One of my least favorite parts of having animals is taking care of their water- especially in winter. I know I shouldn’t complain- we’ve had a very mild winter here up until the last week or so. And I don’t have to hike down to the stream to break ice and drag up water for the entire household! But collecting icy water containers, thawing them, refilling and subsequently splashing them all over yourself can be just so stinkin’ cold.
We don’t have any running water near any of our animals right now, so any thawing or refilling has to happen inside the house at the moment. The upside of my morning rounds is that I get a little exercise while I hike back and forth! However, hike or no hike, the animals need fresh water.
So, here’s my current winter water routine, for better or worse- as well as some improvements that I hope we can implement before the season is over. This post contains affiliate links.
Chickens– Right now, I’m just thawing and refilling a small water container in their coop on a daily basis. BUT we really need to break out the homemade waterer my husband made them last year. He took a five gallon bucket, drilled holes in the bottom, attached water nippers, and put an electric water heater inside. It was beautiful. We never had to thaw their water once that thing was set up. If you prefer to skip the DIY process, you can buy a pre-made heated waterer here.
Rabbits– Each morning I remove the rabbits’ bottles and bring them inside. I fill up a five gallon bucket with hot water and let the bottles thaw in there while I tend to the chickens. This doesn’t take too long, but you can purchase heated water bottles if you prefer a more automated system. If it were me, I’d rather spend a few minutes thawing than $50 for two water bottles. 😉
Goats– After giving the rabbits their bottles back, I was carrying over the bucket of water to pour into the goats’ frozen water tub. Then I would try to chip away the remaining ice with a shovel. However, I found that as the weather got colder, this work became more and more in vain. The bottom of the tub was always solid ice, and I only added to what I would have to thaw the next day by pouring more hot water on top of it.
I finally got smart and just started bringing the goats a big kitchen-bowl full of water each morning. That’s much easier to handle- and to thaw out if it gets frozen. Of course, an electric water heater for their tub would also be an option.
We don’t have a perfect system down yet, but at the very least we know there are options available to make our watering chores more a bit easier.
Here’s some more reading on fresh water for your animals: