Sick of frozen chicken
waterers? It's quick and easy to turn your existing waterer into
a heated waterer, some of which will keep your water liquid down to 20
below. Here are the top DIY options:
Pipe heating cable ---
Sandwiching a line of heat tape between a pair of five gallon buckets
has the side benefit of forming a lip that gives the nipples a bit of
extra protection. Waterproof heat tape can even be threaded into
PVC pipe waterers. Estimated cost --- $26.
Heated bucket waterer
--- Modifying a pre-made heated bucket to work with our chicken nipples
is one of the quickest methods of making a heated chicken waterer, and
the lip that protects the nipples is reported by one customer to keep
his water thawed down to 20 below. Estimated cost --- $50.
Stock tank deicer
--- Throwing a stock tank deicer in an existing bucket waterer is a
very dependable option since these sturdy deicers are made to deal with
freezing temperatures and constant use. Estimated cost --- $25.
Some other workable
aquarium heater plus thermocube --- Aquarium heaters are the
cheapest option, but they tend to have a short working life and to
break down at inopportune moments (shocking your birds if the glass
cracks!) Adding a thermocube to the assemblage means that the
aquarium heater only turns on when the temperature drops below 35,
making the arrangement safer and using less electricity.
Estimated cost --- $30.
Bird bath deicer --- These are
very similar to stock tank deicers, but look to be a little more
expensive. Estimated cost --- $35.
Rain gutter heater --- This is
similar to pipe heating cable and works well in PVC pipe
waterers. A quick search of the internet suggests that a rain
gutter heater costs over $100, but I could be looking in the wrong
Heat lamp --- In a pinch, a heat
lamp aimed at your waterer's nipples will keep the water from freezing
during moderately cold weather. The problem with this design is
that it's not thermostatically controlled like the other options, and
you're heating the air rather than the water, so you'll use a lot more
electricity. However, the start-up cost is very low -- $10 for
the bulb and perhaps another $10 if you don't have a reflective fixture
(and chicken keepers are likely to already have both on hand.) In
warm climates where you only see a freeze warning occasionally, this is
a very good option. We also find that adding
a light shining on the nipples is an effective way to supplement
other heating options when the temperature drops into the low teens and
freezes the nipple.
So, who won our heated
chicken waterer contest? I had to make Mark judge the contest
since I wanted to give out at least half a dozen prizes.
Congratulations to Lu Ann and Christian Shank who came up with a
design that is elegant, cheap, and effective! We'll be putting a 10
pack DIY kit in the mail to them shortly.
Ready to put together
your own heated chicken waterer? All of the designs on this page
start with our homemade chicken
starting at $15.
We recommend our 3 pack
DIY kit for making a
heated waterer for up to 50 chickens. The CD that comes with each
kit includes complete instructions to help you build our favorite
heated options without any trial and error.