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I'm only kinda kidding. When it gets cold enough to freeze, the critters come in. I've had dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens running around the house at different points, depending on what critters we have.

There aren't any rabbits this year, the cats have the run of the house, the dog is naughty and confined to the kitchen (or a little pen attached to the back porch for out times), and the chickens are divided out between two old rabbit cages and a pet taxi for a very large dog in the bathroom.

Last time there were chickens running around, I only had one. We've got 5 this year, and none of them are particularly people-friendly. (Ille Gal was very people-friendly because she was raised in the house. Put her outside, fox ate her. Very unhappy time.) One of them appears to approve of being in the bathroom, because she gave us an egg this morning.

I'm pretty sure there are all sorts of handy gadgets and such for keeping water warm and not freezing, but what I have is the pop bottle variety, so in they came. I'm hoping to do a little expansion and such once the woodpile is down to nothing bits, Dad takes his stupid log-cutter back to his house, and Uncle hauls his trailer back home. (Why is it all in my backyard? Dad had two ginormous trees taken down about... three years ago. They've been hauling wood and brush out ever since. It's finally almost all gone!) With said expansion, I'm also hoping to arrange for a different type of watering system. Accepting suggestions for something that will stay wet in freezing weather - stuff you've used and like, please, not just heard about.

Views: 207

Comment by Rick Nichols on December 5, 2013 at 6:25pm

See my reply to your original, my hoop house is working work in progress, and the heater keeps the large water fountain perfectly thawed. BTW, the hoop house itself, (and I have seen a lot of variations) is useful for more than just chickens. Mine has a small coop inside for the chickens, steel trash can with lid for food, space for a rabbit hutch (or two if you need to separate the guys and gals) and did not cost an arm or a leg. I used Plastic Sheeting for one end, cheap 8 x 8 tarp for the other, and covered it with a transparent tarp which I ordered to fit off the internet. Three Hog Panels (Smaller openings means stronger structure) wired the edges together, and nailed them to a 8' x 12' base. I added 2"x4" frames at each end to create the doorway and the rear wall support, and put two 12' 2"x4"running the length at the top of the frames to help keep the panels from shifting under the wind and snow loads. I may have spent $500.00 overall, but it should last about 5 or 6 years. Look at the picturesI posted for my summer hen yard and the hoop house is in the picture as well.

Comment by Annette Lanniee on December 9, 2013 at 4:48pm

We have 12 hens and a rooster.  They have a rather large coop with a fenced in run that opens into a fenced in backyard.  My husband ran eletricity to the coop; we also have a solar panel for the coop and I am learning the ins-and-outs of solar power.  Once learned, the land line will be disconnected.  These two systems are not tied in, so when one is running, the other is disconnected.

Back to the waterer; mine is a 3 gal fount that we plug-in in the winters and I empty, clean, and refill every other day.  Not an off grid solution until I am comfortable with the solar.  There are some other ideas that I am testing and can share once I have the kinks ironed out.  Good luck!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on December 12, 2013 at 6:44pm

We reposted Jana's question on HOMEGROWN's Facebook page, and folks had plenty to say! Here's that convo, in three parts. Part 1 here:

  • Amber Kearney I used a cinder block and knocked out the middle part. Then put a light in the hole and put my waterer on top. Never freezes and works great!
  • Virginia Davis Heated waterers. And a red heat light in the coop.
  • Francene Kilichowski We have a heated waterer from Tractor Supply. Of course, you need electric supply - hard wired or heavy duty extension cord
  • Mike Fronczak We use 2-1 gallon waterers filled with the hottest tap water. We fill them 2x a day, usually swapping them out (we have 4 in total). The ones we bring in are ussually either empty or frozen but by the time to bring it back out its thawed, dumped out & refilled with hot water.
  • Susie LoBianco Kinsey I just go out to the coop a few times during the day to change the water. You need to gather the eggs so they don't freeze anyway so I take care of it then.
  • Amy Arnold We just knock the ice out of the water bowls and add hot water every morning.
  • Pam Mutascio We just bought a heated dog bowl and it's working perfectly! Looks like this: http://www.wag.com/.../farm-innovators-economical-round...
  • Rhonda Norton Mine under carport next to wood stove pipe so if electric goes out they still stay warm I do have one in the house next to wood stove she doesnt know shes a chicken lol
  • Dianne Bowers Welcome to chicken reality
  • M'Lynne Solarrain We just got a heated light & hung it from the roof of their coop & never had a problem with the water freezing over.
  • Anita Hayes I use soda bottles with nipple caps I ordered from the chicken fountain guy. I have PVC pipes over those bottles and have crocheted double thickness blankets to wrap around them and used safety pins to hold them in place..now my babies are not having slushies for breakfast...lol and I am in NY at base of Adirondack mtns so it is pretty cold here.
  • Joe Rupert Eat the damn chickens then get new ones in the spring
  • Melissa Vargas Rayzor Laura, thought about you and your chicks. Brrrr.....!!!
  • John Jones keeping them in your bathroom is easier than changing the water daily?? i love my animals, but that's....
  • Laura Matundan Birdbath heater in a ceramic pot dropped into the water bucket works great.
Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on December 12, 2013 at 6:45pm

And part 2:

  • Lily Shaffer A rubber livestock feeding dish works great. If it freezes just turn it upside down and dump the ice and refill. Hard plastic waters crack here in winter.
  • Melissa Vargas Rayzor My girl Laura.....she's so smart!!!!!
  • Kimberly Mallette Pete We did the same as Virginia. I suppose your region & coop or barn setup makes a difference in how effective that is long-term.
  • Nicole Williams Get a heating eliment and a medal waterer.
  • Charleen Nelin Hang a heat lamp over it.
  • Darlene Schultz I put the water in their coop and have heat lamps so it stays warm. Chickens don't lay if they are cold!
  • Cory Ann Kleist I alternate watering dishes
  • Sarah Gilbert Wordsworth I have a heated water bowl that plugs in and we change it regularly since it's not the clean nipple system we usually use. I would never keep them inside for the winter. Messy & stinky. My girls don't care until it snows, then they hang inside their coop
  • Tara McGuire Flynn We have very successfully and safely used heat tape for the bottom of waters with a box around to keep the birds away from pecking wires and any possible spill of water from hitting the heat tape although other than them being submersed they are pretty safe. Also we have very successfully used a waterbed heater by doing exactly the same thing. Currently it is -32 with a windchill of -42 here in Alberta it is working like a charm. My girls stay outside with no heat lamp. They have a well insulated coop that stays easily 15 degrees warmer than outside temps. They are handling the weather very well and get a warm mash morning and evening on top of regular food.
  • Susette Meisner-Conard why not just take a concrete birdbath top and put a birdbath warmer in it,,,,it just keeps it from freezing and won't hurt the birds.
  • Deb Mullins I use a heated dog water bowl,got it off Amazon cheaper than I could get it in town.
  • Betty Wilmott mine are in a heated hen house the entire coop is covered with tarp which makes great cheap and portable insulation and I too use a heated dog water bowl. The hen house is heated with grow and heat lamps
  • Corinne Morse Carpenter We don't have electricity in the barn so we use the "deep litter" and a black rubber water bowl buried in the straw. It's not beautiful, but hey, I'm cheap. It works ok during the day. I don't leave water in it overnight.
  • Rosalie Gawronski I deep litter, use heated dog water bowls and grow lights....I also have hens that are suitable for northern weather. I put heavy tarp around their outdoor pen which has a porch (aprox 12 x 12 area)
  • Mary Wyckoff Martin That's our coop in my profile pic. We wired the coop for two infrared lights, on the ceiling (one over the roost and one is over the nest boxes) and there is one outlet, in case we need to plug something in. We run an extension cord from our shop to the coop for the power source to the coop's wiring. We have six hens and are still getting five or six eggs per day. The temperature in the coop hasn't dipped below 45 degrees and that's when the outside temperature was twenty degrees or less and the wind was blowing. No door on their little entrance into the pen. The clean-out/access doors are insulated with styrofoam, inside. The walls and ceilings are insulated. For their outdoor pen, we just finished putting up cedar fence panels, that can be removed this Spring, (north and west sides) and a canopy of plastic panels, on top. We keep a deep cover of wood shavings in the coop and the water hasn't frozen. However, a spill on the floor (NOT insulated), in that corner, froze. We have two-inch deep dropping boards that we made (cedar frames covered in hardware cloth). I throw scratch in, occasionally, to aid in getting them to fluff up the shavings, themselves.
  • Cindy Heath Heated dog waterer and chickens don't mind cold weather as long as they can get out of rain, snow and wind. Good ventilation is most important. They do not need to be as warm as humans...they are wearing down clothing!
Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on December 12, 2013 at 6:47pm

And part 3:

  • Ro Wood Chickens are made to live outside not in a bathroom, sorry. I do not do anything to protect my girls except for the coop I made myself and a heated water unit. When chickens roost the sit close to one another and keep warm. To bring them in the house is just wrong... it goes against nature. I have never lost a chickens to the cold yet. I never had a sick chicken either.
  • Lucy Owsley-Goodman we put a simple hoop house up over ours and they are happy for the winter. Unless it gets to -10 or colder over night the water does not freeze as the hens, 18 of 'em, keep the area warm and during sunny days it will get up into the 70's for them. And as other have said they are fine outside in subfreezing weather as long as they have a dry and windless place to go such as a good coop or a hoop house
    Lucy Owsley-Goodman's photo.
  • Alli Kat If you have electricity you could also use a submersible aquarium heater. Maybe covered with a flower pot to keep them from breaking it.
  • Amanda Whinery in the category of working harder and NOT smarter...we carried five gallon buckets of hot water down and threw the frozen waterers in it until they thawed and then filled with fresh water...twice a day. It kept our flock of 40 alive ....

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