I haven't done a post about the chickens for a while, mostly because there hasn't been much to post about besides their egg production, they have just been quietly (or not so quietly) getting on with it! Which is great! However there is one thing which has bothered me over the last couple of weeks - the water supply. When we first got the hens we bought a cheap and cheerful, standard plastic drinker which has been a bit of a hassle. Firstly, as soon as it gets cold enough to freeze, they crack. So then they leak! They are also a pain to fill up and clean out. The third - and worst - problem is this:
The hens paddle in the trough of the drinker as when they drink and it soon gets full of mud, leaves and muck potentially with faecal contamination, meaning the chickens are reluctant to drink and if they do drink it is potentially a disease risk. If hens cannot drink enough water, they also don't eat enough, and are therefore in poorer condition, less healthy and egg production also suffers. This meant washing the trough several times a day and refilling it to provide them with fresh water. So when our second trough cracked, I decided it was time for a change for the good of the hens and also for my student loan balance and breakfast egg supply!
A sturdy galvanized drinker would stop the cracking issue but would still be open for contamination, not to mention being expensive! A more novel solution was required! After some research I came across this:
A nipple drinker attached to a standard bottle cap! A drinking nipple works in the same way as a hamster/guinea pig water bottle which you've probably seen before - the hen pecks the nipple, pushing the metal button into the cap and allowing water to come out. When the hen stops pecking, the button fall back into place and the water stops. And as the nipple is suspended and the water supply closed off, there's no chance of contamination. Simple, clean and effective. Chains of nipple drinkers on an automatic supply are used in many commercial egg farms for these very reasons. This one also costs about four quid! The rest of the materials we just had lying about.
Here's how I got ours up and running:
1. Get the nipple cap, a standard plastic water bottle, some scissors/craft knife, and some cable ties/string.
2. Unscrew the bottle cap and replace it with the nipple cap.
3. Use the scissors to cut a hole in the other end of the bottle to allow filling with a hose/watering can.
4. Choose a suitable place to attach your drinker, I chose the fence so I could fill it with our hosepipe which is close by, but you could construct some kind of stand/stake to attach it to.
5. Attach the drinker using the cable ties or string. Fill with water using the hole you cut in the top.
6. Stand back and admire your handiwork! Here's our hens investigating their new drinker:
There it is - easy, cheap and effective. Hopefully this should benefit the hens immensely and I will be rewarded with more eggs! To buy the nipple drinker cap or other equipment associated with building your own water supply, the link to the eBay shop I bought mine from is here. The item is called a Drinkit universal nipple cap - please note I am in no way affiliated with this seller, I am simply reviewing the item from my own use.
As its high time I did some kind of proper workout instead of messing around doing skills practice andstrength work, today I'm doing the WOD from CrossFit Liverpool with my own warm up and buy in thrown in there.
Dynamic stretches as always
30 Double unders
4 rounds of 30s on 30s off for each exercise for total reps:
Kettlebell swings 24kg (I had to use a dumbbell for this as I dont have any KBs)
Reps in 4 Rounds: 63
Bottom to bottom squats (rep starts and ends at the bottom of a squat)
Reps in 4 rounds: 87
Reps in 4 rounds: 122
Total Rep Score: 272
"When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win."
A run through of technique for the major lifts today, along with some general strength work.
Dynamic stretched as always, particularly focusing on opening the hips using the spiderman lunge and on stretching out the hamstrings.
3 rounds with unladen 20kg Olympic bar:
5 x deadlift
5 x sumo deadlift high pull
5 x power cleans
5 x squat cleans
5 x snatch
5 x thrusters
Focus here is on technique: engaging the hips to provide the power in each movement, trying maintain a bar in a straight vertical trajectory from the bottom of each movement to the top and maintaining correct form to minimise the risk of injury. It is important to learn correct form here using the relatively light weight of an unladen bar so that when under pressure in a workout with heavier weight you are less likely to revert to poor techniques which are potentially dangerous. If you haven't done these movements before you should get proper coaching from a qualified strength coach. Here's a useful video from techniquewod.com where coach Doug Larson goes over technique for deadlift and also some common mistakes to avoid:
Todays WOD is a strength set focusing on the back squat.
3-3-3-3-3 Back Squat
Weight: 50kg, 60kg, 70kg, 80kg, 80kg
Started low here as I haven't done this for a while and had no spotter, next time I'll start from around 70/75kg with a spotter and try to work up from there.
I used the low bar position for this exercise as opposed to the high bar position.
Here's another video, this time from CrossFit.com where top athlete Dave Lipson demos this WOD (topping out at around 525lbs or 230kg!) and gives some explanations of technique and the differences between high and low bar:
"Like it or not, we remain the possessors of
potentially strong muscle, bone, sinew, and nerve, and these hard-won
commodities demand our attention. They were too long in the making to just be
ignored, and we do so at our peril. they are the very components of our
existence, the quality of which now depends on our conscious , directed effort
at giving them the stimulus they need to stay in the condition that is normal
to them. Exercise is that stimulus "
-Starting Strength 2 (Mark Rippetoe/ Lon Kilgore)
The revision break practice skill of the day is...
The L-Hang or L-Hang Pull Up
This requires a lot of proprioceptive control, awareness and core strength among other things. Here's a great video from CrossFit San Francisco and gymnastics coach Carl Paoli at gymnasticswod.com explaining the key elements of body position for the L-hang and providing some progression exercises and scaling to help us get there:
It's also about time I fitted a proper workout in this week, so here's the WOD which I will be doing later today:
Today's WOD includes a bar complex called the Bear (sometimes called the Man Maker), it's basically a load of bar lifts combined into a continuous movement, and you count the whole thing as one rep. It consists of:
Power clean - Front squat - Push press - Back squat - Push Press - Bar to floor
There is no time limit, but the bar must not rest on the ground till you complete all 7 reps, just tap to the floor and go!
So my workout is:
5 rounds for QUALITY:
7 x Bear complex @ 40kg
10 x Double Unders
Max rep Pull ups = 17
For some inspiration, here's CrossFit beast Rob Orlando doing the Bear with just over 90kg!
To be honest, I found this tough, even though there was no time limit, my bar work and lifting has suffered from lack of training, need to get over to CrossFit more often I think! On the plus side, my double unders have improved with practice. Not surprisingly my pull ups weren't overly impressive straight after this set.
"We improve ourselves by victories over our self. There must be contests, and you must win." - Edward Gibbon