Ten Hacks to Keep Your Chicken Water Thawed this Winter
Keeping the water thawed in the coop during cold weather is a big fat pain. But it doesn’t have to be. There ARE solutions. Most of them are easy and inexpensive. Here’s a list of TEN different hacks to keep your chicken water thawed this winter that will have you singing all winter long (maybe even to the chickens).
Chicken Water Thawing Hacks That Require Electricity
Adding electricity is an easy way to add in all sorts of helpful things to the coop. These first solutions do require some sort of electricity (even if just by running an extension cord out there).
Use a Light Bulb and a Brick
This solution is super easy and costs less than five bucks. It’s also one I’ve used in my coop for many winters with success. You just need a few simple supplies. Get the easy peasy directions here.
Use a Dog Bowl Water Heater
Heated dog bowls (like this) come in various sizes and work great to keep a nice bowl of water thawed for the flock. Bonus points if you have ducks: they love the ‘heated hot tub’ and jump right in.
Water Cooler + Aquarium Heater
This thawing solution requires a water cooler (like this), an aquarium heater (like this), some PVC pipe and other miscellaneous supplies. The video is a very good step-by-step tutorial if you’d like to make one of your own. I think this one looks COOL and I’d like to try it!
Submersible Bird Bath De-Icer
These handy little heating elements (like this) are great to submerge in water (they’re intended to use to keep a bird bath from freezing in the winter). You could put it inside your chicken waterer, but how i use them is to place them underneath the waterer (I wrap it in an old dish towel to give it one layer of ‘padding’. It works great. I’ve used this option for several winters (after a nature shop gave me one to try out) and LOVE it. The element doesn’t get very hot, but just enough to keep the water from freezing. (While it seems kinda flimsy to look at, I’ve used the same one for three winters and it’s still going strong). Bonus points if you have bees: I have a friend who uses these to help keep his hives warm in the winter by setting it underneath the hive.
Water Heater for a Nipple Watering System
Here’s a great solution for those of you that have nipple waterers using an Ultimate Bucket Heater. This video offers great step-by-step instructions (and helpful hints) for putting the bucket heater to work for you in your nipper water system.
One Helpful Accessory for ANY of your electric thawing solutions: a thermostat plug in (like this) The nice thing about this device (besides the fact that it’s very inexpensive) is that it will automatically turn on/off the electrical current to your chicken water as the temperature rises and falls (it turns on at 35 degrees and back off at 45 degrees).
Chicken Water Thawing Hacks That Don’t Require Electricity
Now, I realize that not everyone has access to electricity in their coop. Or even if they could rig it up, they don’t want to! Here are some solutions I rounded up for folks that fall into this category for whatever reason.
Use an Old Tire (and Some Insulation)
An old tire will absorb sunshine and the insulation will help keep things warm enough to keep the water thawed. Here’s some simple instructions:
Harnessing Solar Power
There are several ways to use the sun to your advantage to help keep chicken water thawed. Here’s a quick list:
Using Black Rubber Buckets (the black rubber absorbs the heat)
Creating a Mini-Greenhouse Affect with Old Windows (you need two windows wired together on the long side of the window and placed like a ‘tent’ or V-shaped. Place this in a sunny location and place the water inside. The windows will help keep the water from freezing.)
Make a (simple) solar container in which to place the water. You can see how here:
Using Ping Pong Balls
The theory in this hack is that the ping-pong balls move around on the surface of the water, helping to keep it from freezing. In order to try this hack out, you’d need a bucket water container and not a traditional chicken waterer. Then, throw a handful of ping-pong balls in the bucket and see what happens!
Salt Water Bottles
This particular solution has mixed reviews. Some people swear by it, others say it doesn’t work. I’m intrigued just by the fact that there are so many opinions so I’m going to try it when we get freezing temperatures and see what I think of it.
How it works: Fill up 32 oz PLASTIC bottle with 3 cups of plain old table salt (the other kinds apparently don’t work as well) and then fill the bottle with water and stick it in your water bucket. The salt water in the bottle will keep the water for the chickens thawed as it’s presence in the water lowers the temperature in which the water will freeze. Because this is such an easy hack, made with recycled materials and cheap salt, it seems a worthy experiment to me.
Some folks report that they use those little flat, square hand warmers (like this) under their chicken water to keep it thawed during freezing temperatures. Where I live, this might not be a bad idea to try (as we don’t get more than a couple of weeks of freezing weather), but it might be kind of spendy if you have a solid winter of freezing temps and more than one water container (as they’re only like 12 hour heaters).
I said I was giving you TEN hacks to keep your chicken water thawed this winter, but I lied. There’s actually twelve ideas to try out. There should be something for everyone this way! Regardless of what you do, make sure your flock has drinkable water all winter. Even though they don’t drink as much water in the winter, they still need it and it’s still an important part of a healthy flock life.
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