Winter watering

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Aug 24, 2019
i am new to chickens, they are 6 months old. Starting to think about getting ready for winter in South East Tennessee. What is the best way to water both in the coop and out of the coop in the winter?
What you do depends on whether you have electricity at the coop or can bring it to the coop using a heavy duty extension cord. If you can't get electricity then you will need to water the birds 2 or 3 times daily when it is very cold. I only have water in the run as it has a roof and 3 sides are covered in clear plastic during the winter. The birds are outside all day.

I use a tote with lid I bought from Walmart, horizontal (NOT vertical) nipples, and a stock tank deicer that is rated to work in plastic. Advantages of this system are that the birds always have clean water, the 10 gallon tote holds enough water for over a week for a dozen birds so does not need filled often, and the water stays thawed in very cold weather. Some people use a bucket. Some use a large jug. Some found some barrel type containers. Has been down to -22 F here and the water is thawed. I wouldn't think that you get anywhere near that cold during your winters but I have to admit that I really don't know your weather.

If you do decide to use a system with horizontal nipples it is best to do it soon. You want the birds to know how to get water before it gets cold. I have been using the nipples for years and found that the best way to get them to use the nipples is to take away all other sources of water. Chickens are curious. They will peck the red nipple with the shiny metal. Once one figures out that pecking gives it water, they will all watch and learn the new system.
My coop has electricity, and I use the old style galvanized waterers on electric heat plates made for that purpose. I also have an all-weather hydrant next to the coop, for easy watering all year. Love it!
For many years we carried water 150+ feet to the coop in winter, and it got old, especially on ice, or in deep snow.
Our winters are colder than yours, so maybe you will do okay without heated waterers?
I take the waterer out of the run when it gets to freezing temps, because I don't heat that one. It's only for a couple months anyway. Inside the coop I use a five gallon bucket with horizontal nipples and a 250 watt stock tank deicer. Below is a link to my article on the bucket set up.

Here's the 14 gal drum (Amazon) I use in the run with horizontal nipples. The base is the same size as a five gallon bucket, if your looking to make something bigger. I'm actually gonna make another drum and use it for my coop waterer, instead of the 5 gal bucket. So I'll use a stock tank deicer inside the drum.

Here's the drum in my run, I have 8 nipples around it.
14 gallon waterer.jpg
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