Tired of hauling water to your chickens twice a day because it's frozen yet? Here are some cost saving ideas!
This is kind of a memory dump for me. Everything I have tried and/or seen - gathered up in one spot. Please look closely into the safety and costs involved in whatever heater you decided to use. Remember just because a group of people think that a certain heater is fantastic on the internet doesn't mean it will work OR be safe for your situation.
The Cookie Tin Water Heater
I have seen the Christmas cookie tin heater idea, but something about it just doesn't seem safe to me. I haven't tried it so I can't say for sure and alot of people have tried it with no issues so who knows? Just my opinion and you know that they say about opinions. These have been floating around the internet since 2006 and there are many posts on them. The nice thing about this approach is that it is priced out fairly inexpensively at $10 (although those materials, drill bit included, would run me just under $20 new at the hardware store, less if I bought a lamp at a yard sale). Not all lamp assembly kits are equal though so if you try this, make sure what you have will work with your drill bit size and cookie tin. Also if I were to try this, I would use the lowest wattage bulb I could get away with using to increase safety and save money on power.
The Cinder Block Water Heater
I have also seen the cinder block idea and I just don't think that would be real effective as cinder blocks don't conduct heat real well, again my opinion....
The Clay Pot Water Heater
I have neighbor that uses a clay pot with a light bulb (like the one videoed below), and swears by it. I think this is a tad safer (but can't tell you for sure because I have not made one). But if something were to happen and a fire were to start inside the clay pot it would be very short lived and contained.
Thermostatically Controlled Outlet
While this isn't a heater - for any of these DYI ideas to be economical you would want them to be on a thermostat. This is easily done by using a thermostatically controlled outlet (pictured below).There are several models on the market you can find them at farm supply stores, hardware stores, and on Amazon. This would cause the light/heater to come on when the temperature drops to the point where water freezes and then kicks itself back off when the temperature outside warms up above freezing. This would prevent the light/heater from just running and running and running your electric bill up. What's a couple bucks to your bill each month? Well a lot for us.
Metal base heaters work with a built in thermostat so they only heat when they need to and you don't have to buy an additional thermostatically controlled outlet. They work well and are low maintenance, the temperature dropped down to -8 degrees this weekend and my 5 gallon waterer was completely thawed the whole time, this is because they can ramp up to 150 watts to keep your waterer thawed if need be. No running outside to change out the light bulb in a cookie tin to a 60 or 100 watts light bulb. When you work full time and live a self-reliant lifestyle time is a big deal - I use a heating solution that is designed for it's purpose, that works without me tinkering with it or constantly checking on it.
Another alternative is using an aquarium heater - this usually works best when you are using bucket nipple waterers or down inside a waterer that you can submerse this heater in. They all have built in thermostats so you don't have to buy an additional one. In subzero temps I have had the watering nipples freeze up even with an aquarium heater, so you have keep an eye on it - but it's a $10 solution in the right climates. This aquarium heater pulls 50W when in use (cheap!) and should be good for containers up to 13 gallons. Again this is another nice low maintenance option.
Plug-in Chicken Waterer
Heat Tape Around a Poultry Waterer
You can also take a short piece of heat tape (a common plumbing aid, used to keep water pipes thawed) and wrap it around a chicken waterer. Again, one may want to opt for the thermostatically controlled (or temperature controlled) heat tape, which costs a little extra initially but saves money in the long run. If you choose this method, be sure to secure it real well so the chickens don't mess with it.
|Click Here to read the How-To post on Info Barrel|
Heated Pet Water Bowl
Lastly, if you want you can always use a heated pet water bowl. The draw back to doing this is the need to rinse it out constantly, because as you know - chickens get water filthy pretty fast and dumping water in the coop or pen may become a problem if temperatures are staying below freezing. You can find these at pet stores everywhere, at feed stores and at farm supply stores. They are also on a built in thermostat so you don't need to go out and buy one.
Speaking from experience - if you live in a place where it drops below freezing and stays that way for a good part of the winter you would be wise to invest in some type of a water heater. I will be easier on you, and your chickens.________________________________________
UPDATE (11/21/15): I found a number nine!
Chicken Water Heater Stone
Yep, I found it on pinterest! This looks like one of the best ideas I've seen yet. It using half the wattage of the Cookie Tin Water Heater idea, is safer, cheaper AND it will last forever - no changing light bulbs. This is an idea I would actually try - say goodbye to cookie tins. Check out this wonder link below!
|Click Here for a link to a great set of instructions, photo credit, and just a great overall article by at D&B Supply!|
Please Note: How cold it is at your place is NOT a contest. There is no "gold star" if you have the coldest winters or if during a few days last winter your place was colder than somewhere in Alaska. Comments to such an effect are immature, annoying and will be deleted.