water freezing problem

dorklandresident

Chirping
Nov 30, 2021
82
172
96
Massachusetts, USA
I live in NE with 3 chickens. I am concerned about their water freezing during the day when I can't do anything about it. I don't get home from work until the chickens are already in bed. I though about putting the water inside the eglu with a heating pad under it or something like that. I can't find any solar powered water dishes/heaters. I would prefer not to run an extension cord out to the coop for a heated water dish.

any suggestions?
 

wamtazlady

Crowing
8 Years
Jul 18, 2013
1,779
2,376
326
Kalispell MT
If you want to keep their water thawed then you will have to run that extension cord. The only other way I know to keep water thawed without electricity is to dig a big hole, fill it with fresh horse or cow manure and put your water dish on top. The manure makes heat as it composts. While small solar panels can power a camera, turn on a motion sensor light, or open and close a pop door, producing heat enough to thaw water requires a lot more power than a little panel can produce.

Some people have tried to put a bottle filled with salt water in the water dish to prevent it from freezing. I know people who tried this and it failed.

If you do decide to use that extension cord you have several ways of providing thawed water. The least expensive would be a heated dog dish. They work great and the only problem with them is if you have chickens with large combs that can become wet in the dish. You can get a waterer that has a heater built in. They can be the old fashioned gravity fed waterer or a plastic container with horizontal nipples. You can set a waterer on a heated base. You can build your own heated waterer. There are many examples of those here in the forums.
 

conniemod

Hatching
Nov 30, 2021
3
5
6
I purchased at the Co-Op in Worland, Wyoming a bird bath heater ("Bird Bath De-Icer") which I attached to extension cord. It is placed in the water bowl (deep large black rubber) that I purchased at Ace Hardware in Worland, Wyoming. Heater (200 watts, 120 volts)only turns on when outdoor temperature gets to 45 degrees F or lower. This was an ideal solution and the chickens do not disturb it.
 

dorklandresident

Chirping
Nov 30, 2021
82
172
96
Massachusetts, USA
I purchased at the Co-Op in Worland, Wyoming a bird bath heater ("Bird Bath De-Icer") which I attached to extension cord. It is placed in the water bowl (deep large black rubber) that I purchased at Ace Hardware in Worland, Wyoming. Heater (200 watts, 120 volts)only turns on when outdoor temperature gets to 45 degrees F or lower. This was an ideal solution and the chickens do not disturb it.
I am going to look that up!
 

gtaus

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2019
3,262
12,511
657
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
Where I live in northern Minnesota, the main local seller at our Fleet store for keeping the water from freezing is this

Farm Innovators Model HP-125 Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts, 125-Watt


91q2TuEoLYL._AC_UL320_.jpg



Then you would need a metal poultry fount like the Harris Farms Double Wall Poultry Drinker

61Ko0LifLrL._AC_UL320_.jpg


At my local fleet store, they were both the same brand. I got the metal base heater and a 3 gallon metal fount for about $70 for both, but that was 3 years ago (Pre-pandemic) and I imagine the prices have gone up.

Anyway, my metal base heater kept my water from freezing down to -35F during the dead of winter. I have my waterer and feeder inside my chicken coop sheltered from the elements, but not from the cold. I think the metal base heater advertises to keep water unfrozen down to about +10F, but I have had clear water down to -35F in my coop.

I have a GFCI outlet on the backside of my house. I just run a 100' foot extension cord out to the chicken coop. You don't need a very expensive cord, either, because the metal base heater uses only about 125 watts, like a bright house lightbulb. I don't worry about getting a shock from the cord because I plug it into my GFCI outlet. If there is ever an issue with improper grounding, the GFCI switch would trip before anyone would get hurt. So, my extension cord sits under about 2-3 feet of snow in the winter time and I have never had any problems.

If you have concerns with running an extension cord outside on the ground, I suggest you get over it. It's not really a big deal. If you really have concerns, then buy some conduit and bury the cord under the ground. I leave my extension cord outside on the ground until spring when I start mowing the lawn, By then, of course, I don't need to heat my water anymore.

In general, I am a big fan of saving money anywhere and anyway I can in raising my chickens. However, keeping fresh water for the chickens in the winter time is one place where I knew not to go cheap. Small animals will die in the winter time if they don't get fresh water. Where I live, I had to invest in the best I could afford.

Some people talk about those heated dog dishes. It may work where you live if your climate is warmer than my winters. But I never liked the open aspect of the bowl where your chickens can get all wet, and the fact that a dog dish does not hold anywhere near the 3 gallons I get in my waterer.

For my 10 chickens, I would have to refill my 3 gallon waterer about every 10 days. Not a big deal for me, even in the dead of winter. I would not like to have to refill a heated dog dish everyday. Plus, the heated dog dishes I see in our local stores are not very good in comparison to the metal base and waterer I got for my chickens. My suggestion is to buy the best heated water system for your chickens that you can afford, based on where you live, and what your winter temps are mostly likely to get down to at night.
 

dorklandresident

Chirping
Nov 30, 2021
82
172
96
Massachusetts, USA
Where I live in northern Minnesota, the main local seller at our Fleet store for keeping the water from freezing is this

Farm Innovators Model HP-125 Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts, 125-Watt


91q2TuEoLYL._AC_UL320_.jpg



Then you would need a metal poultry fount like the Harris Farms Double Wall Poultry Drinker

61Ko0LifLrL._AC_UL320_.jpg


At my local fleet store, they were both the same brand. I got the metal base heater and a 3 gallon metal fount for about $70 for both, but that was 3 years ago (Pre-pandemic) and I imagine the prices have gone up.

Anyway, my metal base heater kept my water from freezing down to -35F during the dead of winter. I have my waterer and feeder inside my chicken coop sheltered from the elements, but not from the cold. I think the metal base heater advertises to keep water unfrozen down to about +10F, but I have had clear water down to -35F in my coop.

I have a GFCI outlet on the backside of my house. I just run a 100' foot extension cord out to the chicken coop. You don't need a very expensive cord, either, because the metal base heater uses only about 125 watts, like a bright house lightbulb. I don't worry about getting a shock from the cord because I plug it into my GFCI outlet. If there is ever an issue with improper grounding, the GFCI switch would trip before anyone would get hurt. So, my extension cord sits under about 2-3 feet of snow in the winter time and I have never had any problems.

If you have concerns with running an extension cord outside on the ground, I suggest you get over it. It's not really a big deal. If you really have concerns, then buy some conduit and bury the cord under the ground. I leave my extension cord outside on the ground until spring when I start mowing the lawn, By then, of course, I don't need to heat my water anymore.

In general, I am a big fan of saving money anywhere and anyway I can in raising my chickens. However, keeping fresh water for the chickens in the winter time is one place where I knew not to go cheap. Small animals will die in the winter time if they don't get fresh water. Where I live, I had to invest in the best I could afford.

Some people talk about those heated dog dishes. It may work where you live if your climate is warmer than my winters. But I never liked the open aspect of the bowl where your chickens can get all wet, and the fact that a dog dish does not hold anywhere near the 3 gallons I get in my waterer.

For my 10 chickens, I would have to refill my 3 gallon waterer about every 10 days. Not a big deal for me, even in the dead of winter. I would not like to have to refill a heated dog dish everyday. Plus, the heated dog dishes I see in our local stores are not very good in comparison to the metal base and waterer I got for my chickens. My suggestion is to buy the best heated water system for your chickens that you can afford, based on where you live, and what your winter temps are mostly likely to get down to at night.


I dont get nearly as cold as you do in the winter! I think the lowest I have seen the temp where I live is 8F and that was deep into winter and not typical. Right now, everything is fine and the temp is in the upper 30s/40s during the day. I am just trying to prepare for when it is colder. I am not a fan of the dog dish idea either, but I am considering it because it is a less expensive option.

How do your chickens do in the cold? Do you need to do anything special to keep them warm during the winter where you are at?
 

gtaus

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2019
3,262
12,511
657
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
How do your chickens do in the cold? Do you need to do anything special to keep them warm during the winter where you are at?

I did not have any losses in my first two winters, with temps down to -35F to -40F at night for as long as a week in the dead of winter. That is very cold. But the chickens have a normal body temp of 106F. When it gets really cold, they fluff up their feathers and trap the air around their body keeping them warm. It is important to not have any drafts coming up underneath their roost, as that would cool them down. Now my chickens are getting older, and I am wondering how well they will do this third winter.

I bought a flat panel heater to put out into the chicken coop in case the weather gets too cold for too long. My idea was to plug it in if the temps got down below -25F. The chickens could warm themselves by standing directly in front of the heater and get warm from the infrared beams. The heater does not heat the coop itself. In the end, I never put the panel heater in the chicken coop. The chickens seem to keep themselves warm enough in my coop even when we hit -40F at night. Also, I am concerned that the chickens might get accustomed to the heater panel and if the electricity goes out, then they might go into some kind of thermal shock. I don't know if that is a valid concern, or not, but in the end I never setup the heater.

And, of course, I bought cold hardy breeds, which I think is a must for where I live unless you have a heated coop. I know one guy who breeds show birds, and he has a heated barn/coop. But you need to be willing to spend lots of money to keep a heated barn at 70F during our winters. I cannot afford that with my small backyard flock.
 

dorklandresident

Chirping
Nov 30, 2021
82
172
96
Massachusetts, USA
I did not have any losses in my first two winters, with temps down to -35F to -40F at night for as long as a week in the dead of winter. That is very cold. But the chickens have a normal body temp of 106F. When it gets really cold, they fluff up their feathers and trap the air around their body keeping them warm. It is important to not have any drafts coming up underneath their roost, as that would cool them down. Now my chickens are getting older, and I am wondering how well they will do this third winter.

I bought a flat panel heater to put out into the chicken coop in case the weather gets too cold for too long. My idea was to plug it in if the temps got down below -25F. The chickens could warm themselves by standing directly in front of the heater and get warm from the infrared beams. The heater does not heat the coop itself. In the end, I never put the panel heater in the chicken coop. The chickens seem to keep themselves warm enough in my coop even when we hit -40F at night. Also, I am concerned that the chickens might get accustomed to the heater panel and if the electricity goes out, then they might go into some kind of thermal shock. I don't know if that is a valid concern, or not, but in the end I never setup the heater.

And, of course, I bought cold hardy breeds, which I think is a must for where I live unless you have a heated coop. I know one guy who breeds show birds, and he has a heated barn/coop. But you need to be willing to spend lots of money to keep a heated barn at 70F during our winters. I cannot afford that with my small backyard flock.

What kind of breed did you get?
 

gtaus

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2019
3,262
12,511
657
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
What kind of breed did you get?

I got 10 different breeds, mostly classified as dual purpose chickens. Australorpe, Americana, Californian, RIR, ISA Brown, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Cuckoo Maran, Buff Orpington, and a couple others I can't think of right now. I got beautiful colored eggs from them the first 2 years, but hardly any eggs now in my third year with this flock. So, I'll have to replace them this coming spring if I want to get any more eggs. Down to about 1 egg per day for 8 remaining hens in the flock.
 

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