Keeping animals hydrated in winter

Last week, we finally saw our first snow. It seems as if winter has been arriving consistently later and later than it used to. I hope that trend isn’t real or at least reverses soon, because I don’t want the spring season to be any shorter than it already is. I’m looking forward to starting seeds and beginning the garden again. In the mean time I have animals to take care of.

During snowy, or just freezing weather, it can be difficult to continuously provide a source of drinking water for your animals. If you have rabbits and you use any of the standard kinds of drinking bottles, then you know those bottles freeze quickly. I need to change the water bottles at leas twice a day when the temperature has dropped below freezing. If you can’t be at home during the day, changing the drinking water before it freezes is impossible. The chickens and ducks have the same problem with their drinking water. But I slow down the freezing by adding some sugar and salt. Still, their water needs to be changed at least two times per day. If you have ducks, you’ll know that they don’t care where their water comes from. They will take baths in the snow, take naps in it and eat it when they’re thirsty. Chickens can also eat snow when they don’t have any water, but they’ll be the first to stop laying if they aren’t hydrated well enough.

So, what do you do about this freezing water problem? Feed root vegetables! Root vegetables often contain a lot of water. Chickens will happily peck at beets, and this will help them keep hydrated. A traditional method of offering them to poultry is by threading beets on a wire and suspending them in the coop. Rabbits will, of course, be best off with carrots, beets, or cabbage leftovers. It’s best to try to keep offering drinking water, though. But having root vegetables lying around will help bridge times when you can’t be there to do checkups.

At least I have one group of animals that looks after its own water. Bees will regulate the amount of water they take out of the air inside the hive and they will not need to come outside to drink. Aren’t they sweet when they sleep?



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