Keeping the Chicken Water from Freezing

Photo by Renee Bandy

In cold weather, it can be difficult to keep your chickens’ water from freezing.  Here are a few solutions:

  1. Store the waterers in a heated area overnight then bring them back out to the chicken coop or chicken pen each morning.  Some people  keep two sets of waterers for their chickens so that they can rotate them. These ideas work, but tend to be messy and labor intensive.
  2. Bring out warm water each morning, and use it to thaw and fill your chickens’ waterers.  This is somewhat labor intensive.  If the weather is very cold, you may have to thaw the waterers several times a day.
  3. Keep the waterer inside the coop. With the heat the chickens generate, your coop may stay warm enough to keep the water from freezing without supplemental heat.  If not, you can add supplemental heat to the coop.
  4. Use a heated poultry waterer. Heated poultry waterers are a good option if you have access to electricity near your coop. A similar option is to use a heated dog bowl, which you may be able to purchase at your local pet store.
  5. Use a heated waterer base. A heated waterer base can be used with any galvanized poultry water.  These bases should not be used with plastic waterers.

As always, be careful with any heating device used to heat waterers or chicken housing, and follow manufacturers’ directions.

The above list is by no means complete.  Do you have something that has worked well for you?  Do you have ideas for keeping the chickens’ water thawed without the use of electricity?  Leave us a comment below.

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82 Responses to Keeping the Chicken Water from Freezing

  1. I use heated bases with my metal founts, it keeps them un-frozen until it gets bellow 10*F, at which point I take a 25W heat lamp with a reflector and suspend it over the water, just close enough that the ducks can’t get to it, and that does the rest. Our coop is insulated with basically plastic, nothing fancy, and this works great! I also found that the little 3 gallon plastic ones with the heated base built in work a little better at lower temps, but don’t work too well for a large flock since they are low capacity.

  2. Dan Damron says:

    When we lived up north , just a couple feet from the Canadian border in Washington state, high up on the hill we used to call it, we would heat rocks on the wood stove and place them in the water in the morning when we went out to feed, and we would change them out when we would check them in the evening – never had a prolbem. Now we live in central Oklahoma and we just use a heated base from the local feed store, it works for almost any kind of stock, and is thermostatically controlled,

  3. Marilyn Bitz says:

    Living in southwest Wisconsin, it gets very cold here at times. I simply use a small, heavy duty plastic bucket to water my chickens. On very cold nights, I bring it into the heated shop, then refill with warm water in the morning and return it to the coop. If outside temps are warmer–in the 2o’s or so, it won’t freeze in the hen house. It works very well. During the summer months, I use a regular chicken waterer. Cheap, and very little extra work.

    • Marilyn Bitz says:

      Need to add to my earlier post that even on days when the temps are in the single digits or even below zero, the bucket gets very little ice on it because the water is all together in one place, not a small amount in the bottom of a waterer which freezes faster. Even without an insulated hen house, the water has never frozen solid; they manage to keep a place pecked open.

  4. Patty Plummer says:

    I have it all figured out, I installed my outdoor wood stove next to the chicken/goose coop. Had a faucet installed in the return line for the hot water to the hose; attach hose, fill up swimming pool, chickens drink, geese have a warm swim and all are happy. The hose stores inside the back opening of the stove and is never frozen, although I am thinking of purchasing a hose more suited to the hot water, since regular hoses get soft over time. Next time add hot water to frozen water in pool, perfect temp and the swimming begins again…. I know this isn’t a typical or cost effective solution for most, but I was sure the readers would appreciate a little humor added in.

  5. natur Al says:

    For those without electricity, consider a sustainable, consistent natural heat solution: compost barrel. Chicken waste mixed with sawdust and organic matter will continue to give off heat as it decomposes. Place it where the sun can hit it through a window. You’ll be surprised at the amount of heat accumulated in a small well-insulated coop.

    • McMurray Staff says:

      Before using this approach, we recommend some consideration be given to what types of gases are being released by the composting process and whether or not those gases might be harmful to the flock.

  6. Carla says:

    Has anyone ever used an old crock pot? I have two orphan kittens in my chicken coop for the winter and have a small (one quart??) crock pot that I use for their water. It doesn’t get too hot but it doesn’t freeze either. I empty it every day and put in fresh water. A small amount evaporates, but if I fill it twice a day, it doesn’t get close to being dry. Could you use a bigger one for chickens? Maybe you have one with a bad lid? You might have to cover the cord part, but wouldn’t this work as well? We raise broilers in the summer so don’t have a problem with winter water, although we are considering getting some laying hens this year. I have been reading these blogs for information. Thanks so much!!! Carla in Iowa

  7. james m gideon says:

    Heated devices are expensive. I have found a simple 60W bulb with shield is sufficient.

  8. William S. Westcott says:

    I took a large clay pot that you would plant flowers in. I also got a Teflon frying pan with a Diameter larger than the planter top diameter. I drilled a hole in the center of the pan large enough so a piece of all thread from an old lamp will fit through. I cut the all thread about 3″ long. I run the lamp cord threw it and attached the lite socket. I put a 60 watt flood lamp bulb in it. I dug a hole about 3″ deep and large enough around so the pan would fit down in it. I took the flower pot, turned it upside down, and put it over the bulb. It fits into the frying pan, and then I put dirt around to cover the pan. Plug it in, turn it on, and place your waterer on top. A picture would be better and easier to understand.

  9. Paul says:

    I live in Northeastern Oklahoma. It does get very cold here during the winter months. Highs will be in the 20′s, lows near zero, and wind chills well below that. I have a 12X12 chicken house but our birds are free range. Inside, I keep fresh straw down and a bright 100 watt bulb set on a timer to give a minimum of 10 hours of “light” for the girls to lay. The water is kept in galvanized water containers. So far, we have not had a problem with it freezing. The coop being only a 12X12 stays fairly warm when the birds are inside. The straw also helps as insulation.

    When we DO have problems with temps too low, we simply put a heat bulb above it with a switch to it and watch the weather channel! Flip it on if it looks bad. Keep it off if not.

    Next project will be catching the rain water off the building in barrels and making a siphon system to water the birds with using gravity flow. ***SIGH*** can’t wait for spring!

  10. sheryl says:

    I put a heat lamp in my chicken coop, it serves a duel purpose. I provides artificial light which increases my egg production at the same time when turned directly at the dish pan filled with water it keeps it from freezing, I have found conventional waters freeze all the time a plastic dishpan filled with 3 gallons of H2O and a heat lamp has not frozen yet.

  11. Daiton T. says:

    I had this problem and what I did was I bought a cheap plastic dog mat that was heated and stuck it under my plastic waterer, and it works great. It’s cord has a metal spring around it so my chickens can’t pack at it. The pad is waterproof so I don’t have to worry about spillage. I even find the “kids” sitting on it sometimes! :)

  12. Charles Davis says:

    A good way to saved money take a 110 volt thermostat and a heat bulb that comes on at low setting – 30 degree; this will give your chickens a little light, and the water will not freeze.

  13. Scott Dobbins says:

    I built what I call a block heater. I made it up out of materials I had around my house. If you have the tools it works well and is rather inexpensive. It is constructed out of a concrete block, a light bulb socket, extension cord, metal flashing, and some spray-in insulation. First I reduced the block from a whole block to 1/2 of a block. Then I bored a hole in one end of the block. Using an electrical cord I cut off one end of, I wired up the bulb socket so the light bulb will be inside the block. The flashing is used to deflect the heat upward, the insulation is inside the block below the bulb to reduce cold temp from the ground. I have 5 gallon metal, must be metal, waterers that I set on top of the block. I plug the extension cord into a Thermocube. The Thermocube turns the light on at 35 degrees and off at 45 degrees. I have been using three of them for several years. I have to replace 40 watt bulbs occasionally, but otherwise it works well. I found in the southern climate I live in bulbs above 40 watt were not necessary. If I lived up north maybe a 60 watt. The block is an 8 inch block. The waterer sits on top of it and is up off the ground an at a good drinking height for my large breed chickens.

    • sandy says:

      My husband did something almost like this. He built a frame, put heat trace in, hooked it to a plug, then covered it with
      cement, making a hot rock. After it dried, he removed the frame. We put the waterer on it, I have also noticed that the chickens like to stand on it.

  14. Donna says:

    I’ve seen my chickens eat ice when water’s not available. They just peck it and break off a piece and eat it!

  15. cynthia boggs says:

    I have battled the frozen water issue for four years. I knew there had to be an easier way that carrying out five gallons of water a couple times a day. FINALLY I think I have figured it out. I had a huge livestock waterer from when I had horses. I also had the heater thing you put in to keep it from freezing. Last evening I pushed the huge waterer out there, filled the thing full of water before the hose froze, put the defroster inside, and guess what, when I got up this morning the water was not frozen.

    My plan is this:
    1. I took one of my five gallon poultry waterers in it we will see if it freezes tonight
    2. I can easily dunk the waterers into the unfrozen water and fill them up and not have to carry water all the way out there. Hopefully the hose will defrost before I run out of water :0…… I am interested to see if the waterer, poultry, freezes after being in there tonight if it doesn’t I sure will be happy!!!

  16. Wendy says:

    We live in NH, and it gets COLD. We use the rubber feeding bowls, and they work great. Like somebody else said, just turn them over and lightly step on them and the ice will come right out. We water in the morning, and for the most part it doesn’t freeze during the day unless it gets really cold. Also we now dump the water out at night. They go to roost at night and don’t drink anyway. We do the same with the rabbits. We water them in plastic crock bowls during the morning, but not until after they get fed. In the late afternoon we dump out the extra water. Don’t put warm water in those plastic crock bowls in very cold weather, as the difference in temp will tend to crack the bowls. We use to bring everything in to thaw it out – what a pain. It does take time to dump the water, but we do it in pails and then give it to the ducks for their last watering of the day.

    There is no way you can have heated bowls for a lot of rabbits! Also I never use water bottles for rabbits. My rabbits drink a lot of water, and those things are just frustrating for them to have to drink from. They are a pain to keep clean, will sometimes leak, and then if they freeze it is additional work.

  17. Pat says:

    This is a reply to Dawn, who wanted to see what a fruitcake/ cookie tin water warmer looks like: Go the website http://www.backyardchickens.com. Go the the FORUM page, and in the search box, type in: cookie tin water heater. Click on the link, and it will show you what they look like, and how to make them. I made one, and it works great.

  18. OK, everyone has great ideas, here’s my 2 cents worth. We live in the mountains of SW Virginia and like everyone, this winter is proving to be brutal. We started with the 2 waterers, bring out a fresh one in the morning, take in the frozen one and thaw it out, take it back in the evening, etc. It works! I use the red bottom gallon waterers from Tractor Supply. We have no electricity at the hen house, but my girls want out each morning. The ducks insist! So I bought the blue heated dog waterer from Tractor Supply for $19.95…it’s on sale often. OMG, what a lifesaver. The gals come up to the house all day long and drink. I also have rabbits and ferrets and have struggled with keeping their water from freezing. I gave up! At night all water bottles come in and are brought back out in the AM. This works and the critters have no problems. By the way, hot/warm water freezes twice as fast as cold! I experimented this past weekend. Stick with cold water. Happy Holidays!

  19. Ev says:

    I don’t get this warm water freezing faster than cold water thing. Warm water will not freeze until it loses it’s heat and becomes cold water. So in the end it is cold water freezing, not warm water. So what can be the difference?

    A tip you must all be using… pour a little of your warm water over the outside of your frozen water dish and the ice slides right out. No lugging a chunk of ice back to the house to thaw. It takes only about a cup full of water for a metal watering dish, maybe two cupfuls for a plastic one.

    • ms says:

      Yes, hot water can freeze first – this phenomenon is know as the “Mpemba effect”.

      • Randy says:

        I once did this experiment. At 30 degreesF, cold water will freeze first. It has to be much colder before the hot water will freeze first.

    • Ray says:

      I use the rubber feed tubs from TSC for winter water. If they freeze, the ice breaks right out and they are ready to refill with fresh water.

  20. Ann says:

    I don’t have a non-electric idea, though my husband is presently building a solar water tank for our horses, so don’t know if it could be adapted for a smaller chicken version. I suspect it wouldn’t work as well because of the smaller amount of water that wouldn’t store the heat as well. With electric, we use a magnetic oil pan heater. They are made to use with a car if you don’t have a heater plug. You can buy them at most auto parts stores. They obviously won’t work with a plastic waterer, but works great with the galvanized.

    • joy says:

      Ann, if you husband gets that solar water idea working let me know, I raise alpacas and have electric cords running a long way to keep heated buckets going for all the males.

  21. I use a seedling heat mat duck taped to a cinder block and hang a 3 gallon waterer over the heat mat. This has worked well for us and our thirty five chickens.

    • Renae says:

      This sounds like a great cost effective idea. Can you give more detailed info? Wattage of mat, height and size of waterer, distance hangs, etc.?

      Thanks so much for any info.. Renae

  22. JoAnne says:

    We started with a galvanized one that kept freezing so we ended up running a cord down to the coop and buying a heated waterer and LOVE how it works but HATE the messy sloshing around. I found it’s easier and less messy when I put it inside (still upsidedown) another large bucket to carry to the coop. I think the rotating once a day could have been a really good option for us too. Wish I got this e-mail before I made my purchase. =-)

  23. I buy small coleman type insulated coolers at thrift stores. They have a built in lid that makes them perfect for carrying from the house and I put warm water in them. They usually run around 2 to 3 dollars. You have to put a rock or log next to them so they don’t spill them but they keep the water from freezing longer.

    • Louise says:

      Hi Diane, the earlier writer is correct: warm water freezes faster than cold water. This is because when water is warmed up, the oxygen it contains is released, and the less oxygen water contains, the faster is freezes. Cold water contains much more oxygen than warm water and, in order for the cold water to freeze, it must lose some of this oxygen. As it slowly does this, it then starts to freeze. Try it, you’ll see that this is actually true. I was a non believer until I experimented myself……isn’t science cool!

  24. Diane G says:

    Those of you using the base heaters–do you set them on something? Can shavings touch the base? They sure have a large “footprint”…

    • Jim Scarlott says:

      My base heater sits right down on shavings, as the heating element is glued on the inside bottom of the pan, so when you put it down it looks like upside down feed pan. This keeps it a few inches off the bedding/shavings. It puts out very little heat so fire risk is minimal, but sweeping shavings away before putting it down couldn’t hurt, but I never bothered.

      • Diane G says:

        Thank you very much for the reply! As the item came with few instructions but prominent (yet unclear) warnings, I didn’t know what to dare try. Much appreciated!

        And I assume most fonts, like mine, are also quite a bit smaller in diameter than the base heater, eh? So that the part of the heater that sticks out beyond the edge of the font is not a problem for the chickens (or humans…)?

  25. Jim Scarlott says:

    I understand the cost factor (really I’m on disability – Very limited income) don’t know what one of those heated galvanized bases cost’s because I have been using same one for 10 years. It turns itself on only when needed to keep water from freezing so it costs pennies a day to operate only when needed. How much money do you save if you have to make 2 or 3 trips a day waste water let more cold air in house, etc. not to mention the risk you take if there is ice on the ground of falling and becoming injured. The less trips out in foul weather the better. I go out 1 X a day in bad weather with an over-sized bucket and rinse the waterer if needed then fill it after that, check feed level and fill as needed, then use same bucket to carry in the eggs. Less trips equals less chance of injury in bad weather and no extra time spent out in bad weather.

  26. Mary Blair says:

    We live in the high country at an elevation of 8,500 ft and have -30 degree F winters. Sometimes -40. Because of the bitter and windy winters, we made one of the barn stalls into a chicken coop. We insulated it really well and since only one side is an outside wall, the warmth from the chickens kept their water from freezing when electricity was off for 5 straight days last winter. It never got below 56 inside the coop. We were stunned. Yes, we have electricity out there and use heat lamps and a base heater for a galvanized waterer. But without electricity both are useless. So we put a wood stove in the next barn stall and ran the pipe through the wall and into the chicken coop, before exiting the barn. This was done for emergency heat when heavy snows make trees in the forest fall across power lines. Blackout! We have never even needed to use it. Just keep a thermometer in the coop so you know when to add heat. A well insulated coop was the thing that paid off the most for us here. The amount of eggs remained the same too, but we have what we consider cold weather hens. Silver Laced Wyandotte. The biggest problem we have in the winter is shoveling snow to the barn every day during a blizzard. We had about 7 feet last winter within a week and 6 ft on the ground at one time. We do not allow them outside when electricity is off, even though they are free range. With electricity, they can warm under heat lamps if they choose. They do go out and eat a few bites of snow when we allow them to do so. When they have to stay in the coop, we give them a good grade of alfalfa hay in a corner of the coop with horse fencing wire over it angled upward drastically so they can’t poop in it. They love it on those “stay-inside” days. We don’t give it to them any other time. This is to avoid boredom which causes pecking each other.

  27. Carol Lancaster says:

    My brother in law told me of when he was growing up they would put a metal bucket in the middle of the water trough and weigh it down with a big rock and fill it with sticks and leaves and it would melt the ice.
    I myself have found the heated dog bowl that Rural King has on sale for $12 works well.

  28. Jim Davis says:

    I use a floating stock tank heater in a garbage can to water my horse. The chickens and guineas also jump up on the side of the trash can and drink. I keep the trash can full to the top with water so the chickens don’t fall in. The warm water into the normal chicken water pails also works very well if you don’t have the electric. You need to empty the containers at night to keep the ice buildup down.

  29. Rose Fields says:

    I am lucky in that my son-in-law built a chicken coop for me that is insulated & has electricity. With the help of light bulbs that I leave on all the time even when it was zero a couple of days ago it only got to 40 degrees in my coop.
    Before I had that set up I too used the two waterer system & brought out the fresh one each morning and took in the frozen one.

  30. Sarah says:

    We moved our chickens into our barn for the winter for the first time this year. It’s old & water will definitely freeze if left alone out there but we have a really easy solution. Since there is power out there a heat light hanging from the ceiling directly over the galvanized waterer works like a charm. Depending on how cold it is you can just raise or lower the light to keep water from freezing.

  31. Elizabeth says:

    Shelley is right it has been brutally cold too early in KY. The first Winter I kept chickens I covered their portable coop completely with tarps & blankets & had 2 trouble lights w/ 25w & 40w bulbs. I used an expensive plastic chicken waterer which would last 5 hens 2 days, it would have lasted longer but you have to carry & fill it up side down & then try to get it turned over w/o spilling it, I spilled it often, had to go back in the house & start over. However, my hens laid all Winter long even when an ice storm had electric off for 4 days. Now I have a few more chickens & I am using heated double sided dog bowls & a small heated horse water bucket all sitting on coop floors or the ground. This is working fine & much easier for me. The only dirt they get in them is some straw, wood shavings & chicken feed. And I don’t cover the coop completely anymore. And they are not laying many eggs, however, I froze quite a few this Summer. I was wondering how do you keep the eggs from freezing now in the nests?

  32. Jim says:

    I have two white 50 gallon plastic barrels, and I put them up on 2 ft, wooden stands.
    I took swamp cooler drains, so I could mount faucets 6 inches above the bottom of the barrels. I use a washing machine hose to run from the barrel faucet to my water containers, which have small floats in them (I use old sinks from the landfill), with a plywood cover, with a hole 3 inch hole cut in them, with a piece of metal roofing for the roof.

    I take a 12 ft. heat tape & wrap it around the barrels, then to the faucet, then to the sink, wrap one loop of heat tapes around the sink, use good electrical tape, then duct tape to keep in place.
    I can go for weeks without having to worry about water for my chicken & duck coops.

    I add one table spoon of regular chlorine bleach to each 50 gallon barrel to keep algae away. I also cover with extra large black trash bag. I have had temperature below freezing for days without freeze up. Total cost about $25.00 (buy heat tapes in summer time). I have been using the same system for years, without replacing.

  33. Ralph Clayton says:

    I use two ordinary cement blocks with the center carefully cut out and then a flat 16 x16 brick paver block. I have then put a 60 watt bulb inside the brick. It keeps the water from freezing down to about 10 °. Of course this requires electricity, but I also like to supplement my hens with some extra lighting too. Keeps them laying when others around me have no eggs. Actually helps pay for their feed and a bit toward electric by selling the extra eggs. Everybody loves fresh eggs, and my hens love the fresh water without having to wait for me to get out their and thaw their water.

  34. Anne says:

    I agree with Trish, we invested in a heated base, and it has been the best investment yet. Especially living in Wisconsin. We have had brutal cold and its only December.

  35. Christy says:

    We have our metal waterer hung up in the chicken pen. Then we simply hang a light about 3′ above it overnight and have no more problems with freezing. The water doesn’t get hot and there is no danger of the light making contact with the water. If the light were to fall, it would unplug itself long before it hit the ground. Perfect setup.

  36. cecilia says:

    I use a heater for a bird bath under the waterer. It is works with plastic or metal and never has never frozen solid.

  37. Janet Pretzel says:

    I have two young roosters that are recking havoc in the hen house. I’m afraid that I will shoot them if they don’t stop. They keep the hens from the nest boxes, then they crow like they are laying eggs.

    • Erin says:

      I’m confused? What does that have to do with keeping the water from freezing in the winter?

    • L.Cody says:

      You have two choices- place the trouble makers in a seperate pen away from the other chickens, or give them time to gain weight and use your crock pot!
      Enjoy.

    • JoAnne says:

      Not much choice really. You will have to find a new home for one. That happened to me and there was a daily bloody battle until I finally relocated one. I was hoping everyone would just get along but no. Good luck.

    • Charles says:

      Sounds like those two roosters are Cukoo Marans!

      • Amanda McCord says:

        Are maran roosters mean tempered? I would like to start breeding marans; they are very uncommon around here. I would like to try to market them. I love their dark eggs.

  38. ALLAN COLLER says:

    I have raised Chickens all of my life and I am 59 1/2 now. I do remember when I was a kid (oh yes) packing water out to the chickens at least 2 X a day for fresh water because it froze. But I too have found about those Blue Dog heated Bowls. They work great … if you have power. I don’t, but I have run power out to the Coop, and its the only way to go, if you can do this. My Hens stay in the Coop all winter ( I have a large Coops. They do not like to go out in the snow. I keep fresh straw down, and they’re very happy. The coop is not heated. It’s a nice older coop, 12 ft X 18 ft. I have laying hens, and I do get a lot of eggs in the winter, but if they do go out in the snow, my egg production drops off – I do know this. They are free range birds in the summer. This is just my view point.

  39. Linda says:

    My chickens free range in my backyard. I use a round rubber feed bowl for water in the yard. I bought a birdbath water heater from Amazon.com for $13.99. if you spend $25.00 you get free shipping. I also got a waterproof cord connector about $5.00. I covered it in foil wrap to keep it clean and placed it in bowl with a brick on it to keep it submerged. it works perfectly. The birds gather around and drink. It never freezes, and in doesn’t run up my electric bill. I also got a heated fountain for in their coop that goes in tomorrow. Cold as it is, some birds still roost in a tree or the back porch. They love people. I treat them with bananas and watermelon and sunflower seeds. They are great pets.

  40. Karen says:

    We found that the easiest (if you have power) to fill and to clean are the heated dog bowls. We have them in the coop, in the pasture (ours free range), although we have to HIDE IT BEHIND THE HORSE TROUGH because the horses think that funny little blue thing is a toy! They are used to it, it doesn’t get as dirty as the other ones either.
    They are 23.10 on Amazon…. They work great, and there is enough water for the day and usually the night. Change in the morning, dump and refill. No unscrewing the plastic ones, trying to get them to stand up while you fill them, etc. My chickens like to dip their heads in and this seems to be easier for them than the little bit of space for their beaks that a traditional plastic or galvanized pressure waterer provide.
    Cheaper too than a galvanized waterer and a heated base. No need. Use a heated dog bowl!

    • joy says:

      I use the heated dog bowl too, works great, and on really cold days they all purch on the rim and soak up some heat from the water. (and poop in) but it easy to rinse out and refill.

  41. Ron Kalcic says:

    I agree with putting the waterer IN the chicken coop as most times the chickens are able to keep the coop above freezing. But if not, get yourself a RUBBER FEED BOWL – most people use these for cattle salt blocks in the field, or for small goats feed. If the water DOES freeze in this bowl, turn the bowl over, stomp on it (gently) once or twice, and refill. The cheap PLASTIC bowls can’t take this abuse. Check Tractor Supply SKU Number: 2229854 for an example.

    • Geneva says:

      What a good idea!! I am using an old pan that you have to beat on to get the ice out. I have the heater base, but right now the weather is too cold for it to be effective.

  42. Deanna says:

    I have a base heater for the water can in the trailer they roost in. Outside I have a kiddie pool that every morning I put about two buckets of water in, then at night I dump out the ice and start over in the morning. I have ducks, and this is the only reason I do the outside water, though the chickens like it too.

  43. joe deleo says:

    Why are people using warm water? It freezes quicker than cold. I break the ice up every morning and scoop out the chunks. They love playing with them. Refill with cold water and it doesn’t freeze in 15 deg weather until the next morning.

    • kalbano says:

      Warm water does not freeze more quickly than cold water. The rate of loss of the warmer water is higher while it is warmer. The rate is not constant, it slows as the water cools. So it makes sense to start with warm water.

      • Mark says:

        Contrary to common thought, water that has a signficant high temperature difference than the surroundings will freeze (solidify) quicker than water with a temperature closer to the surrounding temperature. The laws of thermodynamics prove this. I am a physics instructor and just recently dicussed this in lecture with a demo for students.

      • Mark says:

        Yes and no, warm water does seem to freeze more quickly than cold. It is not as dense as cold water and this is why it freezes sooner than cold. Mass wise the cold water freezes at the same rate, but because there are more water molecules in a gallon of cold water than there are in a gallon of warm water the warm water freezes solid more quickly. Ice fishermen see this when they drill a new hole in a lake. Where the water was warmer when the lake froze the first time the water is opaque due to the large air pockets. When the drilled hole fills in with the colder water from under the lake and freezes it is crystal clear due to smaller/fewer air pockets (it is also much, much harder to drill.)

      • fred says:

        You’re right. I put cold and hot water in freezer checked every 30min then every 10 min. Cold is the first to freeze. I also heard hot water freezes first an never thought any more of it, but that’s not the case.

  44. Nicol Perry says:

    I found this great idea somewhere on the web. You take two or three old tires and bolt them together in two or three spots, stuff them with sawdust or straw but leave an opening for a 2.5 or 5 gallon bucket to sit in the center. It usually works pretty well. Sometimes you have to break the ice on top if you can’t keep it out of the wind. I had one of these in my old coop which was too far from the barn for electric. I also put a large rock in the bottom in case some goof falls in….

    Another thing I have seen if you have electricity is to take an old fruitcake tin and drill a small hole in one side, take a lamp repair kit or an old lamp and attach the light fixture to the inside of the tin, run the wire through the hole seal the hole with silicone around the hole and plug it in, you can sit a metal (or plastic waterer on top depending on the wattage) and cold chickens like to cozy up to it too. I have also used a brooder lamp in a cage over top of the water bucket about 3 feet. But to me the safest way to go is to just carry fresh water out three times a day, but of course I only have 50 chickens.

  45. Sara Smith says:

    Our small barn is divided into thirds – one third for the chickens, one third for hay and other feed, etc., and the back third for a pair of goats. We do not have water or electricity in the barn, and I take a pail of water out each morning and evening. I pour half into a pan for the chickens (which is kept up and out of their bedding on a simple homemade frame with chicken wire over the top) and then put the pail with the remaining water in the goat pen. The pan and pail that turned into ice overnight are taken into the house to thaw, and I repeat the process in the evening. Everyone seems happy (except for me, who would love electricity in the barn for Christmas!). When it is a bit warmer (25 degrees F and above), the chickens prefer to go out and free range. Then their plastic poultry waterer is outside, rotated with another one if/when it freezes.

  46. Shelley says:

    we bring the water near the house and use gallon water jugs with hot water to defrost them, then we fill them with very warm water. The weather in KY has been brutally cold, and the waters are frozen every morning. We have plastic water containers so we never fill them more than half way in the winter.

  47. Elizabeth Page says:

    The only suggestion I had without power was the rotating two waterers. With power, we have used the same type red heat lamp that we use on the chicks, hung just above the waterer. it won’t be enough if it’s real bitter cold……… but it helps up to a point. This is our first year trying the heated waterer that McMurray offers.

  48. becki says:

    I love my water heater… The chickens love it even more!

  49. Cynthia says:

    I take gallon jugs, cut them open, and leave the handle and top on. I rotate them generally just in the morning. I put several rocks in the bottom, set it up on a coffee can, and hang a cookie sheet on the wall that slants over the top of it (keeps them from trying to roost on it.) This is providing enough water for 21 chickens.

  50. Carol Pettitt says:

    My husband ran an electrical line and a water line to my coop for me. Right now with the freezing temps, the water line is not much help, but we do have galvanized waterers, and after checking prices of the base heaters for them, I was a little put back, but my hubby put a regular heating pad under it…. Works great!! Note: we have 2 cement blocks that it sits on, and then the Galvanized waterer sits on it.

    • Trish says:

      The base heaters are a little expensive but they work great. I have been using the same one for 12 Winters. Definitely worth the money in my book!!!

      • Donna says:

        Many people have their chicken coop far from an electric outlet or that would work best! My hens eat ice, they just peck out a piece and eat it.

  51. Steve says:

    I do not have a suggestion for without electricity, but a good do it yourself heater. Build a light box with a hole in the top which is large enough to allow a galvanized waterer to sit slightly below the top of the box. Light with a 60 watt incandescent light bulb. In addition you can install a switch in the box so as to turn off on warmer days. Works great!!

  52. Mona Smith says:

    I have a sturdy small plastic horse pail, with a nail on the wall bent to hold the handle. Above that I nailed a flexible piece of corrugated plastic so that it slants down so they don’t perch on the pail. I add warm water each day. When it is frozen to the top, I replace it with a fresh pail and thaw the other. I don’t want a heater because of added cost. For some of us cost matters more.

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