another freezing water question about nipple waterers


8 Years
Jul 19, 2011
NC Foothills
My hubby bought, without my input, this ridiculus $50 3 gal heated waterer, because he thought it was the easiest answer to freezing water. It's the clear reservoir that "locks in place" (WHAT A JOKE!!) to the red base and plugs in. I have it sitting on a boot tray to keep the floor of the coop *drier* but it justbarelyfits. I hate this heated waterer and want to return it.

We just put it on our coop 2 days ago. Sloshing the nasty out of the tray yesterday wasn't easy & wasted alot of extra water. Hubby said to just clean it when it gets completely empty. Hubby is an idiot. Has to be cleaned everyday in some way. For the most part its just airborne stuff that gets into the lip of the tray since we partitioned off a corner of the coop floor with a 2X4 to keep the litter away from it. Today was my first day having to fill it back up and it wasn't pretty- what normally takes 10 min. took 35 today. After hearing me rant, I bet hubby wished he'd been smart and used preasure treated wood for the floor of the coop.

I'm really liking the idea of a nipple waterer, on the bottom of a 5. gal bucket with a lid, because I like cheap & I like using things we already have sitting around. I've looked at so many different things to keep it from freezing...

We have a birdbath heater that my MIL gave to us. Would that work in a plastic 5 gal bucket? I don't think it's thermostatically controlled, so I know I have to keep water in the bucket. Is it going to melt the bucket? I would plug up at night, unplug in the morning, unless it was going to stay at freezing or below all day. I know everyone says they don't drink at night, but I've seen mine eat at night, in the coop in the dark, so I will not be taking the water out at night, as some suggest.

Also with the 5 gal. bucket (because I like that water isn't sitting around in a tray to get nasty and then you have to dump it out, (all about some water conservation)) how do you suspend the bucket? I would be afraid that the handle would break, so I would have to build some sort of apparatus to hold it up, but then if I get new chickens that are a different size, then it might be too high, or too low..

Hubby has just called from work to tell me he's looking at metal waterers that have a flat side so they rest against a wall, and we could use with the birdbath heater and are meant to be hung so have heavy duty hangers... AGHHHHHHH!!! (FYI coop is about 8X8).

All I wanted was eggs, not a full time hobby! At this rate, we'll never break even with these chickens! My cousin who lives 1 mile away just takes them fresh water everyday. I think that might be the wise thing. Or I might keep the $50 waterer and just deal with it. What do you think????
I live in Missouri, and we've had pretty mild weather so far this winter, plus I'm pretty new to chickens, but here's my water setup. Inside the coop I have a heated dog bowl dish (they sell for about $35 new, but I got mine on craigslist for $10). I have it plugged into a thermocube and the water has never even developed an ice film on it. I did jerry-rig a little platform for it to set on from scrap lumber. One thing hubby and I learned long ago... assemble EVERYTHING with screws, not nails, 'cause it's much easier to dis-assemble and fix that way! Outside I have a waterer that I made out of one and a half inch pvc pipe, with nipples. It's on the south side of the coop so soaks up whatever sun there is and the water in it has only frozen once. I am THINKING of painting it black, but am hesitating because if I can't shade it in the summertime, I don't think the girls would appreciate scalding water.
Ugh! I had one of those. Was given to me by a friend who didn't want chickens anymore. I am SO glad I didn't pay for it. It has to be the worst designed heated watering thing I have ever seen. I swear I saw a brand on it from Satan. The only good thing about it is, it won't last very long. I got barely 3 months use out of mine before the plastic locking things on the bottom broke off.

I bought the non-heated 2 gal galvanized waterer hoping it would be easy to unfreeze if the weather got colder (we've been having a very light winter in NE). I didn't think it would freeze solid to the ground on the first day that dipped below 20.

Because I don't want to run electricity to the coop, I've been bringing out warm water each morning when I let them out and putting it in a plastic bowl (just for my ease). Low tech and it works.
From what I have read (no personal experience yet) the birdbath heater/ bucket/ nipple waterer system is great.

I have used the galvanized heater base ($35 and up new, $1 and up used) with galvanized (5-8 gallon) and plastic (5 gallon) waterers, rubber or metal bowls.

You can find the 1 gallon heated dog bowls for $15 at farm supply stores like Rural King.

My least favorite type of waterers, out of the dozens I have, are the ones you describe. They are difficult to fill and flip without spilling a lot.

Good luck and cut hubby some slack... at least he cares. Some don't. Haven't you read any of the nightmare Husband stories on here?
We need to give credit where it's due.

Chic. Married to the best man in the world!
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We use that system. We chose to make dunce caps that slide up and down the hanging wire to cover the bucket. Lids will be a pain as the bucket will deform from the weight of the water. You can see our set up on our page. And yes, bird bath drivers are thermostatically controlled. It has only been down to -15f here so far, but everything is working great. The picture on my page does not show the chord for the deicer but we just tied it to the hose. It runs up to the ceiling and over to a plug with the aid of a short 14 gauge extension chord.

I hang the deicer about an inch off the bottom of the bucket when empty to make sure it does not touch the rods sticking up on the inside.
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