Winter Water

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by BMO, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. BMO

    BMO Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2009
    Was wanting to know if any one has used the idea, and if they had, did it work.
    Building, out of 4" PVC pipe, a waterer. O shaped, one part buried 8 " under ground, the upper portion 12 above ground with water nipples attached.
    I was thinking the water, as it heats will rise to the top forcing the coller water down. This I believe would be a continual "rise" and fall " system and the water heats and cools and keep it from freezing.
    The temps here can get down into the teens, most often in the 20's, afternoon it will heat up into the 60's
  2. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    It won't make any difference only going 8" deep.

    Anything above the frost line will still freeze.

    All that has to freeze to make it unusable is the one drop in the nipple itself
  3. wyododge

    wyododge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2011
    With 60 degree daytime temperatures, it does not seem that the ground will have frost. The key is volume, and dark color above ground to absorb heat. As for the nipple freezing, they do operate when being frozen if the water in the reservoir is not frozen. when the chickens tickle them, they 'thaw' instantly, and flow returns. 12" above ground may not be high enough either depending on the height of your birds. Getting the below ground portion deeper will only help, but will cost you more in PVC.

    Also, if the temps get up into the 60's a black bucket with nipples in the bottom will thaw everyday. Heck for that matter, a white one may also.
  4. Al Gerhart

    Al Gerhart Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 29, 2011
    Oklahoma City
    Maybe wrap it with a water pipe heat tape? I bought a heated dog bowl, filled it with water, then set my large 3 gallon galvanized water can on top. When winter storms come through, once or twice a year, I have to move the 3 gallon water can and let the birds drink out of the dog dish.
  5. Quizcat

    Quizcat Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 29, 2011
    Quote:I live in an equally cold climate. There are months where temps are in the low 20s, sometimes even dipping down below zero for several days, and sometimes those temps last for one or two weeks at a time before a slight thaw, even to the 20's and 30's.

    I am a newbie, and only had the chickens for 5 months. So, I've only dealt with them during summer months. But, I anticipate the biggest obstacle to keeping them is this issue of a deiced water supply, and having to spend as little time with that chore in what are sometimes painfully cold temperatures, sometimes lasting for up to three to four months during winter.

    I am going to try a bucket deicer, which is available from Farm Innovators, then drop it in a 5 gallon Bucket, install some of the little red nipples in the bottom, and hang it from a hook in the ceiling of the coop. I've been saving one gallon jugs of Arizona Diet Green Tea that I drink by the ton. I plan to keep the empties, have them available in the house at all times so I can fill them with water, throw 'em in the back of the truck, take 'em out to the coop in the dead of winter when it's around 10 degrees, and fill up the bucket as needed, all in about 60 seconds...kind of fire drill style [​IMG]

    I'll probably keep two of these contraptions, one for out in the coop, and one in the house that's clean. When the one in the coop gets dirty, I can just swap out the clean one for the dirty one, and I am spending as little time as possible dealing with the painfully cold temperatures. I can clean up the dirty one in the laundry room sink, and hold it in reserve for the next swap-out.

    If it works well, I may even spring for a second deicer that can serve not only as a backup, but something I can fill in the house and swap out in less than 10 seconds.

    Farm Innovators also makes heated buckets, where the cord comes right out of the bucket. My only concern with those is that when you drill through the bottom to install the nipples, I'm not sure whether you might hit some electric wires or something. And, the heated buckets are smaller than a 5 gallon utility contractors bucket, thereby holding a smaller supply of water. My goal is to be able to deal with this water issue as infrequently as possible. The more water in the bucket, the better. Our winter temps should keep the water pretty clean with respect to avoiding any kind of issues that are typical of summer months, ie: algae for example.

    I only have six chickens. A 5 gallon bucket full of water will last about a week in the heat of summer, and probably a lot longer during winter months. So, I prefer a 5 gallon bucket to just a regular size commercially produced heated bucket that only holds a few gallons of water.

    With the 5 gallon buckets from Lowes or Home Depot, you can get them for about $3.00, lids for about $2.00, and there is even a more elaborate variation of this idea that involves purchasing food service rated buckets that have a wider temperature rating. I am a little concerned that the cheaper Lowes contractor buckets might just freeze in the winter and crack easily. Not sure how they'll hold up under our temperature extremes.

    The food service buckets idea involves a more elaborate contraption, and it has some other variations where the water can either be delivered through the same kind of nipple system, or utilizing a vacuum controlled release of water through a small hole drilled about 3" up from the bottom rim of the bucket. The bucket sits in an oil pan with 4" tall side walls, and the bucket heater keeps the water defrosted. The bucket/oil pan idea is meant mostly for those that need to put water on the floor, and can't hang it in the coop very easily, or for those that don't like the nipples. I like the nipples ok, but my chicks love dipping their whole beak in the water, and taking a good long drink. And, a 5 gallon bucket full of water isn't lite either. So, depending on how the bucket is refilled with water, from a hanging position, which would be easiest, or lifted off of a hook, and rehung in the hanging position, the difficulty of lifting a full bucket may dictate your own preferences. So, while I think the nipple idea will work just as well, because the weight of a full bucket of water has a tendency to be too heavy to rehang, I'm going to try the idea of the bucket on the floor sitting in the oil pan first.

    These food service buckets are really high quality, high density polyethylene plastic, they even have a rubber gasket lid seal, and they're rated for temperatures between freezing to 190F. But, it's very hard to snap the lids in place. They claim you can use a rubber mallet to snap the lids in place, but I found that was even difficult. I had to snap them in place using the front loader on the tractor coming down on top of the bucket lid in order to have enough pressure to snap the lids in place. These buckets are food service rated, and their intended for manufacturers of food products that have hydraulic actuated sealing machinery. So, you just can't snap the lids in place easily, and you can't just pop the lids off without having a lid removal wrench. So, I opted for the type of lid that has a threaded cap. That way, you don't have to remove the lid, just the cap to refill the bucket with water.

    You may have to take a little more time cleaning the bucket out having only a cap opening for access. But, I've used these now this entire summer, and the vacuum idea worked great, and I spent just a little extra time swashing around the water inside the bucket through the cap access to clean the bucket out. The durability of these buckets is really outstanding. They seem like they will last for many years, even after going through some tough winters. I purchased the white buckets, lids, and caps. But, they also have a black bucket available too, which would probably be even more desirable in the winter months, so that the bucket attracts sun light and heats naturally. But, of course, in the summer months, the white buckets have worked out better for keeping the water cool.

    The other dilemma I have with respect to the bucket in the oil pan idea is how to route the power cord outside the bucket, and still maintain the vacuum that's needed to keep the water from overflowing the oil pan when full. I am going to install a cable glan, which will theoretically seal the hole that I drill in the side of the bucket to bring the cable from the deicer outside the bucket. I supposed you could also just drill a hole and caulk it. But, I'm striving for durability, and I think the cable glan idea has some merit as a reliable way to bring the cable out of the bucket supported by the glan, and still maintain the vacuum needed to regulate the water delivery at the bottom of the bucket so it doesn't overflow the oil pan when full.

    Bucket Source:
    Lid and Cap:
    Bucket Lip Wrench:

    Cable glan...not sure this is the correct size...I'm still researching the size of the cable that comes on the Farm Innovators Deicer. But, it gives you an idea of how to bring the cable out of the bucket, and still maintain the vacuum inside the bucket so the water doesn't all run out.

    The most expensive thing in this idea is the deicer from Farm Innovators, under $50 with shipping. But, if this works, that fifty bucks will be the best fifty bucks you've every spent when the temperatures are in the teens outside.

    5 Gallon Bucket Deicer

    Heated Buckets:

    Here's the catch..I can't try these ideas out until those really low freezing temperatures have arrived...So, I have several plan B's that I can toss in there if this one fails. I'll post them too when I get some more time. I will try to post some photos that will further explain these ideas when I have some additional time. Hope this helps!
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  6. wyododge

    wyododge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2011
    Painfully cold? Try -38 f last winter. That is painful. Anyway save your money on the lid. The weight of the water will deform the bucket. I made a dunce cap out of 1/4" wire fabric and covered it with shrink wrap. Keeps the chickens and dirt out, and lifts up easy to fill. The bucket de-icer works great.
  7. Dutch552

    Dutch552 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 12, 2011
    Hart County, KY
    A 50 watt aquarium heater inside of your supply bucket will keep your water above freezing down into the single digits and they are designed for continuous submersion. You can find a good shatter proof one on Ebay for less than $20. I have used the trough de-icers we use in our 100gal horse waterers but they made the water too warm for me and I was losing quite abit o evaporation and creating unneeded humidity in the winter coop. I have a heated dog bowl that may see some use this winter as an experiment.
  8. goldtopper

    goldtopper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Near Bert Blyleven
    Quote:I must say, I got a kick out of that too. 20's we wear shorts!
  9. Quizcat

    Quizcat Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 29, 2011
    Quote:That IS COLD! [​IMG] It doesn't get that cold here, but it does get down into the teens quite frequently, and sometimes down to -5 to -8 for several days at a time in the coldest months.

    I also have one of those Miller Brand double walled galvanized metal fountains. The cord from the bucket heater will fit between the inside bucket and the outside sleeve. It is a tight fit, but it seems to work. I might just drop the bucket deicer down into the galvanized fountain, route the cable out between the bucket and the outside removable sleeve, and see how that works. The bucket deicer has a wire spring reinforcement around the cord, so it seems pretty durable. That's one of the plan B ideas. That really would be easiest if it works, but not sure the durability of the galvanized fountain will prove to be as durable as the food service buckets. Those things can be frozen solid, defrosted, refrozen, etc...and have no adverse effects. They're a lot thicker walled than the Lowes buckets, and they'll easily support the weight of the water with the lid on. But, the amount of work I have to put into preparing the food service buckets makes using the bucket deicer in the Miller Galvanized fountain a little easier.

    I have many years of experience dealing with the horses in the winter. That experience has me mentally prepared for the worst, and I know better than to not have at least several ideas in the back of my head. I just have to hope one of them works well...meaning, my not having to mess with the water issues for long periods of time outside in the cold.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  10. Quizcat

    Quizcat Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 29, 2011
    Quote:There is a 12Vdc submersible water heating element on the market that's available in 100 Watt, 200 Watt, 300 Watt, or 600 Watt. It can only be powered via 12Vdc...via batteries, solar panels, hydroelectric generators, as a wind turbine dump diversion load. You can run high voltage through the element as long as you don't exceed the rated wattage of the element.

    Example #1: a 600 watt element can handle a 600 watt max output of 150 volts 4 amps, Example #2: a 300 watt element can handle a max output of 300 watts, 200 volt at 1.5 amps.

    As long as your panel exceed 12 volts, but doesn't exceed the max output voltage/wattage, you can safely use the element. This element fits into a 1" hole, and can be adapted to your own custom heater tank, in my case, the food service bucket. The element has a 1" NPT threaded end. So, it's basically like the stock tank drain hole plug elements that are commonly found on 100 gallon stock tanks, but they would be considerably less wattage, which would eliminate overheating of the water. Plus, if you plugged into one of those temperature regulated electrical adapters that activates power within a certain temperature range, the element would only activate when temperatures are below freezing.

    I believe this could be the answer to the problem of overheating a 5 gallon bucket with a regular 1000-1500 watt stock tank heater. This element can be obtained in a low enough wattage to heat a bucket. But, the downside is, the element can not be powered using 110 VAC. If I could come up with an economical power converter to convert 110VAC to 12Vdc within the Voltage and Amp ratings required, then it might work quite well as a reliable bucket deicer/waterer, and it would eliminate the complication of routing the power cord outside the bucket to maintain vacuum integrity inside the bucket. I anticipate the cost of a power converter to well under $10.00.

    The element costs around $49.00. Not too unreasonable, if you can convert the 110VAC plug to 12Vdc economically, under 10 bucks. Here is the link to the source for the element, and there may be many more out there. I just haven't had time to investigate further. I don't have a link on a power converter yet, but I've briefly researched them, and the cost looks pretty cheap. I just have to verify that the power conversion will operate the element properly, and I'll be in business.

    Adapting that element to the food service bucket would orient the power cord to the outside of the bucket through the drain plug hole, just like you have on a normal stock tank, which would eliminate the challenge of sealing a hole created to route the power cord to the outside of the bucket. You would have to drill a 1" hole in the bottom of the bucket to accommodate the element, which you would secure using a 1" NPT nut, which if caulked, would seal perfectly well to maintain the integrity of the vacuum in the bucket.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011

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