Is the garden hose making my chickens sick?

Tummy troubles = runny droppings = messy bottoms.

Well, not exactly tummy, but digestive system troubles.  Tummy just sounds better than crop, proventriculus (my favorite), or gizzard.

Worms? Giardia? Too much bad stuff in the digestive system? Not enough good stuff? The girls seem to have had trouble this spring & summer with everything that involves their little digestive system.

I try really hard to keep things clean.  I firmly believe if I wouldn’t sit somewhere they sit or drink out of a container they drink out of, they shouldn’t either.  I do sit with them, but I don’t share their waterers.  Yuck!  I mean, if I had to drink out of it, would it be something I felt safe doing?  Their waterers are cleaned every day and their environment is kept as clean as possible. If I could clean the dirt, I would.  The same goes for their food.  I wouldn’t eat spoiled food, so I make sure they aren’t either.  What am I doing wrong?

With our digestive problems, we think first about what we’ve eaten and have been drinking.  Spoiled food?  Unwashed dishes and glasses?  Drinking out of the garden hose?  Gross!  I wouldn’t drink out of the hose and now completely understand why my mom had such a problem with me doing that as a child.

The chickens have been drinking water from hose since they were babies.  Why did it just now occur to me that could be a large part of the problem?  I searched for a new garden hose and quickly found I have likely been contributing to all sorts of health problems with lead, phthalates, and who knows what else with the hoses we’ve used for chickens and vegetables.  Even some drinking water safe garden hoses have nasty contaminants.  I read the Ecology Center’s Garden Hose Study 2016.  The results are scary.

It wasn’t easy to find a safe garden hose.  Each had one problem or another, such as a hose made with drinking water safe materials but unsafe metal parts.  I went with a drinking water hose instead of a drinking water safe garden hose and will hope for the best.

Even more difficult has been finding a drinking water safe hose nozzle.  What’s the point of having a safe hose with a toxic nozzle on it?  I found the drinking water safe Scotts Adjustable Spray Nozzle and it works really well, but it takes both hands to twist on & off.  I need one with a trigger and found the Swan 9-Pattern Spray Nozzle.  They no longer make the Scotts version but promised that one is lead-free, so I will just hope for the best for that too.  At least these options are safer than others.

What about the feeders and waterers themselves?  We buy ours from Tractor Supply and they don’t list anything on their website about being drinking water safe (or unsafe).  I have emailed the manufacturer and will keep you posted!

Update: The manufacturer of the poultry drinkers we buy at Tractor Supply states they are “Prop 65 compliant”.

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