I am renting and unable to run electricity out to my coop, but I was considering a water warmer (after 3 long winters of pouring boiling water every morning for three months of the year...), and perhaps a timed light and heat lamp for inside to improve laying. I've been looking at these solar systems: http://www.goalzero.com/shop/c/3/ , but they're a little pricey, obviously... Anyone have any advice, experience, or recommendations? I would appreciate it.
Nope :( And the windows are all crank-open style, so plugging in indoors would create pretty intolerable drafts, since I'm not allowed to do any permanent-ish modifications.
I wish I could do that, unfortunately it's a rental, but thanks!
You could always check ebay or other such sites for used ones. Solar is never going to be cheap to start. We're also looking into this for our coop.
Thanks for the tip, Emily! Someone linked me to this as well: http://www.ebay.com/itm/100W-Watts-100-Watt-Solar-Panel-Off-Grid-12...
And someone else recommended some cheap panels from Harbor Freight... so I have some options to look into :)
Stella, I have had that issue as well and it doesn't need to be boiling water. Just room temp water. Trust me, does the trick just fine. You might also find a way to just insulate the water itself by placing it IN the coop for the coldest months. Also keep these tips in mind: the Mpemba effect.
The Mpemba effect occurs when two bodies of water with different temperatures are exposed to the same subzero surroundings and the hotter water freezes first.
The phenomenon you describe is one of modern science's few remaining mysteries and the source of much debate in certain circles. Given the right set of conditions, hot or warm water can freeze faster than cooler water.
So, just top off their water each morning with cool/room temp water. Since we only freeze at night here with exception of a few weeks in the very mid winter, topping their water off in the morning should do the trick!
Also, ask the Chicken Whisperer what he thinks of heating chickens in the winter!
Thanks for the link, Grygon! I have always agreed it's a bit silly...but I always have had less than 5 chickens, and I feel a bit bad for them, since it's difficult to keep each other warm. But I lost one this summer from the heat; never lost one from the cold. I figured if I was powering the other things, I might as well add a heat bulb; but from advice I've gotten elsewhere, heating devices are very difficult to power with solar. The best tip I've gotten is for heating water with an aquarium heating element, which uses very little power.
I don't know what kind of waterer you're using; this is mine: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Giant2-Gallon-Double-9832/dp/B000FJX82...
The water in the rim freezes solid, and without thawing it with boiling water, I can't get the cover off to top it off with ANYTHING. I'll give room-temp water a try, but honestly it's not boiling the water I mind, it's venturing out into the cold in my PJs first thing in the morning or risking deafening squawking :) Especially since the few I have drink so little in the winter, I would rather not have to bother with it at all every day.
Some people with the same question.
Thanks for the link, Trevor. It seems like most of the low-cost options people were suggesting run all night though, and I was looking for something that preferably could be on a timer, not just running until the battery runs off, since I don't want to stress the ladies or irritate my neighbors, and that also could run the heat for the water; the ones linked to seemed mostly just to run lights, like backyard lights or a porch light type deal? I'm looking for something a little more flexible. I'll sift through some other threads and see what I find though :)
I'm glad you asked this, I've been thinking about the same things...