Plastic or Metal water heater?


In the Brooder
9 Years
May 6, 2010
What are your thoughts....

I currently have a plastic waterer outside in the pen area (with added apple cider for worm prevention) for my girls to drink and a metal container with water inside the coop.

During the winter, the plastic waterer is going to have to be put away (too large and will freeze). I will need to get a freeze protector for my waterer inside the coop. I can't decide between purchasing a base for my current metal waterer or buying another plastic waterer with a heater.

Which do you prefer to use? --- metal heater base or plastic waterer with heating unit.

If you use the plastic waterer with the heating unit, can you add in the apple cider still? (I know not to add it to the metal container.)



11 Years
Feb 1, 2008
St Louis MO (Jefferson County)
Go for the heated metal base. I had a plastic heated waterer with the plastic 3 gallon screw top and it cracked when I dropped it one day trying to piece the stupid thing together. A total WASTE of $40! If you buy just the base, you won't have to replace it if your waterer springs a leak. You can always give them some warm cider water in a small plastic waterer for them to drink during the day, then bring it in at night after you close their coop and just pour out any melted ice in the morning and refill it and take it out to them each day when you let them out. That's what I did before I had a good heated waterer. Last year I used a heated dog bowl which worked fine. I also bought a drop in trough waterer, which I put in a glass bowl which went inside a plastic bowl slightly larger which kept the water from freezing.
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In the Brooder
9 Years
Oct 8, 2010
We have always used metal, and will likely continue to do so but I've got some concerns with both and wish there was a third alternative!

Like, I have read about ACV and would like to give it to my chickies but can't because we use metal (and I'm dealing with the whole de-worming thing for the first time right now, so ACV as a natural deterrent is very appealing to me!). We live in central Virginia, so our water in the coop can indeed freeze - so in the winter we use a heating element under the waterers. Can't do that with plastic.

But on the other hand, 2 months ago we took in 5 new rescues. We put them in a part of the run that has a door on it that separates it from the main run, full with feeders, sleeping perch, water etc.... The water can in that part of the run rusted for some reason on the inside; and I can't get the rust off it (without using a chemical that I'm afraid will be worse for my chickens!!!). I don't know if the rust (and I mean a LOT, not just a smattering of rust) is bad for the chickens but once I found it I removed the waterer and replaced it with bowls temporarily. Now the 5 are integrated with everyone else so I'm still not using the "rusted" metal waterer at all - and the other metal waterers are fine.

Sheesh - Do you ever feel like the littlest of things become the biggest dilemmas? When it comes to my chickens, I know that's the way I feel. I love them and want to give them the best we can afford - but finding out what is "best" sure is hard in some cases!

Best of luck,


9 Years
Aug 17, 2010
DIY cookie tin heater. I use it with my plastic waterer and have never had a problem. Thinking I use a 40 watt bulb.

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