Winter Water Woes

In the summer there’s running water in my two barns, but in the winter the pipes are drained and I have to get water from the laundry room inside the house. Keeping everyone in fresh water took a lot of walking back and forth – a trip each for the two chicken waterers and another for the goat’s pail. Invariably some would spill on gloves or jeans. It was one chore that set me to cursing under my breath.

Luckily, I came up with a solution before the big storm!

This blue tub is a heated water trough designed for horses! It can hold 16 of those red buckets worth of water, a week’s worth, including what my thirsty, fussy goats require. We still have to cart water from the house, but it can be done in one fell swoop – at a day and time of our choosing (not when there’s two feet of snow falling!) When the wind is biting cold and the snow is deep, it’s such a relief to have water in the barn.

I still haven’t found a solution to keeping Candy’s waterer from freezing.  We swap her bottles twice a day; sometimes they freeze in between but it’s not a problem – she likes to drink from the chicken’s waterer.


  1. maybe you could make a sleeve for the bottle with a pocket for a hand warmer? you could even use the reusable snap ones!

  2. For our rabbit we put out a small bowl that holds about 2 cups of water. Then we just fill it morning and night. It does freeze in between but at least I know he is getting nice warm water 2 x day. I didn’t know how he would take to drinking out of the bowl that way but he just went over and started drinking! He also will drink out of the chickens waterer. It’s the funniest thing to watch him plow his way in there for a drink! I too hate to have to drag all the water out there in the winter but I guess that’s just what we do for our animals!

  3. Maybe have a tub of water heated or not then pump the water to one main water source and run the plastic tube through a dog door or crack then cover it witha small tarp so the snow doesnt cover. It seems hard but over the long weekend it could be a fun project

    • Hi…I just watched your appearance on the Martha Stewart show…4-2-10! Great job. I’m new to the chicken world. No chickens as yet. We are waiting for our house in Florida to sell and then moving to Virginia…closer to Kentucky where I was born and raised! Right now I am learning all I can about having a small flock of chickens!
      But this is about watering the chickens and goat…can you keep a long hose (2-3) in your basement and pull it out to the hen house as needed each time to water? Would that be easier than toting water?

        • Yes…LOL…I grew up in Kentucky!
          But if you kept them in the basement and put away arter each use…is that easier than hauling water? Maybe I have more to learn :)

  4. What a wonderful blog. I just came across it and have enjoyed going back and reading the older posts. The photos are very nice too. Coco is such a fancy looking bird. Like a dove wearing a chicken suit. So svelte and clean and white!

  5. I mean, how do you fill up the horse bucket when its empty? BTW I taped the show on animal planet and you and the girls were all very cute!

  6. For smaller containers of water, the pet store has very small submersible water heaters normally used for aquariums or to keep bird baths from freezing in wintertime. These are controlled by a thermostat and can be set for a low temperature, enough to keep small animals’ water from freezing. A sturdy extension cord would work for these as they don’t draw much current. They have suction cups for hanging inside the container, near the bottom. They are safe and out of the way of rabbity teeth! Just be sure you set the temperature low so that the water is not overly warm and distastful to the pet.

  7. When we had Beau Bunny in our back yard, we used a heated dog dish. The cord came wrapped in a coil of wire so the bunny couldn’t gnaw through it. We got it at the local feed store for under $20.