Dateline: 27 February 2014
Having kept chickens in the past, I know the drawbacks, and I’m going to avoid those drawbacks when I reestablish a flock. First, I’m going to limit the flock to six or less. We’ve had up to 50 hens at a time (with roosters) in the past. That many birds are a big expense to feed. And I’ll only have hens in my flock this time—no roosters.
Next, we’re going to keep the chickens in a simple, movable chicken tractor. I’ve used homemade chicken tractors when raising meat birds but my egg layers always stayed in a chicken house with an attached yard. They frequently escaped the yard and ran all over the place. A big flock of chickens can make quite a mess. Six hens (or less) in a cage, moved to a patch of fresh yard-grass every day is not going to be any problem.
And finally, I’m going to make watering the chickens real easy. In the past we used a galvanized fount-style waterer for our egg-layers. Such waterers were pretty much the standard for small flocks years ago, but, even though they are still sold, I wouldn’t consider using one of those things ever again. That’s because Mark Hamilton makes a simple poultry waterer that puts those old fount waterers to shame.
|Mark Hamilton, and his wife, Anna Hess, a dynamic duo |
of homestead creativity and entrepreneurship.
Mark and his wife, Anna, are carving a homestead out of 58-acres of overgrown marginal land in southwestern Virginia. They support their agrarian lifestyle with different entrepreneurial ideas. Anna has written numerous books (Click Here to go to her Amazon page) and Mark is what I would call a “shade tree” inventor. He is always looking to develop new and/or improved ideas for homesteading. Mark and Anna chronicle their homesteading ideas and adventures at their popular blog, Walden Effect. You can read a bio of the couple at This Link.
I think it’s safe to say that Mark’s best idea yet is the new EZ Miser chicken waterer. The EZ Miser is a second generation waterer. It is an improvement over his first generation Avian Aqua Miser. CLICK HERE to learn about both waterers. In the video below Anna tells all about the new EZ Miser waterer they make and sell.
Either of Mark Hamilton’s chicken waterer designs is a huge improvement over the old fount-style waterers. That’s because the fount-style waterers offer an open “dish” of water for the chickens to dip their beaks into. The open water always gets fouled with chicken manure and bedding that the chickens scratch up into it. Many times, the “dish” is fouled within just a couple minutes of cleaning it. So the birds end up drinking out of a contaminated water source. That’s not good. Chickens need an ever-present supply of clean water in order to stay healthy and be efficient egg layers.
The EZ Miser totally solves the problem of fouled water by using poultry nipple waterers. The nipples are nothing new; they’ve been used by large-scale poultry operations for over 20 years. What is new is the idea of adapting the nipples to portable backyard waterers. Mark Hamilton’s Avian Aqua Miser was the first portable nipple waterer manufactured and sold for backyard poultry flocks.
Nipple waterers can be used with day-old chicks and older chickens. They are “activated” when the bird touches her beak to the end of the nipple and a drop of water is released. It seems like only a drop would be something of a tease for the chickens; that they would want a more satisfying flow. But, as I noted, the poultry industry has been using these nipples for a long time and they allow the birds to get sufficient water. The fact is, chickens figure out how to manipulate the end so they get more than just a single drop at a time.
I’ve searched the internet to see if there are disadvantages or significant problems with poultry nipple waterers. From what I gather, sometimes the simple “valve” mechanism in the nipple will get plugged with some small bit of debris, or debris will get stuck and not allow the valve to seal (so the water drips out when a chicken isn’t there to drink it). Also, if you have hard water, mineral buildup may eventually keep the nipple from sealing properly. A vinegar soak will remove mineral buildup and small clogs can be flushed clean. In the final analysis, neither of these disadvantages are significant enough to offset the poop-free advantage of a nipple waterer.
Winter, and freezing water, presents some challenges with a nipple waterer, but the same holds true of any style poultry waterer. There are different ways of dealing with water icing, and the EZ Miser web site offers Lots Of Ideas for keeping the water flowing in freezing conditions.
Mark and Anna have a lot of information and customer feedback on their web site and I like that (be sure to check out the Chicken Waterer FAQ while you’re there). I also like the fact that they offer different options. You can order DIY kits or already-made waterers. In this next video Mark explains how to use one of their EZ Miser kits to make your own poultry waterer.
I’m looking forward to putting my new EZ Miser poultry waterer to use. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that this little homestead tool is going to save me a lot of trouble. And it sure will be nice to see my chickens drinking always-clean water!
I'm Looking For More
I think Mark Hamilton makes a downright useful product. It is my hope that this article will help him sell more of his poultry waterers, and I would like to help other homestead-based small businesses promote their products.
This blog has been in existence for nine years and, though the number goes up and down, I am currently getting around 900 visitors a day. I have a readership that would like to know about and support small-scale, agrarian-centered home businesses.
Do you know someone with a home business who is producing a unique and/or useful tool that can help people to live a more self-reliant lifestyle? A “tool” can be for the garden, the barn, the kitchen, or the workshop (I’m not including books as tools for this kind of individual review). If so, send me an e-mail about it: firstname.lastname@example.org
I may request a sample of any product I write about here, but there will be no expectation (or acceptance) of financial remuneration in any way.
For examples of other homestead businesses and products that I have reviewed and promoted here in the past, check out Leo Sprauer’s Hop Hoe and WaterBoy Well Buckets.