Problems are inevitable, and sometimes we just put them off. When I had a problem with my chickens show up this week I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and take care of it.
In this episode I go through what is happening with my chickens, and why I need a new project for them.
I also go through the project, and what I hope it will accomplish. I really hope this solves a bunch of problems I am having in one go.
If you prefer to watch
Hello, and welcome to the 26th episode of the BudDIY Podcast. I am your host, Buddy Lindsey. Today we’re going to talk about solving problems on the farm with a new project. But before that, if you haven’t visited the website recently, feel free to do that at B-U-D-D-I-Y.net to see all the previous episodes that we have. If you’re on YouTube, feel free to hit that subscribe button and that notification bell so you know when new episodes are up. And we are available on all major platforms for podcasts. So you can give us a subscribe over there, just search for BudDIY, B-U-D-D-I-Y.
Let’s jump into the episode today. Normally I do three different segments. I do a what’s going on around here. I jump into the main topic. And then I finally land on a failure of the week. But today I am going to literally combine all three of those segments into one long segment because they are all the same thing in a sense. There was a failure and it’s kind of what I’ve been dealing with, and then it is the start of a new project that I have started on the farm. And we’ll hopefully release a YouTube video in the next couple of weeks on building out that project.
So let’s just jump into what’s going on. Well, I went on vacation last week, or I guess two weeks ago, and when I got back, I noticed that my chickens had been pecking at each other. One had like a main wing feather thing that was kind of broken off. One chicken kind of had feathers missing on the top of their head. I was like, “What’s going on? What just happened?” And also the egg production was really, really low. I think we got 11 or 12 eggs for the entire seven days that we were gone. And in all reality, I should have gotten probably five dozen eggs while we were gone, maybe even six, depending on how things went. So to have 11 eggs, it was like, what’s going on?
It took me a while to figure it out. At first, I thought it was it was just too hot and they just weren’t able to stay hydrated or something. That’s my main thing that I was going after, because it was a little warmer than it had been for the entire week. It was warm with no rain to kind of cool and soften everything down. And so I started down a project of building something to help solve that problem.
But later on in the week, I remembered something that happened when I got back. There was one of the scoops that I use to get food for the chickens was on the ground. I thought it had maybe fallen, but it also keyed me in that it’s quite possible that the person that I had come over, I wasn’t clear enough on my instructions on how much food to give them, and they were only giving them one scoop of food every day. And so all the chickens weren’t getting enough food, because I normally give them about two scoops and now they were getting half as much food and in the time that they were doing it, so they were getting stressed from that.
Then there’s not only that, but the water was a little dirtier than normal for them as well. Because we live on a dirt road and this is a main dirt road, so a lot of dust gets thrown up into air. And so it just landed in the water and was just kind of looking mucky. And I noticed the chickens, when it gets really bad, they don’t necessarily drink. So they were probably super stressed for a few days in there, if not more. And so they kind of were pecking at each other, doing things and not laying eggs. It just was a bad time.
And so I know next time I need to be more specific about how much food to give the chickens for that particular one. But then the other side was before I realized that I’m like, “I need to deal with the heat,” because the heat is not a lot of fun for chickens. They don’t necessarily like the heat. I guess I don’t like the heat either, but particularly, if it gets too hot and they aren’t taken care of right, they can die. So I needed to figure out something to do.
The other side is their water. I hate dealing with their water. It’s something that I do, and I’ve always been like, “Hey, I need to solve this problem,” but it was never a big enough problem in a sense. And I’ve never found a solution that I like the best, that solves multiple problems at one time for the chicken. Especially since I move them around on our property every couple of weeks.
So with all of that information in mind, so those are literally some of the failures that happen and kind of some of the stuff I’ve been dealing with a lot for the last week while I’ve been dealing with work, and we also had a funeral for my grandma as well. So I’ve not really had a lot of time. But in that, I planned a new project and actually started this past over the weekend. I’m waiting on a couple of things on order to actually finish it, but I think I’m going to call it something like the mobile chicken cooling station or something like that.
Basically what it is, is I feel like there’s not necessarily enough shade with the mobile coop. Which is awesome, the Chickshaw does provide a lot of shade. But I also would like another area of shade that’s not necessarily right under where they sleep at night. And so I’ve always wanted to build something, but I’ve not really been known what to build. Then the other thing that as well is I wanted to change how they do water. And then I want to give them ice and other things. So I haven’t known what to do, and this week I have actually gone ahead and I planned out a project and started it, and I’m going to go over some of that with you. But first I want to kind of hit some of the background of dealing with chickens.
One of the things that I’ve kind of hinted on, but I want to call out explicitly is that you can tell if your chickens are getting too hot in the summer, if they start panting really, really, really heavily. Just normal panting like… If they get deep, deep panting that can be bad and that can lead to a lot of problems and they can get super stressed out over that.
Another one is if they’re opening their wings and kind of walking around with their wings wide open and trying to get more airflow, it’s probably means they’re too hot. It’s not as bad as the really heavy panting, but it’s like, hey, they’re getting uncomfortable and you need to try to do something to help lower their body temperature. If they’re doing it at like 4:00 in the afternoon, when it’s the hottest part of the day and literally in an hour it’s going to cool down some for them, you might not necessarily need to worry about it as much. But when it’s like 100 degrees at noon and it’s going to be 102 by 4:00, it’s time to start thinking about doing something. And all my solutions in the past I haven’t really liked when I try it, or it’s a lot of maintenance and/or it’s just weird to deal with.
But the final thing is if they do get too hot and too uncomfortable, the heat will lower their egg production, kind of like I mentioned earlier, and that’s another way to check signs if they aren’t as easy to tell on the visible signs. And depending on how stressed they are from the over excessive heat, they could start pecking at each other as well. But that’s not necessarily a big indicator of heat, it’s just longterm stress.
So the next thing is based on that, how are some of the ways that you can help keep your chickens cool? Well, one of the big ones is provide shade. Make sure they have plenty of shaded area. Another thing is provide an opportunity for them to bathe. Chickens like to bathe in dust baths. Oftentimes they’ll normally dig a hole and kind of get into the hole, and that hole is cold because it’s in the earth compared to outside. And so they’ll do their dust bath and they’ll be in the hole, and it’ll help kind of cool their body temperature down as well. Or one of the ways you can do is you can provide a dust bath area as well. It just kind of depends on how you do it, but that’s one of the ways that they cool themselves down.
Another thing that you can do is you can go buy fruits and then you can actually freeze them and then throw them out during the day for them to actually peck at. They enjoy the treat, and then it’s also cold, so it helps lower their body temperature as well. Their favorite one generally is watermelon. My chickens were like, “What is the stuff?”, the first time I threw it out. But the second day I threw out some watermelon, man, they were all over it. And they were a little annoyed it was still frozen. But that’s another way to help kind of lower their body temperature and keep them comfortable throughout the day.
And then finally is probably one of easiest, but kind of annoying too to do continuously is putting ice in their water and keeping it in there long enough for it to actually have an effect. But ice water will help lower their body temperature or at least provide something cool and help reduce the stress on them while they’re a little bit warm.
So with that in mind, I needed to design something that I could move around that would be portable, that would solve many of my problems. And I think I came up with a pretty decent solution. It’s going to be a thing that I put out there that is actually kind of like a platform. It’s something that I can expand on later and do other potential things to help deal with the chickens. It’s actually, it’s like a mobile cooling station in a sense. I can’t think of a better term for it, but the goal is to help cool chickens down or keep them cool. And that’s why I’m calling it the mobile chicken cooling station.
But basically what it is, is it’s about 40 inches tall. Or no, sorry. It’s about 46 inches tall, and it’s kind of a lean-to. It’s kind of like an A frame type thing with half of the A gone, and it goes most of the way to the ground. There’s a little open area underneath to allow air circulation underneath. And that is going to face directly south, that slanted part, so it provides maximum amount of shade to the area, and then water can drain off as well.
The other thing I have is in the front supporting the top, I have two four by fours. And then the thing is about 45 inches wide. On both four by fours, I am going to put some four inch PVC pipe facing towards the north. Then I’m going to connect both of those two pieces of PVC pipe with a half inch PVC pipe between the two. And I’m going to put water nipples in them for the chickens to drink out of. Then all I have to do from there is I pull the cap off of the PVC pipe, pour some water in there. It should hopefully hold three to five gallons, depending if I get my sizes right, and now I have a clean way to continuously give them water because there’s not going to be any open areas for the dirt to get into. And so now I’ve solved the clean water problem that I’ve been wanting to solve for a while.
The biggest hiccup in this is I have to figure out how to train the chickens to use the water nipples instead of the bucket of water, effectively, that I’ve been using currently. I think it’s going to be possible, it’s just going to be a little bit of a frustration for a little bit, trying to get them to do that.
The next feature that I have going on is I’m going to provide a couple of roosts for them so they can kind of jump up and get up into the air, so when there is some actual wind that’s blowing, more of them can get into the air and get more air circulating around them as well. And then one of the features of the slant that I have is I’m trying to take into account the sun, the solar aspect of the sun in that it’s going to be beaming a certain direction and PVC pipe doesn’t necessarily last a very long time out in the sun. And so if I can have shade, UV protection for most of the day, it should allow that PVC pipe to last longer. So it’s kind of an experiment. Literally, this project is an experiment to see if some of the ideas that I have actually work out.
And then one of my final things that I’m actually building, not to mention some of the ideas that I have, is that I have another set of PVC pipes that I’m using that I’m actually going to stick in the freezer to freeze water. The main PVC pipes for housing the water on the unit itself, on the mobile cart itself are four inches. And so I bought some three inch PVC pipe and put water in that, and I’ll put that in the freezer. And so now I can just circulate through basically giant ice cubes. Then all I have to do is go pull a couple out, go out to the chickens, unscrew the top, drop it into the four inch PVC pipe, because we know three inches is smaller than four inches, so it should just drop right in. And then, because it’s a giant block of ice, it should last longer and keep the water cooler instead of providing more surface area for the water to break down other ice cubes.
And based on chemistry, water stays 32 degrees as long as it’s in the transition state. So it’s either 32 degrees going cold or 32 degrees getting warmer, and since it’s a big block of ice and I’m putting two in there, it should keep all of that water at 32 degrees. We’ll see if that works, how well that works out. And so it should provide cool water for quite a while. At least that’s the experiment. We’ll see how that goes. But if nothing else, it is a cooler way, or it is a cleaner way to provide them water. The water will also be in the shade more often, so it will have less opportunity for the sun to beat down on it and heat up the water. It’ll just be ambient air that would heat up the water that’s out there. So it’s a lot better of a watering system and it’s a lot better of a shade system for it.
Now, the cool thing about this is I’m building it a little bit, not larger, but sturdy, and I’m building with a couple of specific things available. I’m running the slant all the way to the ground or most of the way to the ground, because one of the ideas that I have is some things that some people do to help keep their chickens warm or cool is they’ll put misters. And so one of my thoughts is I will run a hose over to it. I have to get a really long hose to come from our freeze hydrant, but I’ll run a hose over to it. And then if it gets really, really hot, I can install misters and plug in the misters at the bottom. It’ll run across, up and over and across the top and basically mist the area and provide an opportunity for it to cool the area and keep the chickens even cooler.
The other thing I can do is I can build another one as well to be able to put next to it or put in another direction, and provide a another form of shelter. Then I’ll be able to connect the two as well. And then finally, another thing that I want to do is if I have to run a hose, I can run a Y off of there, and it makes it easier to fill up the waters themselves. Because if I get that far and actually end up needing that, I want to try to figure out how to do some sort of water depth detection thing so that it can automatically keep the water at the same height or at the same level all the way through, and I shouldn’t, in a sense, really have to mess with water.
The final thing that I’m going to do with this mobile thing is put wheels on it so that I can move it around. The things that concern me about this project is will it be too light? I don’t know if it’s going to be too light and potentially be blown away in the wind, in a storm. It’s not as big as the Chickshaw. That thing has literally survived a tornado flying over it, so I know it’s not going anywhere. However, this thing is smaller and potentially lighter, so I don’t know how the effect of having high winds is going to be. So that’s something to pay attention to. I might need to provide some stakes. However, it’s not going to have wheels on it all the time. There’ll be removable wheels that I can just lay on the ground beside it and put back on what I need to, so that way there’s more surface area and more drag potential as well.
The other concern is, is it going to be awkward to pick it up based on ergonomics of the height of the thing? That’s not necessarily that big of a deal because I’ve only got to deal with it every time I moved the thing. And it’s only going to be used during the summer. So those are some of my concerns. We’ll see how it goes. There’s a few other grandiose ideas I have with this thing, but it’s only if some of these ideas work that I can move forward.
So with that, I mean, that’s really kind of what I’ve been up to this week. I started the project. It’s actually turned out to be a fairly simple project. I spent a lot of time in SketchUp, learned a few things about SketchUp, which was cool, and really trying to plan it through. I also went through the planning phase of how to actually assemble this thing.
So while I only had the morning on Saturday to deal with it, I was able to actually get quite a bit done, and I was really pleased with myself. I think it’s been really neat to do this project now, having done a bunch of more woodworking, because there are little things that probably would have tripped me up in trying to figure out that it just clicked. It was just there. I was like, “Oh, how can I make this square? How do I line this thing up?” And it’s like, “Oh, I have a square that I can go do. I can put it underneath and I can shove it against it, and now I can do that.” Instead, before I might try to do some kind of awkward thing.
Anyway, it’s been really neat to kind of get to do this project. And I could tell that my skills have improved as a woodworker and doing projects. Because in all honesty, if I didn’t only have the morning to deal with it, then I would have gotten the entire project done on Saturday. And that would have been totally amazing, except for the fact that I have some parts on order and those should be here this week. However, by the end of next weekend, it should be done and the chickens should be using it right in time for our next heat wave that we’re supposed to get. So I’m super excited about that.
It’s been an interesting week. I’ve enjoyed being able to solve several farm problems that I’ve had all in one go, and be able to experiment with a few things and really solve some of my failures. I felt bad that I haven’t been able to pay attention to the chickens and solve some of their problems as much as I wanted to the last couple of months. So I’m glad to solve some problems for them and solve some problems for me and just make everything a lot better.
So on that note, what are some things that you can do around your place that you’ve been putting off that could lead to potentially bigger problems? And what are some things you can do to kind of experiment and make a better solution than what you’ve seen out there? Because I’ll be honest, I have not seen this particular solution on the internet. I’ve seen bits and pieces from several locations, and I’m kind of just mashing them all together with some of my own thoughts and ideas on how things can work. So we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully this thing works out as good as I hope it does. If not, I know another way to not get some of the stuff done, so we’ll see.
On that note, I thank you for listening. We’re about halfway through the year, and I’ve been having a lot of fun doing this podcast. If you liked this podcast, please feel free to leave a review in your podcasting application so that more people can find us. I mean, it’s been a lot of fun and I’d like to continue to do this, and I’d like to continue to get your support. So just let me know what you think and what all there is. And on that note, I will let you know when I have the video done for this project. Have a good day.