Winter watering - rubber bowls, good or bad?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Wrightsx4, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Wrightsx4

    Wrightsx4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2012
    Northwest Michigan
    This will be our first winter with chickens. We live in Michigan so we do get freezing weather from Nov/December through March. I do not want to increase our already high electric bill and I do trust the theory that chickens will do fine in an unheated coop as long as it is not drafty but well ventilated. That part is taken care of. We have also insulated a corner grower pen as well as stacked hay on the north and west walls. We will have two flocks separated within the same coop according to age and also a separate run within the outside pen. The older hens will be in the main area and the now chicks (8 wks by November and hopefully out of my living room- although I do enjoy them now) will go into the grower pen under the nesting boxes until they're big enough to join the others. They have galvanized hanging waterers now but I'm thinking of switching to rubber bowls for winter so I can easily dump the water & ice and refill with jugs of water. I really don't want to carry the waterers in and out of the house all winter - I'm too clumsy and will spill! My question is this - will they step in the bowls and freeze their feet? I have terrible childhood memories of frostbite with our ducks and chickens. I Don't want that for my chickens. I know our setup as a kid wasn't the greatest but I don't remember how we watered. I know a lot of people swear by the rubber bowls & I like the idea. Thoughts? Other option would be buying another set of hanging waterers to alternate filling and thawing. Do the plastic ones hold up in winter? Looking at cost...$20-25 each for galvanized x 2. Also keep in mind I would be doing the same for both age groups if possible. No heat, no water heaters, nothing electric. Thank you in advance - I really appreciate your experienced feedback!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  2. Anneke

    Anneke Out Of The Brooder

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    Manitoba, Canada
    We live in Manitoba and last year was our first winter with our chickens. I can only tell you what we did and they made it trough the winter in tip top condition.
    We put a thick layer of stew on the floor so they couldn’t freeze their toes off.
    We have a large plastic chicken waterer with red saucer.
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    I found, that my chickens like to run in the water when it’s just a saucer. You can’t have that in winter, they will freeze their toes off for sure.
    We have a heating lamp above the water and this keeps the water defrosted and it will add some warmth to the coop.. You have to watch though, because to low and it will melt the plastic.
    It will add a bit to your electric bill, but not that much.
    We were very happy with the results and will do it again this year.
    Good luck!
     
  3. Wrightsx4

    Wrightsx4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Northwest Michigan
    I was worried they may run through the saucer like you said yours did. I do have a thick layer of pine shavings on the floor and hay in the nest boxes so that helps insulate. I'll add to the pine and fluff it up through the winter. I still really hate to raise my electric (it's already $200 - way too high for me to afford to increase it.) We already barely light our own house! Lol. Darkest house of anyone I know - the light in the brooder is making me stress about next month's bill.
     
  4. jules1329

    jules1329 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2012
    South-Central Kentucky
    We have one like that, too. We have two galvanized metal ones that I hate. Think how cold metal is on your hands. I wouldn't fool with that stuff in the winter for any amount of money. We'll replace ours before the week's out.
     
  5. CAjerseychick

    CAjerseychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 25, 2012
    Northern California!
    They are doing so much with solar these days (think of all those little lights you can buy at the hardware store) too bad no ones designed a solar- powered water heater....
     
  6. RiddleMe

    RiddleMe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Central Oregon
    I use a bucket/chicken nipple system year round, just add a plastic safe stock heater in the winter. However, I also put out pans of fresh water, I use the heavy duty black rubber pans designed for feeding horses, the water will freeze but you can just turn them upside down and give them a good stomp and the ice comes right out. And they don't break, they can easily take that type of abuse. Last year it wasn't uncommon for me to have a collection of ice rounds three inches thick just waiting for the weather to warm enough so they could thaw. I never worried about them getting wet, they stand in them to cool off in the summer but I think they're smart enough to stay dry in the winter.
     
  7. Wrightsx4

    Wrightsx4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2012
    Northwest Michigan

    Hi again jules1329! Didn't think about that but you're right...that will be cold. Do the plastic ones hold up to freezing then thawing though? They're cheaper so I wouldn't mind buying extras and letting them thaw in the bathtub :) til the next filling. Solar would be awesome if it could get enough sun in the coop! I have several windows besides the vents but we get so little sun here in the woods.
     
  8. Wrightsx4

    Wrightsx4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2012
    Northwest Michigan
    that's what I was curious about - I can picture them flying off the roost across the room and right into the water bowl. Poor wet things would freeze to death. I do like the ease of using them though - just not sure if they are or are not smart enough to stay out of them. Especially the younger ones.
     
  9. zinia8

    zinia8 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Reels Corner, PA.
    I used the black rubber bowls that I set on cinder block inside the coop. They knocked it over one time which resulted in frozen pine shavings on the floor. It is much easier to step the frozen bowls out than to unthaw a frozen one or two gallon water.
    My chickens didn't like to be cooped up and enjoyed being out in the snow . No frozen feet. I figured if they where cold they would go into the coop.
     
  10. RiddleMe

    RiddleMe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Central Oregon
    I don't put the water pans in the coop, I leave it outside in the run. The area by the pop door is relatively sheltered from the elements so even when there's snow on the ground they will hang out outside by the pop door, getting a drink and waiting for me to clear a path so they can go under the big tree in their run. I never have water inside the coop, so it's not like a sudden change to only have water access outside.
     

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