Summary of the Last Few Days
Trying to get caught up on this blog, so here's some snipits from the last few days, some of which I wrote on BackyardChicken Forum, so just had to slightly modify it for here.
My brother & I went into town on 2/21, as I had an overflow of eggs so I sold them to the local food co-op, plus got the rest of the supplies for making the coolerbator. I wanted to get more heated water bowls, but TSC was all out except for the heated 3 gallon buckets. All four of the breeding coops have ones for their water, but I need 3 more for their fermented feed, as it just keeps freezing. So, I have to bring in the rubber dishes at night to defrost, then take them back out in the morning. Hence, they're not going through the fermented feed as fast, but since they also have dry layer mash, they're going through that faster than normal. By 1pm when we came back yesterday, they snow was coming down & blowing all around. So even though I'd let the chickens out in the morning, they were all back in their coops, except for the ducks who always have to be escorted back in.
On another note, I looked up the weather in Alaska the other day and saw that they were warmer than we've been!
Here they're calling for a heat wave of 34*F today, but overnight getting down to -2*, only "warming up to 3* above zero on Monday and overnight low of -14* , with wind chills of -30*!
When I was doing the fermented feed prep Saturday night, the whole grain's rinse water wouldn't drain down the shower. Let it sit for awhile and didn't move. So, Dad graciously removed all the water little by little, and found it frozen solid at the bottom of the the drain. Blow drying didn't do anything, and the only access to under the house near that bathroom just happens to be where there's 3 - 4ft of heavy, packed snow from cleaning off the roof. Hopefully the warmer temps today helps thaw things out.
(Update: in the morning, it was all thawed out! Praise the Lord!)
From the looks of the chicken's outside areas they enjoyed today's warmth and sunshine. But by the time I got home, they were all back inside for the night.
(About my fermented feed process - I had said that I was making a "fresh 5 gallon bucket" every day until recently when it's been freezing outside. Someone asked for more details, as fermenting usually takes longer than just 24 hrs.)
I strain out the excess water and use it again to ferment the new feed that gets added.
When they were eating more, I'd strain it out (I'd aim for the morning, but sometimes it was evening) & add more feed & water to the bucket. The strained fermented feed usually wasn't fed until the following morning.
For example, Mon. morning after I fed the hens, I'd strain out the FF I'd started Sun morning, and Tues morning I'd feed that to the chickens. Even after it's strained, it's still pretty loose and I'd think it continues to ferment. So, even when I was doing it "every day", it had from Sun to Tues to "work".
Yesterday when it was warmer, I noticed that they ate a lot more. I have one coop that still has a heated water bowl for their FF and they go through it much faster than all the other coops. Before they were separated into breeding groups, I had two heated water bowls I used for their fermented feed, plus put one rubber dish outside. They'd usually eat all the FF in the rubber dish, and by morning the FF in the two heated water bowls was either gone or 1/2 way gone. But, when I separated them I needed those heated water bowls for their water, as it's more important for then to have unfrozen water all the time than the FF. Now, it's the same number of hens but there's also multiple roosters eating it. They just eat more of the dry mash when the FF is frozen, so at least they're still getting enough food.
The "bachelor" roosters & the ducks get FF also, but theirs is "plain" without all the additional things like alfalfa meal, flax meal, kelp meal, etc; they go through a bucket every day, and would probably go through even more if I made it for them. But since they're currently not producing any eggs or being used for breeding, they don't get an "all-you-can-eat-buffet".