Keeping waterer clean in freezing temps

May 24, 2020
Hello, quite new to chickens. Looking ahead to winter, how am I supposed to wash the waterer? Right now I hose it frequently. But usually in the winter we turn off exterior water. It's not good health practice to clean chicken equipment inside, so how do others keep everything clean when it's freezing out?

Relatedly, I currently have a galvanized double-walled waterer and a covered (but not wired) run/coop. Would it be best to get a heated base and run an extension cord? Switch to those rubber bowls and refresh multiple times a day? What is workable?

I have five birds now, but could have up to 10-12 max with my current setup.


Apr 14, 2020
I don’t run my outside water in the winter either. I save water jugs and use those to transport water to the coop. When the snow gets a few feet deep I’ll use a sled to load the water jugs for dragging out to the coop.

I have the same type of waterer and yes, you’ll want to get a heated base for it. The base works great. I had a little ice build up between the two walls of the waterer, but nothing too bad.

For cleaning you can use jugs to bring out hot soapy water. Scrub. Then rinse with fresh hot water. Not a fun chore when it’s -20F or colder, but it’s not like it takes long to do.


Jul 26, 2016
Connecticut, USA
I have two galvanized waterers 2 and 3 gallons inside my coops. I run a 100' outdoor extension cord to my coops year round for lights and a heated base.
I have a weather rated GFCI outlet outside.

I clean debris from the trough by picking up waterer and tilt it.
I thoroughly clean the waterer when nearly empty, about weekly.
I have a Pocket Hose, expands and shrinks. It gets above freezing most days in winter and that's when I turn on the outside faucet from the basement.
I have a new toilet brush used only to clean waterer (it never sees a toilet).
I use rubber bowls outside. You can bang them against the coop, drop on the ground, or bash against a rock to remove ice, or use hot water, don't slip and spill on yourself.

ETA; I also keep gallon jugs of water in my house, in case temps stay below freezing.
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The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
when I used the metal waterers on a heated base (the ones made for those waterers) the blasted waterer froze enough on the edges that the trough at the bottom was no longer filling, so my chickens were without water!

At first I just started using 2, one warming up by the wood stove while the other was in use.. but they would freeze up too fast, and so easy to get frustrated at not being able to open the frozen up waterer... and then we busted the seams on the thing... :barnie

So.... i switched to the rubber pans and a stock tank deicer.

Those rock. If they freeze solid you can easily pop the ice block out. If you get angry, you can kick the tar out of them, and they don't bust. :old

As to cleaning... no mud in winter, so they stay way cleaner than summer. Every few days, maybe a tiny rinse out. But... you have to be very careful as to where you chunk rinse water. :rolleyes:

If you do not use a heater, popping out the ice chunks usually takes any dirt filth with it. Again... pick an out of the way place to toss the ice chunks... those suckers will not melt until June... the pile can get big.


Jul 24, 2018
I have power to my coop/run so I use a heated dog bowl. It stays out in the run, so as not to add moisture to the coop.
I dump it every night and wipe it out with towel. Once a week I'll bring it in and wash with soap and water in the laundry sink.
Refill and turn on again in the morning.

I only have six hens and this works well for me.

I originally bought a heated waterer with horizontal nipples, but found that below -10C the nipples would freeze. I ended up giving it to my sister. She turns the heat on so her coop is never below -5C, so it works perfect for her.

Folly's place

9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
I use the metal waterers on heated bases, and a rubber pan outside next to the all season hydrant. The coop has electricity, all up to code, so safe outlets, GFI, wiring all in cables, everything as safe as possible.
We overwinter 35 to 45 chickens, so carrying water out there would be (and was!) miserable.
I just dump the water out a couple of times each week and refill, and yes, you want to pay attention to where those ice cubes from the rubber bowls end up!
It's enough to slip-slide out there, or plow through the snow, without carrying water. We can drive out there often enough to carry feed, or at least get there with the big tractor with feed.


Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
I don't wash out the waterer in winter at all. Well I don't ever clean it anyhow, but in winter I only dump out contents if it's not freezing, and otherwise carry out water in gallon jugs to refill.


7 Years
Jul 18, 2013
Kalispell MT
For winter I use an 11 gallon tote with lid, horizontal nipples, and a stock tank deicer. Has kept my water thawed down to -22F. With the lid on there is no way for any dirt to get into the waterer so no need to clean it out during the winter. This system will last 12 birds for over a week. Filling is easy at my place. The well house is close enough to run one of those shrinking hoses for water.

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