I need a Winter-friendly, low-maintenance watering system

LilyBird

In the Brooder
May 20, 2015
80
19
36
Ontario Canada
I live in Ontario and it gets COLD here. I need a low maintenance water system that won't freeze up on me. I'm still in the research phase of chickens...next weekend I hope to start building my coop and run. Before I do, I need to figure out what type of water system I'm going to make/use so it can be incorporated in the build.

So, I need a watering system that:
is low-maintenance
won't freeze
is low cost (we can make it)
won't drip (waste water)

What type of system would you suggest? Cups? Nipples? Bucket?

Also, if I place it in the run, will chickens go outside in the winter to drink?

Bonus points for diagrams, pictures or links!

Thanks :)
 

goodb

Songster
7 Years
Aug 27, 2013
472
59
161
My little piece of heaven!
My Coop
My Coop
I highly endorse the nipple waterers for any period other than the cold of winter. I have yet to come across anybody keeping the nipples from freezing without supplemental heat. I transition my birds to a heated waterer in the winter. Those come in several varieties but all require electricity. I know it's not what you're looking for but it's the best I have.
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
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Oregon
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Will your coop be wired with electricity?
If the water is outside the chickens will go out to get a drink - you can help make it less of an imposition on them to do so by having covered (or partially covered) run and/or being prepared to cover the snow with a layer of hay/straw should your birds indicate they would prefer it. I know the flock I currently have will spend nearly the entire day outside if the snow is covered with a little hay, but won't be out but a few minutes here and there without the hay to walk on - but previous flocks I have had spent many an Idaho winter tromping through snow without a second thought.
 

LilyBird

In the Brooder
May 20, 2015
80
19
36
Ontario Canada
I didn't think it would be possible to keep the water from freezing without electricity. We would love to look into some solar panel options if there are any. But at the very least we will run an extension cord.

Good idea with the straw on top of the snow. That makes perfect sense. I'm thinking we will put up the clear plastic sheets or shower curtains to keep the snow drifts out and I might see if I can MacGyver something for the roof. Not too sure what yet but we have time to figure that out!

As for a system, the run is going to sit up against our shed, so I'm thinking of maybe putting some kind of holding tank inside the shed and running a pipe and nipples into the run. I'm hoping having it inside the shed might help keep it flowing..or at least we will use less electricity. I was thinking something simple and easy...bird bath heater, pond pump? Anything that would keep a pond from freezing would surely keep my chicken water from freezing. But I think our biggest hassle will be how we get the water from our house to the coop. Hoses freeze in the winter...so I guess we will be carrying buckets out. Sometimes I wish we didn't live where there is snow. Lol
 

LilyBird

In the Brooder
May 20, 2015
80
19
36
Ontario Canada
Ron, I replied to your thread. Do nipples tend to freeze up in the winter?

I'm thinking I might try to go the 50 gallon barrel with pipes and nipples and use a pond heater. Is there any reason other than the nipples freezing that this wouldn't work?
 

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