I live in zone 6 and have a property 30 min away from where I live where I want to have some chickens. I don't have the time to drive 1h round trip each day to attend to their needs, so I have been tinkering with a set-up so daily attendance is not needed:
- PVC piping system for multiple days of grain/food (pretty straight-forward)
- Cool nesting area so eggs stay cool in the summer (pretty straight-forward)
- Water is more difficult, keeping it unfrozen in the winter. So my current thinking is: 4 inch PVC pipes that go under the group, below the frostline, PVC piping goes into a well-insulated shelter (think straw bale and plaster shelter, the height of a dog house, with small opening for chicken and one tiny window for light). I envision the shelter to be long, but most of that will be to have the PVC pipe run horizontally as to store enough water for the chickens for half a week, majority of that pipe will be unaccessible by chickens but wrapped in heavy insulation/surrounded by straw bales/plaster for insulation. Small section (uninsulated) will have chicken nipples. The idea is that the water in the ground will be warmed by the ground temperature, that water (as it is less dense), will float to the top into the shelter. That, combined with the insulation around most of the pipe would hopefully prevent the pipe from freezing.
I don't have electricity close to my suggested chicken coop and a solar set-up is not fool-proof enough to my liking. Any suggestions?