Free Range Easy Fill Drinker, Design Flaw. An Updated Review

There is a problem with this drinker, I’m disappointed to report a major design flaw that needs to be addressed. I used this drinker for about a week and kept finding the tank full and the tray dry. This is a death sentence in Phoenix where temps are 110+. There isn’t a vent in the cover, causing a vacuum and therefore a stoppage of water flow. I drilled a couple of holes in the lid and now it’s working nicely.

I thought the Free Range Easy Fill Drinker was a good choice for our farm because it held 3.5 gallons of water, keeping it cooler longer when the temps are extreme. For the price, I expected more, and now it’s up $10+ dollars!

I won’t tell you not to buy this drinker, but be prepared to drill a few holes in the cover or you’ll find your birds without water.

FYI: I’ve contacted the manufacturer about this problem.

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Little Giant Poultry Drinker, Solving the Overflow Problem

Many people are complaining this drinker overflows and leaves their birds without water, but there’s a simple fix to this problem! This drinker really is a good product, but there’s a trick to keeping it from leaking everywhere. I sent my first one back, the second ended up in the shed on a shelf. But now I use it every day and love it.

Solution to Overflowing

First of all, I’m sure you already know it’s important to place the drinker on level ground, and up on a cinder block is good practice too. But here’s the real trick to stop it from overflowing. After you fill the drinker full, loosely tighten the cover on top. Remove the black cap on side allowing the fountain to fill. While it’s filling, loosen the black cover on top (kind of a lot) then tighten it again. This will create the vacuum needed to stop it from overflowing. That’s it!

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Solutions for Chicks Pecking Each Other

Let’s start at the beginning with chicks in the brooder. Chicks don’t just peck each other for lack of something to do. There is an underlying problem causing them stress and/or aggravation. As any living creature, the first and foremost necessity for well being is comfort.

Providing chick starter crumbles and fresh water is a given, so we can certainly rule out hunger as the stress factor. It is my opinion there are two other very important factors to consider. Living environment and lighting, with significant emphasis on the latter. Overcrowding may or may not be the culprit in their acquired pecking behavior. However, if ample space is not provided away from a heat source, comfort is indeed compromised.

Always provide more than one feeder so weaker birds are not bullied. It only takes one drop of blood for the pecking disaster to begin, remember chickens are in fact cannibals. Also, by week 3, keep them busy with offerings of green grass, especially when you witness aggression.

Now let’s get to the nitty gritty of the pecking problem. Lighting, lighting, lighting! A brooder lamp is necessary for warmth but it shouldn’t be a blast of blinding light. Especially if you have the chicks in a small brooder and there’s no way to escape the annoyance.

I’m not at all a fan of the clear white bulbs and switched a long time ago to RED. They provide a calming environment, and as a bonus any minor pecking that’s caused an injury is better disguised under a red lamp.

You may want to make the switch from heat lamps altogether and switch to radiant heat from a Brinsea brooder. This will solve your fluctuating temperature problem, and providing you have a good number of chicks, it will be sufficient in keeping them warm.

Note: If it’s brutal cold… you can supplement with a low wattage red heat lamp. Low wattage heat bulbs are sold for reptiles, I usually use a 50 or 100 watt, depending on how cold it is.

For injuries, no matter how slight, I use a product called Blu-Kote. It has healing agents and the purple dye in the treatment hides the battle wounds. You’ll find this product at your local feed store.

I’m convinced that happy and content chickens start in the brooder. It’s easy to tell if the brooder has comfort zones. You should see some birds huddled together under the heat source, some resting alone, some scratching in the litter, and some eating. Watch your chicks, their behavior says it all!

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Chickens: Intervention and Management of Problematic Pecking

Stressful Conditions Create Unhappy Chickens and Bad Behavior

Pecking problems can begin even when chicks are still in the brooder. At this age they start pecking the toes of other chicks. When pecking occurs in older birds, they tend to peck the backs, heads, and vent areas.  Whether your birds are chicks, pullets, or mature chickens, pecking can turn into a serious matter without intervention.

Pinpointing the Problem

Normal behavior of chickens does include establishing a pecking order. So it’s important to watch your flock to learn the difference between normal and problematic pecking. It’s less likely to have a pecking problem if your flock is uniform in size, age, and breed. All your birds should be in good health as well; those that show signs of weakness are more apt to be a victim of aggressive behavior.

When persistent pecking is observed, check your flock’s environment. Poor living conditions or inadequate nutrition can be a factor in bad behavior. Make sure all members of the flock have access to food and water, even if it means putting it in more than one place. Hens do not take kindly to a shortage of nest boxes either; place them in various areas with easy access.

When there’s excessive pecking brewing in the brooder, it may be something as simple as lighting. Improper or undesirable lighting in the brooder can cause stress, If you’re using clear bulbs in the brooder, switch to red. Check the temperature in their environment, if it’s too hot, or cold, this can contribute to pecking. Adequate space is also vital, whether in the brooder or the coop.

Chickens in Coop

Last but not least, check for parasites. Examine your birds, their droppings, the coop, and treat if necessary.
Pecking habits and cannibalism occur when birds are under stress and unhappy.
Take a good look at the environment that has been created for them. Is it what your chickens need to live in harmony?

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