Monday, March 5, 2018

Chirp Chirp: Part 2

Sometimes I feel like I leave out some of the smaller farm life details that make life here so interesting and challenging. Pictures of all the cute baby animals and beautiful lush grass pastures are all good, and more of those are sure to come this spring.  This post however, is of a more practical nature. We brood a few hundred chicks at a time. The above picture is one layer, of four. So, theoretically we could brood 800 chicks at one time. Realistically we rarely have over two or three levels full at any one time, so 400 to 600 chicks at one time is somewhat normal.  We designed and built this stacked brooded space a few years ago and they do a great job at protecting the chicks and keeping them warm. One thing that has been a challenge is the manual watering of this many chicks. It is a overwhelming job, and one that is hard to get consistently right. Our old way was to use several of the one gallon fountain drinkers like the one in the distance pictured above. The down side of this type is that they are very labor intensive and are prone to leak if not perfectly level. We are not against hard work, laboring on the farm just comes with the territory. We specifically do not mind a little extra work when doing something by hand makes for a better final product. However, in this case the hard way did not improve the welfare of the chicks. In fact, when the water fountains leak they cause wet bedding and empty waterers, both of which reduce the welfare of our little peeps. So, I set out to find a solution that would be better for the chicks and easier on the humans. What I landed on is a custom designed gravity flow drinking system. The system pivots at the top, so it can grow with the chicks as they grow by adjusting the chains in the picture. The nipple drinkers are custom placed on a short section of pipe, and fitted with the red chick drinker cups  to accommodate the baby chicks and prevent leaking. The whole system is fed via gravity from a barrel on top of the brooders. This barrel has a float valve to prevent overfilling. 
So there you have it. The problem was identified. A creative solution was formulated, designed, and implemented. Life is better for both farmer and animal. 
Our first broilers of 2018. Enjoying the heat of the
brooder and the new water system.