7 Best Ways to Keep Your Chickens’ Water From Freezing
Raising chickens for meat, eggs, or just for insect control is a time honored tradition that is rising in popularity every year. More and more socially conscious consumers are looking to support local and humane poultry farms. Homesteading is also on the rise as people seek ways to shorten the distance from farm to table and become more self-sufficient. Tending a year-round flock can present some challenges when winter rolls around, especially for your water sources. Luckily, there are some simple, and inexpensive ways you can keep your chickens water from freezing.
1. Here Comes the Sun
Harnessing the power of the sun is an effective and sustainable way to heat your chickens’ water. Aside from freeze protection, keeping your waterer outside in a sunny chicken run has many advantages for the health of your flock. According to top farming distributor IFA (Intermountain Farmer’s Association) “The more daylight the chickens receive, the more eggs they produce.” Placing your chickens’ water outside in the sun also keeps your coop nice and dry. IFA also points out that “wet coops, especially those bedded in straw or hay, invite mites or lice” and “condensation will remain in the coop and can lead to sickness (and even frostbite) in your chickens.”
Trading out your plastic or metal waterer for a black rubber tub is an easy way to give your chickens an edge over the cold. A black rubber water tub placed in a sunny spot will absorb heat from the sun throughout the day. Depending upon how cold it gets at night, the residual heat should be enough to at least save you from making multiple trips outside to replace the water every day. Black rubber tubs also have a larger surface area and will take longer to freeze over than other waterers. Setting your waterer on top of a surface of dark gravel can also help soak up residual heat from the sun and provide nice drainage around the waterer to keep your chickens’ feet dry.
2. Gotta keep ‘em insulated
Another solar based method is to place your black rubber tub within an old tire. First pack some insulating material (like straw or shavings) in the negative space around the inside of the tire. Place some wooden blocks down inside the tire and place your back rubber tub on top of the blocks. As an added benefit, the chickens will be able to hop up on the tire to drink and give their feet a break from the snow.
3. Shake it Up
A layer of ice blocking the surface of the water is the first sign of trouble, especially if it is too thick for the chickens to peck through. Simply place a few ping pong balls on the surface of the water, and the chickens will do the rest. As they curiously peck at the ping pong balls, they will agitate the surface of the water and help prevent ice from forming. This method is most effective when combined with the black rubber tub.
4. It’s a Green…house
For an added dose of solar power, try constructing a rudimentary greenhouse enclosure. Using either panes of plexi-glass or clear greenhouse plastic, enclose a small area for your chickens, their water, and their feed. Your chickens will have a warm enjoyable sun-room to socialize in, and you will get a break from constantly changing out their frozen water.
5. Add The Secret Ingredient
Just adding a few cap-fuls of apple cider vinegar to your chicken’s water can raise the freezing temperature of your water by a few degrees. Apple cider vinegar freezes at 28° F instead of 32° F. This tactic won’t be as effective for extremely low temperatures but makes a difference if you live in a climate where your temperatures hover just under freezing. Apple cider vinegar can also strengthen their immune system by replacing harmful gut bacteria with helpful digestive bacteria.
6. The Old Switcheroo
Some chicken owners simply switch between 2 waterers. Keep 1 filled and inside where it can stay warm. Switching out waterers may involve more time investment than other methods but this can also help you make sure your chickens’ water is clean.
7. Suspension and Heat
Disclaimer: If used incorrectly, electricity and a chicken coop can be a dangerous combination. With hay, wood shavings, and feathers everywhere, there is an increased fire risk. Not to mention, you would risk using an electric heating source in a place that is largely unattended during the day and filled with animals that have a mind of their own.
Using a suspended nipple waterer allows you to more safely use electric heating methods and keep them out of reach of your chickens. Wrapping the top portion of your waterer in a bucket heater with adjustable temperature control can be a real winter time saver. Suspended waterers also keep your chickens’ water much cleaner than when it is stored on the ground.
Powerblanket Bucket Heaters
Our powerful bucket heaters are easy to install and remove as needed. With a heavy duty, weather resistant, vinyl shell and even heat distribution, they are perfect for freeze protection. They are specially designed for 5 gallon poly or steel buckets, giving you maximum surface area heat transfer to keep your waterer at perfect temperatures all winter long.
Powerblanket Agricultural Solutions
Here at Powerblanket, we specialize in freeze protection for a wide range of agricultural needs. We pride ourselves on serving the agricultural industry with safe heating solutions that are customizable, economical, easy to use, store, and transport. If you can build it, store it, or haul it, then Powerblanket can heat it. Contact us today to find the right agricultural heating solutions for your needs at 855-647-8978 or [email protected]