Recently we made a trip out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday. However, before we left, we needed to address the winter-time dilemma of chicken owners. What would we do about keeping the chicken waterers unfrozen? Yes, our pet sitter was going to take care of the animals again, but she had needed to deal with frozen water last time. I preferred to prevent that this time as much as possible.
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What We Are Doing
If you were around this blog last year, you may have seen my post about making a DIY cookie tin water heater. I felt like that hadn’t been the most successful for us. However, in talking with my husband, he felt some of the issue may have been due to using cheap-o lightbulbs. I thought wrapping the bottom of the coop run with plastic as I’ve seen others mention online might help too. So for our cookie tin heater, Wade got a better lightbulb. We haven’t added any plastic barrier though.
We also had to find ways to keep two more chicken waterers unfrozen in our newest chicken coop. During a prior cold snap this year, even the waterers inside that coop had frozen. On the one half, we have a gravity-style pvc pipe waterer that we built like the one in the instructable. That had completely frozen, of course on a day my husband was at work. I ended up borrowing the dogs’ outside water bucket for those chickens. On the other half, my young Cream Legbar chickens had a screwable, plastic chicken waterer. I just got the ice out and refilled that one.
But I went to searching online for ideas for keeping chicken waterers unfrozen. I’ve seen multiple mentions of using *heated pet water bowls for chickens in some facebook groups and on a blog (Fresh Eggs Daily). I also found another idea on Fresh Eggs Daily, who mentioned using a lightbulb cement block heater for keeping chicken waterers unfrozen. My husband had actually made one of these DIY cement block heaters last year, after I showed it to him on Pinterest. We hadn’t used it for keeping water unfrozen though. More as a general heater.
After I brought up these suggestions to Wade, he thought he would try placing the cement block heater against the pvc pipe of the gravity-style chicken waterer. And he thought we should get two heated pet water bowls. One for the young chickens and the other for our dogs. So that’s what we did.
According to our pet sitter, she did not have any issues with water while we were gone. But I don’t think it got as cold as the prior cold snap. Since we’ve been back, I did notice that the outside chicken waterer (the one that uses the cookie tin heater) appeared to be having some success. It doesn’t sit completely level. And on the shallow side it had frozen, but the other side was still open. Also just this week, when checking my new chicken coop, both of their waterers appeared to be fine. But a water bucket sitting in the building entry aisle had ice in it.
So at this point, not really having issues with frozen water. However, we will have to see how successful these methods are when the temps get colder. I won’t be surprised if we need to add some kind of cold barrier around the outside waterer like the plastic I previously mentioned. Also, for myself, I don’t like how dirty the chickens make the heated pet water bowl. Chickens are slobs, and the nipple-type or *poultry drinker cup watering systems stay cleaner. Right now the water bowl is directly beside their pvc pipe feeder. I’ve asked my husband if he could possibly move it. Maybe if he ends up doing that it will stay a little cleaner.
The other downside to the heated pet water bowl is emptying and refilling it. You either have to upplug it, and carry it out of the chicken coop, or take a bucket to empty and fill it with. But this is what we are doing for now. Our best setup of the three is the cinder block heater up against the pvc pipe gravity waterer. If that holds up all winter that will be nice for us. If not, we may have to put a heated water bowl in there too. Or buy another *metal chicken waterer to set on top the cinder block heater.
The methods I listed above, are not the only options for beating the winter freeze on your chickens’ water. But they are what we are trying this year. There are also selections like the *Premier Heated Poultry Waterer. It appears to be a nice choice. However, it will have a heftier price tag, than the options I listed above. Plus, if you are the DIY type, you can construct some of these yourself as well. It’s personal choice and what you can afford. Hopefully, you find some of these ideas helpful.
How do you keep your chickens’ water unfrozen in the winter? Leave a comment below.