more aware of the health benefits of pastured eggs, I started to seriously  consider raising chickens in my backyard.  Besides access to the healthiest eggs I could get, we’ve heard stories from other chicken raising friends of how rewarding raising chickens can be.

We had an old outdoor birdcage with a cedar shake roof in the backyard that I thought we might be able to repurpose into a coop.  After checking it out, the roof was the only thing worth saving and a coop was designed around the existing roof.  We decided on a condo style coop-a 2 level coop with a roosting area above an enclosed run.  An additional enclosed run would be added onto the structure at a later date before our chickens were full grown.  To conserve space, I decided upon an exterior nesting box for our birds to lay their eggs in.   As the coop was nearing completion, it was time to get some chicks…

Backyard Chickens:Baby Chicks In The Brooder

In early April we brought home five baby chicks.  We settled upon three Rhode Island Reds and two Golden Sexlinks.  These should be good all around birds in terms of personality, adaptability to weather and very productive egg layers.  We kept them inside in a makeshift brooder consisting of a large storage tote with a hardware cloth lid.  After about a week, we transitioned to pine shavings for bedding inside our brooder and quickly moved to a hanging feeder and waterer.  For the first week, the chicks were on paper towels and clean up was quick and easy.  Once we  transitioned to pine shavings, they got everywhere including in the water and food.  Chicken poop started getting in these as well.  I made a hanging waterer out of a nalgene bottle and a nipple waterer you can find at feed stores.  Getting your birds’ food and water off the ground is essential from all I’ve read and it really helps cut down on extra cleaning and refilling.

Chickens and cat on brooderOur cat loved watching the babies…

The Coop Gets Finished

After several weeks, it was obvious the chicks were going to need to go out in the coop before they got all their feathers since space was starting to become an issue.  The night time temperatures were a little too cold for the chicks, so they were going to need a heat lamp at night.  I wanted to have an outlet inside our coop eventually for the winter time, but now I was forced to come up with a solution before the coop was inhabited.  I ended up running electricity from our garage to the coop and ran conduit inside the coop (no pecking the wires!).  I also used totally enclosed plastic housings for the ground fault interrupter receptacle as chicken waste will eventually rot metal housings.  To minimize dust at the receptacle, I installed an in-use cover.  We painted the coop to match the house, and I installed a beautiful fused glass window in the door to the coop that Mrs. Wellinformedliving had made.  Here’s a picture of the finished coop:

Chicken Coop Backyard Chickens

A close up of the art glass window:

Backyard Chickens Art Glass Window

A view from inside the coop:

20160417_144244

Here’s a view of the inside, you can see the GFCI on the left, one of the roosts in the back and one of the water bottle waterers.

Backyard Chickens Chicken Coop

And the coop at night:

backyard chickens chicken coop at night

backyard chickens chicken coop at night wellinformedliving.com

The chicks have been in their new home for several weeks now and have adapted quite well.  They have learned to use the ramp between levels and their new gravity feed watering system.  As they grow and get older we’ll remove the heat lamp and give them some outside free range time each day.  All in all this has been an extremely rewarding experience so far.

backyard chickens wellinformedliving.com

(Our cat is watching from the plant bed)

Egg Nutrition And The Health Benefits Of Eggs

food-316412_1280Eggs are an extremely dense source of nutrition you should consider.  They are quick,convenient, and can be prepared many ways.  With the recent suggestion of the  Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee,  the myth that eggs are bad for you can start to fade into the past.

Egg Nutrition And The Health Benefits Of Eggs

Let’s start out with eggs nutrition and then we’ll get to the calories in an egg.  The protein in eggs is outstanding at 6.3 grams for one large egg.  This egg protein is also quickly absorbed by the body (1.5 to 3 hours) and contains over 17 amino acids.  Eggs score pretty high in vitamins D, A, Riboflavin and B12 .  They are high in minerals as well with one egg providing 28% of the DRI of selenium and 18% of your daily iodine needs.  There are approximately 78 calories in one egg.

Eggs are very high in choline.  One large egg contains up to 35% of the Daily Recommended Intake suggestions.  Choline is considered an essential nutrient.  It was once thought the body manufactured all the choline it needed, but current research is proving we need additional choline supplementation to our standard western diet.  Choline is a methyl donor, meaning it helps support methylation-one of the most basic processes of life. Building DNA, nerve signaling, and liver detoxification are just some of the body’s activities that use methylation.  Choline helps keep cell membranes fluid.  Choline is also the precursor of acetylcholine which is responsible for basically powering your nervous system.  It keeps your heart beating, and is necessary for telling the muscles in my fingers to contract so I can type this post.  A study posted in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition basically stated that  higher choline intake is “related to better cognitive performance”.  Choline intake has the ability boost your memory and learning as you age.

Eggs are fairly high in cholesterol, a fact that led many to believe that limiting your egg intake would help lower cholesterol levels in the body.  Eggs were fairly stigmatized until recently when in early 2015 the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a government panel that meets every five years, dropped the recommendation that Americans limit intake of dietary cholesterol such as eggs or shrimp.  They changed the recommendation based on research that states that dietary cholesterol has little or no effect on blood cholesterol for most.  In an article on the New York Time’s blog: 

““For many years, the cholesterol recommendation has been carried forward, but the data just doesn’t support it,” said Alice H. Lichtenstein, the vice chairwoman of the advisory panel and a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University.

Dr. Krauss said that some people experience a rise in blood cholesterol after eating yolks and other cholesterol-rich foods. But these “hyper-responders” are such a minority — roughly a few percent of the population — that they do not justify broad restrictions on cholesterol intake.”

Add to this the fact that the human brain is 60% fat with around 25% being cholesterol.  Cholesterol is also used to insulate nerves much like the insulation on copper wires prevents wires from shorting out.

In addition to the committee’s recommendations are other studies that are reporting that there is insufficient evidence for dietary fat guidelines put in place in the UK and the United States.  Eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation busting fat that is low in the western diet.

Fresh Eggs vs Store Bought

Check in most grocery stores and you’ll find some high omega-3 eggs for sale.  Basically the hens that lay these eggs are fed feed high in flaxseed which is high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Factory farming of egg laying chickens is not necessarily the ideal environment to produce a quality egg.  In fact, because of the poor conditions of egg “factories”, most workers have to wear masks to avoid breathing dust contaminated with bacteria and feces.  Store bought eggs tend to have more bacteria on the eggshell than a fresh one.  Its not a stretch of the imagination to question the freshness of flaxseed (which is apt to go rancid because of its high oil content).  This isn’t going to produce the highest quality egg.  It’s unnecessary as well.  All eggs have omega-3 fatty acids.  In fact, [Tweet “…eggs from home raised or pastured chickens contain two to ten times more omega-3 than store bought”]  They also contain 2/3 more vitamin A, twice as much vitamin E and three to six times the vitamin D of store bought.  Pastured eggs are the way to go if you are looking for optimal nutrition.  Local farms, farmer’s markets and even health food stores are great places to purchase pastured eggs.  You might even consider raising your own.  Raising chickens for eggs in an urban setting has been rising steadily for years.  They are fairly easy to keep and the thrill of a morning fresh egg is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Cooking Eggs

There are so many ways to cook eggs from simple frying and scrambling to fancy frittatas.  One of my first ways to perfect eggs was how to hard boil eggs:

Place eggs in a pan with cold water an inch above the eggs.  Heat on high until the water boils.  Remove from heat, cover and let sit ten minutes.  Transfer the eggs to cold water or pour cold water in the pan to stop the cooking process.

Another favorite way to prepare eggs is baked eggs.  Here’s my take on the popular baked egg in an avocado.  You get all the health benefits of eggs plus fiber and additional omega-3s from the avocado.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Halve an avocado, remove the pit.  Remove a small amount of flesh to accommodate an egg.  I like to mush the bottom of the avocado slightly so it has a flat spot to rest on in the pan.

bakedegg

Crack an egg into a small bowl and pour into the hole in your avocado.  I like to place some onion and pepper I sliced thin with a mandoline in the hole before the egg.

I usually top with a little cheese since everything goes great with cheese.

bakedeggcheese

Place in an oven safe pan, dish, whatever and bake for 10 to 15 minutes-basically when the white sets to your liking, its ready.

bakedeggcheesedone

Eggs are pretty incredible when you consider the health benefits they pack into their high nutrients and the many delicious ways to prepare them.  From helping to reduce inflammation to boosting your memory, eggs are food for health.