Keeping Warm on Cold Days

A few weeks ago we experienced below normal subzero temps here in Ohio. We moved the geese and the duck to a straw filled stall in the barn. They complained regularly about their temporary lodging, but sometimes they must do what they don’t want to do for their own sake.

On the windiest and coldest days the mule was also kept begrudgingly locked in the barn. And the chickens were happily stowed away in their coop.

As far as keeping everyone’s water free flowing, heated buckets and water bowls from Rural King and Tractor Supply Company proved very effective at -10 degrees. See our previous post “Tip: How to Keep Water Thawed in Winter”  for more information.

Tip: How to Keep Water Thawed in Winter

Rural King was the place to shop this year for our winterizing water supplies. Here is a list of supplies that we obtained for our animals. If you click on the picture, it will take you to Rural King’s website for more information on the products. So far the heated buckets have worked perfectly with dipping temps in the lower 20’s.

Rural King: Farm Innovators Heated 2 Gallon Bucket HB60

Rural King: Farm Innovators Heated 2 Gallon Bucket

The ducks and geese got a new 2 gallon heated water bucket and a 2 gallon black rubber shallow dish. The heated bucket holds over 2 gallons and is the perfect size for the geese and my larger ducks to get their whole heads in for a dip, which is important for their daily grooming needs. My thoughts behind the black rubber bowl is that it may catch some of the energy from the sun and keep the water liquid in the day time. The bowl does get ice in it at night but its easy to force out of the pliable sides and bottom and refill in the morning. We will see to what daytime temperature it is still successful in keeping the water liquid.

Rural King: Farm Innovators 120W Flat Back 5 gallon Heated Bucket

Rural King: Farm Innovators Flat Back 5 gallon Heated Bucket

For the mule we purchased a 5 gallon heated bucket the actually holds more like 6 gallons. You can feel the warmth near the bottom of the outside of the bucket. The picture shows it in blue but the store only had green available which was perfectly fine for us. We chose not to hang it in her stall and placed it on the floor instead. Her other larger unheated bucket is also still accessible to her for now.

Rural King: Farm Innovators 1-1/2 Gallon Heated Round Pet Bowl Green

Rural King: Farm Innovators 1-1/2 Gallon Heated Round Pet Bowl Green

For the dog and cat to share on those icey days and nights, we got the heated pet bowl. It actually holds closer to 2 full gallons of water.

The one purchase that I was very unhappy with is the heated base that I bought to go under the metal poultry fount in the chicken house. The second night after it was installed, the water froze solid in the bottom tray. It should have been good to about 10 degrees but the temp was only in the 20’s. I had to come up with another solution given that it is only November and we have colder temps coming. My solution was to hang two heat lamps in the chicken house near the metal water fount. One has a white 125 watt heat lamp and the other a red 250 watt heat lamp. My theory is: during the day I plan to use white light in the hen house to give them extra light and warmth and in return keep the water thawed and hopefully get extra eggs to boot. At night around 8 or 9 pm, I will switch over to the red light so they have a more soothing light for sleep. With colder night time temps, the higher wattage will help keep the water thawed. We will see how this plays out. Last night was the first night with this set up and so far so good.

*Update*

The heated buckets have performed amazingly even with below normal subzero weather here in Ohio. Our setup with the heat lamps and metal water fount in the chicken house did not fair as well. We removed the frozen metal fount and placed a 2 gallon black rubber water bowl under two 250 watt infrared heat lamps. This setup proved most successful even in -10 degree weather! The black rubber must have radiated the heat from the heat lamps efficiently enough to keep the water thawed. The heat from the heat lamps also took a little chill out of the coop and helped to protect frostbite susceptible combs and wattles. Thankfully, we experienced very minor issues with frost bite throughout the cold snap.

Easy Peasy Brooder Box

You can make a cheap and easy brooder box out of three large moving boxes sold at Lowes. First take two of the moving boxes and slit them both down one corner. Then duct tape the two boxes together to make one huge box. Close the flaps on the bottom. It should now look a little like a refrigerator box. Secure all weak and movable areas with the tape. The end of your brooder box should be the widest side of the original rectangle moving box. Make a solid bottom for the brooder box by cutting a large section from the third moving box. Cut to fit snugly the floor of the brooder box.

For the first week or two turn the top flaps inward to help make cleaning a breeze. Tape the flaps up to make the sides taller when the chicks start trying out their wings. After about 2 weeks, I covered most of our box with a large window screen from our office window.

Hang the brooder lamp above one end of the box by a large hook and use wire clips to hold it secure. Raising and lowering the lamp gives more or less heat to the chicks as needed. Line the bottom of the box with a shallow covering of pine shavings. Place a thermometer directly under the lamp on top of the pine shavings. For the first week your thermometer should read 95 degrees, the second 90 degrees, the third 85 degrees, and the forth 80 degrees. Place water at the opposite end of the box from the light and food at about the middle of the box. Offering a small container of chick grit is also a good idea as they are growing.

This large broader box gives the chicks plenty of room for exercise, elbow room to help settle disputes, and a way to get away from the heat if they are too hot.

Below is a picture of our brooder box after a few weeks of use. It doesn’t look as crisp and nice as when we first made it but at least it gives you an idea of what is described above.

Cheap and Easy Brooder Box

Inside of Brooder Box

Older chicks with flaps of brooder box up to make box taller.

First Chicks

Young chicks with flaps of brooder box folded in. Easy clean.