Keeping water from freezing in -degree weather

neetabeamie

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 26, 2014
296
35
96
Teton City Idaho
Hi! I have a 5 gallon bucket with nipples in the bottom with my chickens to drink out of. My question is how do I keep it from freezing in negative degree weather. I live in Idaho where the weather in the wintertime gets below -20.
I've heard that heat tape placed around my bucket might work or a aquarium heater. Does anyone have experience with using heat tape?
 

Peep-Chicken

Crowing
7 Years
Jun 10, 2013
6,397
452
336
Michigan
Try putting a bird bath heater and circulating the water. <--- that's what I would like to do, haven't tested it yet

Not sure on the tape tho.
 

HumbleHen207

Songster
6 Years
Apr 16, 2013
275
27
103
Maine
I live in Maine where -20 (or lower) is the norm in the height of winter, I have a large flock and have heated water successfully for many years. I use rubber bowls with a submersible heater (many are sold as bird bath heaters). Circulating the water is not necessary. I have found it to be the best solution as heating bases don't hold up or warm large amounts of water efficiently. I would steer away from the heating tape method.
 
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Beer can

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Aug 12, 2014
9,555
17,373
781
Upstate NY
I kill two birds with one stone, Lol. Big plastic bowl with a heat lamp just above it. Use a regular flood lamp bulb, the more wattage the warmer. The light also keeps the hens laying all winter. I think I will use it on a timer this year to give the hens a short break.
 

HumbleHen207

Songster
6 Years
Apr 16, 2013
275
27
103
Maine
I provide my hens with a fluorescent light during the winter, they don't really need the extra heat unless they aren't a cold tolerant breed. Heat lamps don't have a long life, and tend to jack up the electric bill. As long as you have well ventilated housing your birds should be fine without extra heat. The only reason I provide any light is to keep them laying.
 

neetabeamie

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 26, 2014
296
35
96
Teton City Idaho
I live in Maine where -20 (or lower) is the norm in the height of winter, I have a large flock and have heated water successfully for many years. I use rubber bowls with a submersible heater (many are sold as bird bath heaters). Circulating the water is not necessary. I have found it to be the best solution as heating bases don't hold up or warm large amounts of water efficiently. I would steer away from the heating tape method.   


How large are your plastic containers? Do you keep them in the coop or outside? Do you think The birdbath heater would work for my 5 gallon water?
 

Beer can

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Aug 12, 2014
9,555
17,373
781
Upstate NY
I provide my hens with a fluorescent light during the winter, they don't really need the extra heat unless they aren't a cold tolerant breed. Heat lamps don't have a long life, and tend to jack up the electric bill. As long as you have well ventilated housing your birds should be fine without extra heat. The only reason I provide any light is to keep them laying. 
A fluorescent light will not keep their water from freezing. A 150 watt bulb will use .60 cents a day, half that if I use a timer. A heated water dish is 60watt. I won't be using much more electric than a heated bowl, and keep the chickens laying, earning their keep as well.
 

HumbleHen207

Songster
6 Years
Apr 16, 2013
275
27
103
Maine
A 150 watt bulb wont keep water from freezing in the coldest of nights here. I just have no intent of keeping my birds warm with a 150 watt during the winter, and I have a fluorescent on them year round. I allow them access out doors, some venture out in the snow, some stay inside. If I am feeling really ambitious I will shovel them a small space in their run so they can get some fresh air. I dont let them out in snow or freezing rain however, if they get wet and freeze your stuck blow-drying a chicken in your bath tub... I use a rubber bowl about 6 inches deep, maybe a foot and a half in diameter. The bird bath heater works like a charm, its rare I ever have to knock ice out of it.
 

MANNA-PRO

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