The “waterbugs” are a week old today. They’re starting to get some real feathers on their wings and tiny tailfeathers. They do lots of scratching in their brooder, which has a layer of large pine shavings on the floor (large shavings are used to minimize the risk of chicks ingesting it). The scratching means that their waterer, which sat on the floor, was continuously filling up with shavings. It was time for them to graduate to the nipple waterer.
Waterers in the brooder are, in our experience, prone to overflowing and causing unholy messes. The idea is that the water flow ceases when the water tray fills to a certain point, but we have experienced many that just kept flowing, with disastrous results. One overflowed so much into the brooder that it caused mold to grow under the plywood floor – BAD. We had to tear out the entire floor and replace it. It was about an $80 job just for materials, but that doesn’t account for labor. Many expletives flew that day!
A better choice is to use a nipple watering system, where the chicks tap a metal “nipple” that hangs down from the bottom of a bucket (that’s filled with water). The water runs down the nipple into their beaks. This system does still leak a bit due to gravity, but that can be managed with a drip tray below.
We switched out the floor waterer for the nipple waterer and waited to see if anything happened. Knowing they were being watched, the chicks refused to use it. Later, though, the chicks were tapping away under it. The shiny metal piques their curiosity, so they figure out how to use it pretty quickly.
A big snowstorm is supposed to blow in tonight. Most of the (adult) chickens won’t come out of the coop if they have to walk through the snow (even if a path has been shoveled), and the ones that do come out don’t want to walk back through the snow in the evening to the coop. We’ve had to pick the girls up and set them on the ramp to get them to go in. Divas! They seem to have us trained.