Options for Watering Your Chickens in the Winter Explained

Winter is coming and you might be thinking about how to keep your poultry waterers from freezing up? This is the video for you as we discuss winter waterers. I am Eric Stromberg and this is a video talking about keeping your birds hydrated during the winter months.

Stromberg’s is located in Minnesota and I can tell you from experience it gets cold. It can get to 40 to 50 below zero here in Minnesota and I can tell you from experience UFFF DA that is cold!

With this cold weather comes one very important challenge. Keeping your water for your birds from freezing. We all know the importance of providing clean water to your birds. They can drink 1 – 2 cups per day and this need does not diminish in the wintertime.

We offer a few options and we are going to discuss those today.

Different Styles of Winter Water Heating Solutions for Chickens

Here are the three different types of options that you can take a look at. Heater Bases, founts with built in heaters and Light Bulb Bases Between these options you should be able to make the right choice for your coop.

We carry two options for heater bases. I like these the most because they are the most versatile. They work with any different style of waterers and when you are done with them for the season you can just rinse them off put them away and get them out again when the weather starts to cool off.

Also they have a thermostat built into them. This is great because the unit will not turn on until it is needed to keep the water warm. This saves energy during the winter time which is one of the sneaky unseen costs of raising your birds! If you are living in an area that has larger temperature swings or are concerned about water freezing during the spring or fall when night time temps are low but daytime temps are high, then the thermostat is a must.

The first is from miller manufacturing and you can find it here Electric Heater Base.

This unit is 110 volt and 115 watts and will keep your water free and clear of ice up to -15 degrees. This unit is only approved for metal waterers so it would not be appropriate to have any plastic waterers in use with this model.

The next unit is what we call the Automatic Electric Base. It too plugs into the standard 110-volt outlet and will use 100 watts of power. This unit is approved to 15 degrees above zero. Now I know what you’re thinking why the heck would you buy this one. However, the biggest reason is that it is approved for use with plastic waterers. Which are a popular choice for poultry hobbyist because they are easy to clean, do not rust and you can see your water levels.

We offer two different heater bases because some people will want a lower wattage heater for the plastic bases and some like the higher wattage output and want to use the metal founts. Now I know what your thinking. How can you recommend a heater base in Minnesota that is only rated to 15 degrees above zero when you stated that temps can be well below zero. I can personally assure you that if you keep these fount heaters inside your coop that they don’t freeze up even at sub zero temperatures. You cannot have any drafts and they must be inside the coop but they do work in subzero temps. The manufacturer will not guarantee it but I have tested it. Also, you may want to start with warm water when filling your waterers to give them a bit of help during those subzero days.

Alright on to the next option. Which is the built in heater base.

This is the Heated 3 Gallon Poultry Fount that we offer. Also, you can convert it from summertime to winter time use. So it is the best of both worlds! Some founts do have the built in base but not the summertime base. By including the summertime base, you don’t have the wear and tear on your winter base during the summer months. Extending the life of your fount.

The last option that we have here at Stromberg’s is this Small Fount Heater lightbulb model. This is based on an older design but still works great. This unit uses a 100-watt lightbulb to heat the waterer to keep it free of ice. Now if your weather is not as extreme or is more extreme you may want to use a higher or lower wattage bulb. Since this is an enclosed unit it is a much safer alternative to just using a 250 Watt light bulb.

These can be popular where space is a factor and is also popular with people raising pigeons. Maybe you have a small coop or loft and this smaller unit would work great in your space. Now there are a couple of cons that we should discuss with this style. The first is that lightbulbs do burn out. So you will want to keep a close eye on this style of heater to make sure it is always operating properly. They also do not have a thermostat so they will run continuously for the winter. However, we do have a temperature controlled outlet that can help with that issue.

This unit turns on at 35 degrees and turns off at 37 degrees. This tool can help control things you only want to use when the temperature is below freezing but can also control items that you might feel have too large of a thermostat window. For instance, something that turns on at 35 and doesn’t turn off until it hits 70 degrees. If you feel this is too big of a window during the spring or fall when daytime temps can get into the 50’s this might be a good option to prevent nighttime freeze but turn off the outlet during the day. This will prevent drawing a lot of power that you may feel is not necessary to use.

You will notice that we did not mention automatic watering. This is because it is very difficult to operate an automatic watering system during the winter time. Usually if you need to run automatic watering systems during the winter time you would need to heat your entire coop. This is becasue all of the connections between each of the watering cups or nipples would need to be kept above freezing which can be difficult. Also you would need a source for your water which is above freezing. In Minesota that would mean that we would have to have an pipe buried at 8 feet below the ground. For many of people raising poultry these obstacles are big enough where they do not want to try automatic waterers but instead use the options presented above.

Now heres a simple safety tool for your coop is this small device which is an outlet cover. This covers your outlets and does not allow them to get water into them. We all know water and electricity do not mix so these are important to use!

Example of a GFCI outlet that you would want to use around the chicken coop.

The last thing we are going to talk about is a safety issue in the coop. You will want to use a GFCI(ground fault circuit interrupter) plug in your coop. Well I am sure you have heard of these before, but what are they? Usually you see these outlets in your kitchen, your bathroom or outside. They are the outlets with the small buttons on them that say test arnd reset. I’m no electrician but this is my understanding of these– they keep you from getting shocked by sensing imbalances in the current in the line. So if the electricity starts going into your body instead of your water heater they shut off the power. These are a must for a poultry house where water and electricity are a must in cold weather. It is more advanced than a breaker because it does not just trip when there is too much power but rather cuts the power off if it is going somewhere wher it is not supposed to be going like your body.

From all of us here at Strombergs enjoy your chickens even in the winter!