In the last few days, we have had windchill factors here in Minnesota of minus fifty degrees Fahrenheit. That said, with this being mid-February and an expected warming spell coming in a week, we assume we are almost through the worst of this winter. And, with having been through our first brutal winter with our chickens, we are glad to say that we are no longer fearful of what keeping chickens in winter would be like. Before winter started, we had all kinds of worries: Would their water freeze? Would they get frost bite or worse? Could we stand going out to tend them and collect eggs? Would they even lay eggs during the winter? Now that we are hopefully through the worst of winter, we are happy to say that everything worked out better than we could have expected.
Watering hasn't been an issue at all. We set up a heated water container inside a small, portable greenhouse. The greenhouse is in a sunny spot in the yard, is well-protected from wind and even has shelves for the chickens to perch on. The water in there has stayed thawed all winter, with the exception of during this current, extreme cold snap. But, that has not really been an issue, since we have not been letting the chickens out of their main greenhouse that contains their coop.
Most of the winter, we have been able to keep both of these greenhouses open, so that the chickens have been able to move about the whole yard and have access to both greenhouses all day. On these bitter cold days, we have been keeping the main greenhouse closed and we bring them water in a small dish several times per day. We can access that greenhouse directly from our back door, This has made taking care of them so easy. Weather has not been an issue at all. The chickens don't seem to mind it at all, but we're sure they will be happy when the weather gets nicer and they can roam the whole yard again.
They have continued to lay eggs at a great pace and are compelling us to come up with new and creative ways of cooking eggs.