Kate Muller wrote:We build a chicken bunker for the birds in the winter. It is great as a wind break, keeps them dry, cover from predators, and it gives the birds room to spread out. It is 2 cattle panels side by side formed into an arch with clear or translucent plastic over it. It gives them approximately 8' by 6' foot space to hang out in that is not the coop. It is tall enough to walk into and we have our water, feed, dust bath and mulch hay under it. The black rubber water bowl has a bird bath heater in it on the coldest days to keep the water from freezing. The birds love it and it gets them out of the coop. The only time we have food and water in the coop is when it is actively snowing. Once the snow stops I shovel a path to the bunker and they all head on over.
Rick Knoll wrote:Just a 5 gallon bucket in a hole works surprisingly well!
Here in southern Wisconsin, previous years, I've used a heated water fount, but this year tried something new. we keep our hens (~12) in half of an unheated high tunnel (veggies in the other half.) This year I just dug a hole, placed a 5 gallon bucket in that and most of the time the water stays liquid for a few days, till get's dirty anyhow. Seems like outside temperature of about 5 deg F is critical point when freezes too much. We've had a mild winter, so hasn't been a lot mornings where have to dump out bucket (has never frozen solid) and refill with water from the hydrant, and stick back in the hole.
Another trick I've used with our sheep for late fall/early spring is using insulated "frisbees" for top of heated livestock water tank, (supposed to minimize heat loss.) I've put two of those on top of buried bucket, and that works out surprisingly well to keep water from freezing too quick also.
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