Winterizing livestock -- Why doesn't anyone talk about this?

Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)November 25, 2005

Well, I do realize that I am exaggerating, but I am a bit frustrated. I don't seem to be able to find much info on what the small homesteader should do to bring critters through the winter in good condition.

Chickens... pretty much solved the problems there. They have a light on a timer and a heated water dish and when it gets really, really cold I attach the heat lamp to the timer as well. We've brought the chickens through two winters now and I am fairly confident that we have worked through most of the problems.

New this year are the rabbits and geese. Rabbits are great - docile, quiet and productive. But because the adults have individual cages, the problem of frozen water is very real. It is cost prohibitive to have a heated dish for each cage and I am not comfortable letting them go hours at a time with frozen water. We moved them from the outdoor rabbitry (great during the hot summer months) to the greenhouse and are about to move them into our front porch. This will solve the frozen water problem for this year at least. But there must be an easier way...

The geese are my biggest worry. They have a stall (6 ft x 4 ft) in the entrance room to the chicken house and a heated water bucket. This has been their night quarters since they were small goslings and it is adequate for sleeping... but with the recent, premature bitter temperatures and strong winds, I feel bad about either leaving them outside all day or bringing them in early. We are building a proper goose house with a predator safe pen but, again, it has been delayed by horrid fall weather.

And then there is their feed. They cannot forage effectively with several inches of crusty snow and they have only a tepid interest in grains. I am beginning to grow sprouted grains for them, but it takes time to get this going and I'm new to it and may lose some of the trays to moulds. Are they hungry? What should I feed them that I may not have thought of? I know their bodies stay warm thanks to their down undercoats but what about their feet? Their feet were bright orange-red when I brought them in and I immediately start worrying about frostbite.

The books are useless on these subjects. They don't seem to cover these questions at all. What I need is advice from people who raise geese and rabbits in cold climates. I hope some of you out there can offer me advice that will help the critters and ease my mind.

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judyag_44(SW FL)

I have ducks who have chosen to stay outside for the past two winters. They have the option of going inside the chicken coop but stay outside(we close them into the enclosed pen each night). We give them cracked corn daily and they forage. We have had temps as low as -5 degrees with chill factors to -19 degrees. They seem to have no problems from the exposure. We have a heated bucket to provide water to them.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 11:46PM
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Maggie, how cold will you be getting (in C)?
We dipped to nearly -30C for a few weeks, that's it. Last winter I cut a hole in the barn wall for the geese to come in if they wanted. They had a lean-to shelter with hay as bedding. They ALWAYS stayed out, lying on the snow. They only came into the barn to eat. They seem to be claustrophobic, they were always on a rampage to eat and get out- in a loud way. Fed them chicken/duck food and scavanged greens, also seemed to eat a bit of leafy hay. Not sure what else (free stuff).
They had a heated bucket which was wonderful. Geese are tougher than chickens in my opinion. No lights/heat needed.

It's still just hovering to freezing right now. The guineas are still a bit to small to reach into the heated buckets, so they had better hurry up and grow!

I'm probably getting 6-12 bunnies tomorrow. Cages will go into the chicken house, I hope that'll do. I hear to add hot water to their bowls twice daily. Never had meat bunnies. It sounds like as long as they are in a wind/weather sheltered area they will be fine. I just read a lot about rabbits this afternoon. Still trying to understand how they can keep warm if they are kept seperately (buck, or nursing does) a cold is cold even inside a barn.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 12:03AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Judy, it is good to hear that your ducks did fine at those temperatures. Thanks for posting.

Mountain Man, last night it went down to -14 C with a wind chill of -20 C. Our temperatures dip to about -20 degrees Celsius quite often during the winter - and sometimes lower. Wind chill is a big factor because we are surrounded by water - Lake Ontario and Bay of Quinte: 30 km/hr gusting to 50 is commonplace and sometimes we get winds gusting to 90.

My geese are glad to come in at dusk - they holler for us if we are even minutes later than usual - but they hate being cooped up in the daytime. I'm starting the grain sprouting to provide them with greens. They have their heated bucket and we put down wood chips near their bucket so they dont have to stand or lie in snow all day. I wonder if greasing their feet with vegetable oil or lanolin would help prevent frostbite. I've used petroleum jelly on my roo's comb and wattles and it seemed to help a bit... but I don't like using petroleum based products on animals.

I am very fond of my geese and so I tend to worry about them more than the other critters. They are always nibbling on things... suppose they get their tongues stuck on a metal fence post or something. How serious would it be if their feet did get frostbitten? It's NOT KNOWING what I need to do that drives me crazy.

What breed of rabbit are you getting? Rabbits should do okay in the chicken house, although you will have to watch out for ammonia fumes building up. One helpful thing I found out by accident... if they are provided with a plastic dishpan with a couple of inches of shavings, most of them will use it as a litter box. They still drop "bunny berries" around the cage, but they are not smelly. I empty the bins into the compost every second day and to my mind it sure helps reduce odours in the greenhouse.

It is vital that they have water for two reasons: it helps prevent hypothermia and rabbits often will not eat if they are thirsty. Taking them warm water several times a day is one way of dealing with it, but I am lloking forward to having them on the porch where I can keep an eye on them without slogging through the ice and snow. Also, I want to be able to spend some time getting those youngsters we are keeping for breeding used to being handled. There are some very promising bunnies there and they will be old enough to breed in April.

If you have never eaten domestic rabbit then you are in for a treat. As versatile as chicken, but healthier and tastier. So far I have cooked a loin stuffed with herb dressing and wrapped in bacon. Oh wow! Was it good! I also made a meat pie out of the front legs and giblets of the three rabbits we culled. Also delicious. Let me know if you want recipes.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 1:20AM
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Sorry Maggie I really don't know what to say about their feet. I can say I was amazed they would rather sit in the snow at those temps than go in the barn, with the choice. So they are tough as nails. If your's have access to the indoors I'm sure there isn't an issue. My geese were nasty. One book I had suggested geese were fine to -40C!!! (Guide to Modern Poultry Keeping, or something like that). That made me feel alright anyways.

Thanks for the bunny info. Any idea how I could get away for 2-3 days mid winter without their water freezing? Electric pet bowls are too small/have electric cable. I don't have anyone that can come twice daily. I'm thinking about not getting them, due to this (going to visit folks for a couple days at Christmas)...

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 2:47AM
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When we had rabbits we used the water bottles with spicots. We'd switch the bottles twice a day with unfrozen ones from the house. We used soda bottles instead of the bottle that came with the spicot-that took 2-4 hours to freeze. Just don't drop the bottle or force the spicot off the bottle or it will crack when frozen. A nestbox was always available in each cage, they were in/out about the same amount of time. They were pretty well insulated with that fur. They were in an open rabbitry-more like a lean-to building. The only problem we had was if an inexperienced momma birthed on the wire instead of the box.

Ditto on the geese as posted earlier. We just lock them up at night, feeding grain, bread, veggie scraps. Their water always froze in the open container. We don't have heated bowls.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 6:21AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Thanks, BrendaSue, for the input. I'm probably just being a worrywart about the geese. Looks like we're getting milder temperatures for the next several days, so we will have a chance to work on the problem.

Mountain Man, it is possible to have heated water lines for rabbits; "Skagit Goat Man" (Tom) has a set-up like that. Easier would be to bring the rabbits into your house for the time you will be away. Put down heavy plastic like a tarp or vapour barrier and either newspaper or shavings on top to absorb the urine. Bit of a mess to clear away when you get home, but if only 2-3 days it shouldn't be too bad. Maybe you could buy just two does and a buck right now and increase your herd in the spring.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 7:56AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

I feel a bit better about the geese today. I put half a bale of wood shavings in the entrance-way to the summer rabbitry so they can have a dry sheltered spot to rest - and they have enough sense to use it. And I shovelled off a bit of turf so they can at least nibble grass. It's not so cold today and the temperatures are supposed to climb for the next few days so I will have a few days to work on permanent solutions.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 2:23PM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

For keeping rabbits warmer, I put heavy cardboard or a board down so they would have a place off the wire to sit/sleep. It helped keep them from getting sores on their feet also.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 9:37AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Those wire cages have to be uncomfortable at best and brutal in cold weather. Mine always have a carton or at least a pop flat to sit in. I gave the youngsters plastic dishpans of shavings thinking they would miss their nest box when they were weaned... and guess what? They litter trained themselves! They still drop a few "bunny berries" but they are consistant at urinating in the box and most of their poop is in there too. Bonus!

Back to the geese... I am sprouting trays of grain for them. I start a new tray (plastic dishpans again from the dollar store) every day. The Day Four tray is beginning to look like sprouts and no sign of mould. I'll let them grow until they look like grass and from then on the geese will have at least some healthy greens regardless of the weather. The bunnies and chickens will get a bit too. And of course, our beloved Marilla (our cat) has her own pot of wheat grass too - on the kitchen windowsill so she can look out at the snow while she nibbles.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 11:02AM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

When your sprouts start to get moldy, put 1 tbs. of clorox in a quart spray bottle and spray them.

The mold will go away, and the sprouts will actually grow faster. No, that small amount will not hurt the geese.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 1:56PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Thanks, Marquisella! I was wondering what to do if mould developed and hoping I wouldn't lose the whole panful. Clorox is the same as Javex, isn't it? I was planning on experimenting with small dishes of sprouts, adding a touch of organic apple cider vinegar to see the effect, if any; but bleach sounds handier.

It sounds as though you have some experience with sprouting grains for livestock. Care to share? I have an ancient Harrowsmith magazine that has a good article on the topic, but there is nothing like talking to someone who has actually done it. The article suggested using fertilizer, but I am not keen to use chemical fertilizers and am not sure organic ones made from fish would be safe or palatable to the geese and rabbits.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 2:51PM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

I used to work in Horticulture, am a Master Gardener and work with a Cooperative Extension now.

Anyway, I found it out by accident. I was germinating flats of flowers and some of them became moldy. I figured why not try it, what did I have to lose?

I sprayed the plants, and the next day the mold was gone.
Then, I noticed that the flats I sprayed were growing faster than the non-sprayed plants. I think they liked it! LOL

Now, the minute I see any mold, I spray right away. I sometimes even just spray the flats just as they are coming up anyhow for good measure.

Here's a secret for damping off...sprinkle sand on top of the soil after you put in the seeds. The sand keeps the
plant from becoming "soggy" at the soil line. Works great.
Just don't put too much on top. About 1/8 inch works for most seeds. The smaller the seed, the less you use.
I like the white sand they sell for sandboxes, it looks good too!


    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 3:26PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Interesting! Thanks, Marquisella. And welcome to the Forum. I look forward to picking your brain at every opportunity! LOL.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 6:47PM
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We've got 7 does and a buck and probably 20 newborns in our shed/garage. It is not insulated and has holes in the tin all over the place so it does get cold in there. We've got water lines and have been using heat lamps to keep them thawed. When they have frozen, we'd have to resort to the old bottles or waterdish until the lines would unfreeze.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 11:55AM
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Cena(S CA 10A)

Can't offer anything about the geese.

My moms rabbitry is right out in the open, good cages on sawhorses. When I came back from my vacation she had 41 babies alive. Some of the first time moms get caught off guard and don't pull fur. Anytime she sees fur, even if her calendar doesn't show a due date yet, she gets a nest box in.

All her rabbits are out. All year, in S. Colorado. She has more trouble with Summer Heat than Winter Cold. She uses dog bowls. They are flexible and the frozen water will pop right out, to be refilled easily. But this means someone has to be there, twice a day at least, to check and fill. She went to the soda bottle spigots this year, I will have to ask how that is working.

I would just send her an email to reply here, but her computer was taken over. The hard drive that was ordered showed up in a damaged box, that was empty (meaning it DIDN'T show up, didn't know just how to word that...) UPS was supposed to deliver and a claim filed. That has been three weeks. If she gets up and running, I will ask.

I would be interested in reading about "Skagit Goat Man" Tom's set up, if anyone remembers the post title. She has close to 60 rabbits. She provides the youngsters for the gear stores in town to sell, as well as being a 'meat' provider for some herpetology specialized vets in town, and a few of the hawk folk around the valley. I guess the doves and pigeons work for the hawk people... She is a full service farm rescue place! She also takes in unwanteds, and strays.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 3:14PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

I guess I'm soft about my critters. I don't know how cold it gets in South Colorado, Cena, although I gather it is at least as cold as our Zone 5. And tchappetta, I am not sure where you are located. "SC KS" - is that South Central Kansas?

In any case, I know rabbits can survive low temperatures, but our climate here tends to be both damp and very windy and therefore harder to take than a crisp, dry cold. I am not happy seeing my rabbits huddling and looking miserable. When I moved them into the greenhouse they perked up amazingly.

The youngsters currently in the front porch are more active than their littermates in the greenhouse. We brought the "house bunnies" indoors because they are potential future breeders and I want them to be friendly. But the rest will be coming in too before the next really cold spell comes along.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 8:50PM
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Miss_Kitty(6a KY)

Gee, I've been so busy working at it, that I haven't posted much. (Been trying to round up the wood and the funds to finish my stalls.)

My ducks prefer to stay out during the day, and only come inside at night. Even in the snow.

My ducks also forage for grass and pasture weeds. They will swim as long as there is a hole in the ice big enough for them. No problems with frostbite in 6 years.

However, Kentucky is zone 6, so we don't need to help out the livestock the way you do.

I've been worried about my chickens. They are in the big barn which is metal sided. They have a coop and nest boxes to snuggle down in. I'm hoping they will be all right.

Great thread, I'm learning alot!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 8:56PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

We made some changes to our chicken house yesterday. First day of nice weather in ages and we made the most of it. The chicken house is 8 ft. x 16 ft. and was divided into an entrance/storage room and the chicken area, which is about 8 ft. x 10 ft. The three geese have been spending their nights in a 6 ft. x 4 ft. pen in the entrance but this is not enough room if they must be sometimes confined due to extreme weather.

We moved the partition so that the chicken and geese have equal space. We still have to add a pop-hole for the geese so that they can come and go as they please in the daytime. It will open onto a pallet-wood platform along the south side to give them a sheltered outdoor area to hang out.

We will have to reduce our chicken population. Three of the four cockerels will be culled and several of the older hens. Our old rooster Napoleon, who lost sight in one eye as a result of his accident, will be kept on as long as he can still enjoy life. We are also keeping the nicest of the the cockerels and I hope Dad and Son can get along. This downsizing was not a difficult decision to make; I have come to the conclusion that we have too few hens to be able to sell eggs in sufficient quantity to justify the effort and too many hens for just our own use.

I want to thank everyone who posted on this topic. Your input helped a lot and I think now we will be able to bring the critters through the winter in good shape.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 1:02AM
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Thanks for the rabbit ideas. I picked up 2 females 1 male. There were lots more (free) but I just couldn't do it. Also got 24 free hens to add to the 30ish...
The bunnies are awesome so far. Fems separated from the males, they will get their own cages if need be, so far they cuddle a lot.
I think what I'll do, is give the bunnies really good nest boxes that block out light and leave a 60-100 watt bulb over the water. This is only for when I need to leave for a weekend, I am aware animals need their sleep.

SORRY Maggie, you sure aren't getting many winter feeding ideas.
I know people supplement their animals diets with oats. I don't know anything more than that they are easy to grow, but I bet you need special equipment to harvest them.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 1:31AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

I consulted Jason Cain of Performance Poultry from whom I purchased my chickens and geese. Jason lives near here and is kind enough to answer my questions about poultry from time to time. He says the sprouted grains are a good idea. He also suggested switching the geese from the organic mash that I have been feeding to a pellet grower until the breeding season and then changing to a pellet layer formula. I'm going to give this a try because the geese really don't like the mash all that much. Jason also said that some scratch is good for them and to be sure they have grit. I'm posting these details for those of you who have been following this thread, hoping you will benefit from them as well.

The young rabbits are doing well and are about ready for the freezer. Sometime next weekmost likely. Still have to decide which ones to save as future breeders. They will be six months old and ready to breed about mid-March.

Mountain Man, you don't say how old your rabbits are, but they need to be at least six months old to breed safely. Very young does can be ruined or lost by breeding them too young. Be sure to take the doe to the buck's cage and not the other way around. A doe can be very territorial and may view the buck as an intruder if he is put in her cage. You likely know all this stuff already, but better safe than sorry.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 12:20PM
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I kept geese and ducks in the same fenced in enclosure as my chickens (five feet of chicken wire with three strands of electric on the outside). They had access via a ramp to a wood-floored barn stall covered in wood shavings, where the food and a heated water bowl were located. They could also squeeze through the door into the chicken coop. Temps around here regularly get down to -16F/-27C and high temps stay below 32F/0C for weeks at a time. The geese and ducks NEVER went into the barn or the coop, except to eat or drink. By choice they stayed out in the snow, the rain, the sleet, the freezing rain, whatever, day and night. They were fed exclusively Blue Seal Layer Pellets, which is what I feed the chickens, and they did fine. They laid a LOT of eggs.

Geese are tough birds and they prefer to be outside. Their bodies, including their feet and legs, are designed to deal with cold weather. The only problem I have ever heard about regarding geese and cold weather was an African Brown, whose knob got frostbitten and fell off in some extremely cold weather. It had to be put down. My African brown and White chinese never had that problem. They will also learn to eat pellets, if there is no forage available.

Mash is not the best food for them, since they have to dabble in water, when they eat. They will end up losing a good portion of the food in the water, which also will make quite a mess of the water, and the mash can cake and become a choking hazard. Pellets are a better alternative.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 8:04AM
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This is a great site,I just joined! I need info on keeping ducks and hens winterized..I get -20 winters rabbits have always been fine,I give them straw in their houses,and plastic up the sides to prevent drafts. I pop out their water once day, but they also eat snow. I have a light for heat and longer daylight hours in the hens house...the ducks and hens will share a heated water bucket in their run. what else should I do? can someone let me know please? do i feed them in the house?? right now they only eat outside..the house holds 4 hens,and the duckhouse holds 2 ducks,so they only spend the dangerous night hours in their house.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 11:23AM
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Is this an old post?? I don't remember seeing it before...Maggie, did you find a solution to your problem? Our ducks have always seemed fine in the winter. Their feet do turn a dark pink color-but, they seem ok and they even swim in their pool. my oldest duck is 3 yrs old and she has always been ok in the winter.

My rabbit stays out in a rabbit hutch and we put lots of hay in with him. I don't guess it gets as cold here as it dowe where your at? Because their pool doesn't freeze. But, cadbury's water does. (rabbit) Sometimes we let Cadbury come inside to warm up--but, he mainly stays outside in his hutch in the winter.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 5:20PM
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Is it ok to leave a light on in the henhouse during cold temperatures? It warms it up nice,but is it too much light?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 11:10AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Genny, yes, this is a post from last November. My geese came through the winter just fine. After the cold, nasty weather in November, the rest of the winter was fairly mild. The geese were able to graze a bit except for a few days when the snow was too deep. I fed them a good organic mash as well, but they didn't seem to like dry food much. This year, however, I have been feeding it moistened and they clean it up fast. So I am less worried about the winter ahead.

Beeliz, get a timer for your light. Chickens need their hours of darkness, but if your light is set to come on in the hours before dawn (early enough to keep their "day" at 14 hours) it will increase egg production and also give then a bit of warmth during the coldest hours of the night. You can set it to go off once the sun is well up or you can time it to go off just before dusk so that there is a natural dimming of light to tell them it is time to go to bed. Sudden "lights out" can disorient chickens and not give them a chance to go to roost.

Whereabouts in Canada are you? I'm in Prince Edward County, Ontario and its Zone 5, but the winds off the lake can be severe and it tends to be a damp cold, which is harder on critters than a nice crisp dry cold. If you live in an area where the cold is extreme, you can buy non-light-emitting ceramic heater bulbs such as are used for reptiles. It would mean putting in two fixtures instead of one, but it should solve the problem nicely.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 12:25PM
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I'm glad your animals made it through the winter alright, Maggie!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 3:32PM
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Thanks Maggie! helpful info...I do have them on timer right now,but I was worried that the coldest night hours,they wouldn't be warm enough...I like the non emitting light idea. right now the light comes on at 6 am then off at 8 am just to give them a little more daylight...but I guess in the winter I'll set it at 4 m and off at 8 am...does that sound ok? is the temp change in the house going to cause a problem? (new at this!!) :)
by the way,I live in Quebec...hudson...our winters can go to about -25 celcius without the windchill

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 11:50AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Glad you found this thread helpful, Beeliz. If you can rig it, using the non-light-emitting ceramic bulb would be best, I think, considering your climate. Then you can use the timer on the white light, giving them the heat from both in those darkest coldest pre-dawn hours.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 12:37AM
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This is a great thred! I'm in Barrie, Ontario and have wanted some winter ideas. We just moved to our small farm in Oct and haven't gotten any livestock yet, but plan to in the spring. The place comes with two large chicken houses and secure run attached. I just need nesting boxes and perches installed. In addition to dual purpose chickens, I also want a couple of ducks, dual purpose, and a few rabbits, for meat and a couple of milk goats and perhaps a sheep.

As far as winter goes, the Canada geese and mallard ducks often stay here year round, as long as there are spots open in the ice they will stay. I used to run along the shoreline and would see them asleep, right on the ice in the early morning during the coldest days of the winter.

I have wondered what to do about the freezing water. If I change the frozen water twice a day, will that be often enough for chickens, rabbits and ducks? I'll consider heated containers. Has anyone used a floating pond deicer? Is this feasible?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:48AM
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Boy, I wondered why this thread resurfaced when winter was nearing its end. Runningtrails, it is never too early to learn and get ready. We have used all kinds of deicers (except the drain plug)and have found the heated containers--buckets--the most satisfactory if you can keep them out of the snow, such as hung on a wall or placed on a platform. We have never lost chickens to cold, but they do sometimes lose their combs or an occasional toe if it gets below -40. I have never had any problems at all with geese if you give them someplace to stand off the snow and ice, whether it it a shelter or a pile of straw or shavings. Our ducks were all eaten by the eagles, and I have never gotten any more, so I don't know how they will do. We sometimes have mallards overwinter in the area if they can find open water, so I suspect food in the only issue with them. Dairy goats and cattle are the real water problem. If they are milking, you have to supply them with lots of water that isn't frozen, and you have to watch the udders and teats to make sure they don't get frostbitten if the temps go real low.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 1:32PM
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I swear by heated buckets! this is the first year I've used one and it's a real lifesaver! :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 2:38PM
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pamcleod(z4 NH Lakes)

I like the heated dog bowls for our poultry.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 8:46PM
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Great info! Thanks! I'll definately look into getting the heated buckets or bowls for the poultry and also for the goats if and when we get them. Sounds like a necessary item for winter weather!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 9:07AM
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kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)

Does anyone have a design for a SOLAR heater for livestock water? I've spent the last two winters hauling water 200 feet up a steep, slippery, icey hill to my animals and I am DONE with that, can't do it another winter.... but there's no electricity at the barnyard. Must solve this problem by Nov. '08.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 2:55AM
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Can you run an extension cord underground to your barn???

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 12:01PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Kristenmarie, I have seen, somewhere - in Duncraft's catalogue? - a solar water warmer for bird bath type containers. You might try there, or try googling for a solar water heater, and see what comes up. You may get a bunch of entries for heating water for a house, which might not be the most useful. It's worth a try though.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 9:21PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

I have only seen one solar water heater, used for horses. It worked OK. Downsides were it did not hold a lot of water, like 20 gallons. Good for one horse, not for multiples. It has a floating ball cover, which got frozen when horse dripped on it. Some vegtable oil is supposed to help prevent the freezing problem. It also was pretty expensive for a plastic unit. The person who owned it, was satisfied, only had one horse.

Another idea to consider would be a propane water tank heater. Also rather expensive, but appears to be a well thought out idea in several designs. Do a search for sellers. Lots of cattle and sheep owners who pasture animals where there is no electric available. Those who owned them were pretty happy with the heaters. You could resell it when you didn't need it anymore, probably get most of your money back.

Not sure how fast heaters go thru fuel. The livestock owners did protect the fuel tank and heater unit, so animals could not reach or rub against it. Cows are so ready to break things rubbing on them, that good protection would be important!!

We insulate our tanks inside wooden boxes. This does hold in the heat, keeps water from freezing quickly. We have electric heaters, so it saves us money not running heaters all the time.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 12:17AM
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