Well, we are still in the middle of winter in Upstate New York. For the first time, we have chickens to consider.
Gone are the days of relishing a big Nor-easter. Gone are the days of scoffing at near-zero temperatures. (Ha! We are hardy peoples. What’s a little snow squall?) Gone are the mornings of waking up to a blanket of the whitest snow and thinking only of how pretty it is. Gone, gone, gone.
I still enjoy the seasons and think snow is pretty, but I have a bigger weight on my mind now.
Our challenge has been finding the right way to keep them “watered” and to keep said water from freezing. At night we remove the water from the coop. Reason: keeping coop dry on inside is essential in winter to help avoid conditions that could cause frostbite on combs and waddles. Bekah, another chicken keeper and blogger, made the recommendation and we believe it’s a good one.
During the day, however, we put a waterer in the coop and a hanging waterer under the coop out of the wind. In the beginning, we were going out several times a day to clear out the ice and/or add a little warm water to the hanging waterer (in particular). Not ideal. The water could freeze pretty quickly in both places.
First, we bought a heated waterer base. Actually, it was listed as a “Universal Waterer Deicer” at Tractor Supply. I brought it home and opened the box. I took it out. It seemed… huge. No, this was not going to work. Back to Tractor Supply to return it before the item touched The Chickery.
Next up: a heated plastic “dog water bowl” per the recommendation of staff at Tractor Supply. This we used for a little over a week, but it mostly just collected dirt and feathers. It didn’t feel sanitary (enough). So we pulled that out. But, I do think for some set-ups it’s a viable, inexpensive option – it just didn’t go well with our coop run configuration.
As I had a coupon at Tractor Supply and bought it for just over $16, we kept the bowl. Who knows, we might find a use for it. You can also get it on Amazon.
Third time was a charm – we think. As I type this, it’s been a week of using the “Heated Poultry Fount.” This is working better. We ran a heavy-duty extension cord out to the coop run and the fount sits under the ramp to the coop. We wrapped plastic and tape around the plugs and work to keep the fount out of the elements (to some success). It’s not perfect, but it’s keeping the water from freezing.
I want to add that we still put a fresh waterer in the coop all day (although, I’m not sure if it’s really being used or if it’s just being filled with pine shavings for sport) AND we include a fresh hanging water under the coop every morning. And we check those both throughout the day to combat ice. Mr. Gordon was a little like… So, you are still putting out the other water? (After we installed the heated fount.)
Yes, Mr. Gordon, yes we are. I’m compulsive and you know it.
Here are some photos. Note, I’m showing you the bottom and the cap that you can remove to refill the water FROM the bottom, but I don’t do it that way. I take it apart and wash it.
So That’s What We’ve Done
What about you? How do you keep the chicken water from freezing if you are in a climate that gets as cold ours (or colder)? Share a tip / idea in the comments below! I’d love to learn some more good ideas!
In Other News…
Gert’s feathers are growing back in. Thank goodness! But don’t worry, the chickens still want to keep me on my toes. It seems that at least one other Barred Rock and two Australorps thought it would be amusing to do a soft molt in the cold weather. (face palm)
And finally… The Girls say hello. 🙂
February Blog Drop
This post is part of the February Blog Drop! You might also enjoy:
I do pretty much the same thing…I remove the water from the coop at night and it has helped with keeping the girls from getting frost bite. I was putting some of my homemade salve on their combs at night when it was very cold out, but I stopped doing that now that the nights are in the high teens+.
I don’t have a heater for the water. I only have a waterer in the coop. I just check on it several times throughout the day. I figure it gives me a chance to check on them in these frigid temps. I start off with a clean waterer filled with warm water. Then each time it freezes I just dump it and give them more warm water. If it just has ice in it but it’s not frozen solid, I just skim out the ice. It’s working. If I let them out for the day, I will put a bowl of water on the back porch. They love that!
Hi Kristin! It’s definitely been a challenge, and it makes me wonder what we might do for next year. I’m noodling on a way to keep water in the coop, blocked off at night, but in the day time, “opened up” for easy access. Because of how our coop is built (not that I’m complaining), I’ve not found a way to keep them shut inside all day on those wicked deep-freeze days. I have been building “an addition” in my head. I think it might take a bit of convincing for Mr. Gordon to go for it, though.
Anyhow, we do what you do and have that heated waterer outdoors. Not ideal, but it’s getting us through. Today might be interesting, though. Last night when I closed them up, I wrapped boxes around the waterer and along the coop run fence. We were supposed to get hit with snow last night. It’s still dark out, but I can tell we got a few more inches on top of what we had. Hopefully my efforts blocked some of the drift.
Keep warm and well-feathered! 😉