The days are getting longer and the nights colder. Before we know it, winter will be here, bringing many challenges with it. One of our least favorite winter hardships is replacing the water for the chickens each time it freezes. Changing out the water multiple times a day to stop it freezing is very tedious, especially when you have to wade through snow.
Chickens need to have constant access to fresh water. Dehydration can result in decreased growth in younger chickens, no egg laying, and potentially even death. A heated chicken waterer solves these problems and provides your chickens with fresh water during even the coldest months of the year.
Do Chickens Need A Heated Waterer?
Chickens need constant access to drinkable water. During the winter months you will notice that the water in your regular chicken waterer will start to freeze. Unlike many other animals, chickens struggle to break the ice themselves so they need your help. Not having access to drinkable water can lead to dehydration and other health problems, including not laying eggs.
You will need to either break up the ice each time it freezes, or get a heated waterer. A heated waterer will prevent ice from forming so that your chickens have continuous access to drinking water.
6 Best Heated Chicken Waterers
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Our Rating|
|All Rounder||Farm Innovators Heated 2 Gallon Poultry Drinker||4.8|
|Large||Premier Heated Poultry Waterer||4.3|
|Heated Gravity Waterer||Farm Innovators All-Seasons Poultry Fountain||4.1|
|Budget-Friendly||RentACoop 2-Liter Heated Poultry Waterer||3.9|
|Heated Base||Farm Innovators Heated Base||4.0|
|Deicer||API Bucket Deicer Pail||4.0|
Farm Innovators Heated 2 Gallon Poultry Drinker
The Farm Innovators Heated 2 Gallon Poultry Drinker has many helpful features including an easy-to-remove lid for easy filling and cleaning, a low electrical wattage that will help keep your electric bill low, and translucent walls so that you will never again have to guess how much water is left in it. It also has a useful thermostat safety feature to help keep your coop safe from the risk of fire. If it senses that the outside temperature is warming up then this chicken waterer will automatically turn off to prevent it from overheating.
- Thermostat controlled
- Easy to see water level
- Chicken nipples help keep water clean
- Low wattage
- More expensive
- Cannot be used with young chicks
- Some chickens struggle with nipples
- Cord is not detachable
Premier Heated Poultry Waterer
The Premier Heated Poultry Waterer can hold up to three gallons of water which makes it great for larger flocks. This large waterer has a covered lid and nipples to keep debris out of the water so it stays clean all day long. Although it is large and built to store enough water for the whole day, it comes with a handle and is sturdy enough to hang off the ground. You can also keep this chicken waterer on the ground too as its cone-shaped lid will stop chickens from perching on it.
- Big water capacity
- Long electrical cord makes it easy to plug in
- Cone-shaped lid stops chickens from perching
- Will work in temperatures as cold as -20°F
- Not the most energy-efficient due to higher wattage
- Chicks cannot use the waterer
- Need to train chickens how to drink from nipples
Farm Innovators All-Seasons Poultry Fountain
The Farm Innovators All-Seasons Poultry Fountain is a traditional gravity waterer. The heating elements are safely concealed within the fount and are protected from debris and curious chickens. This small waterer has a thermostat that turns the heating element off when it gets too warm. To stop your chickens from contaminating the water, it is recommended that you either hang this waterer, or place it on top of some bricks, just like you would with a regular chicken waterer.
- Can be hung or set on ground
- Three gallon capacity
- Keeps water thawed even in subzero temperatures
- Short electrical cord
- Hard to clean
- Bottom refill hole can leak if damaged
RentACoop 2-Liter Heated Poultry Waterer
The RentACoop 2-Liter Heated Poultry Waterer is a budget-friendly pick. If you are looking for a waterer that costs half as much as the other ones on the market but still gets the job done, you should consider this one. It is an automatic chicken waterer and will prevent dust from getting into the water. The only downside is that it does not come with a thermostat. You will need to remember to turn it off during the warm days. This is not too hard when you are already in the practice of checking your flock’s water every day.
- Easy to refill
- Can be used during spring and summer too
- Comes with mounting bracket kit
- Chicken nipple keeps water clean
- No thermostat
- Short power cord
- Low water capacity
- Only one chicken can drink from it at a time
Farm Innovators Heated Base
The Farm Innovators Heated Base is the best for keeping water unfrozen in metal gravity waterers. This is a great choice if you already own a metal waterer and do not want to buy a new one. It comes with protective features to help prevent fires, such as a thermostat to turn it off above certain temperatures and a protective covering to keep dust away from the heating elements. This base also has a high enough wattage that it can heat most metal waterers regardless of their water capacity.
- Can heat a range of different metal waterers
- Designed specifically for use in chicken coops
- Bottom cover keeps flammable debris away from the heating element
- Not the most energy-efficient
- Waterer not included
- Cannot be used with hanging waterers
API Bucket Deicer Pail
The API Bucket Deicer Pail is the perfect way to provide your chickens with fresh water during the freezing winter months if you do not want to replace your favorite container waterer. All you need to do is clamp this deicer into their waterer and it will stop the water from freezing. It can also be used in water containers for other animals you may keep in your backyard. This deicer supports high-capacity containers and will keep 15 gallons of water thawed throughout cold winter days.
- Can be used with your regular waterer
- Heats up to 15 gallons of water
- Enclosed and protected heating element
- Built in thermostat
- Not compatible with automatic waterers
- Very high wattage makes it less energy efficient
- Deicer can get damaged if left on in a dry container
Here are the key features you should consider before buying a waterer to make sure you end up with the best possible one for your flock.
Let’s start by looking at power sources. There are three different power sources: electric, battery and solar. Electric is the most common and easy to set up. You just plug it into an outlet or an extension cord – that is it. For most people this is the best option if you have stable power. However, during a heavy snowstorm these waterers are susceptible to power outages. This is why some people prefer battery-powered waterers. Over time though, buying new batteries can become expensive.
The last choice you have for a power source is solar power. Setting up a solar power system is complicated and expensive. If the only thing you need to power up is your heater then it is not worth the hassle. However, if you already have a solar power system then it is a good option.
Once you have decided on your power source, you need to decide what size chicken waterer to buy. Each chicken will need around 1 pint (0.15 gallons) of water per day. A small flock of less than 8 chickens will only need a 2 gallon waterer, provided you fill the waterer once a day. A larger flock of 20 chickens would need at least a 3-gallon waterer to last them for a single day.
The final three things to consider are:
- Thermostat Control: You should buy a heated waterer that has thermostat control. It will detect the temperature in the area and turn off when the water is not at risk of freezing. Not only can this save you money on your electric bill, but it also acts as a safety feature to reduce the risk of the waterer overheating.
- Wattage: Heater wattage can range from 60 Watts to 200 Watts. Lower wattage waterers are more energy efficient and will have a lower impact on your electricity bill. You will only need a higher wattage if you are trying to heat a very large waterer at extremely cold temperatures.
- Practicality: Is it easy to clean? How easy is it to fill the container? Are you planning on hanging it? Lastly, how much are you willing to spend on a chicken waterer that will be easier to take care of? Asking yourself these questions can help you narrow down your options.
One of the most common problems with heated waterers is their thermostats have trouble resetting after the first season. This usually happens on the cheaper models, and they only work for one season. Make sure to test your waterer’s thermostat properly the first time you use it each year.
Another common problem is that the power cord is too short. Save yourself some trouble ahead of time and also budget for an outdoor extension cord. Look for one that is safe for long-term outdoor use in sub-freezing temperatures. You will also want a way to stop your chickens pecking at the power cord. The safest option is to run the extension cord through PVC piping.
Some chicken waterers use nipples to provide water to the chickens. You might also notice that some chickens refuse to drink from nipple waterers. While most chickens can easily be taught how to drink from the nipples, there are a few chickens out there who struggle to learn. If you are introducing the waterer to an older flock then you should avoid the nipple style waterers.
Finally, you will need to pay attention to power outages. Although this is not a fault of the heater, it goes without saying that they will stop working during a power outage. During this time you will need to make sure your chickens have access to another water supply.
If you do not have electric near your chicken coop then you need to look for other options. The first option is the old-fashioned way. You can just replace the water each time it freezes. In my experience your chicken waterer won’t freeze instantly; it takes about 6 hours in the coldest weather. This means you will need to replace the water 2-3 times a day.
However, there are some things you can do so the water freezes slower. You can start by using a dark rubber container as a waterer. The dark color will help keep the water warmer, and the rubber material will make it easier to empty the ice out.
Next, you can add frozen bottles of saltwater to your chicken waterer. Saltwater freezes at a lower temperature than regular water, so it can help keep your water thawed. However, you do not want to let the saltwater mix with your chickens’ regular drinking water.
This last trick requires some thought, but if you have already been thinking about adding ducks to your flock, this is your sign to do so. Backyard ducks enjoy playing in the water, even if it is cold! They will splash around in your chicken’s water container, and help stop it from freezing. Read 10 Best Ways To Keep Chicken Water From Freezing for more ideas.
Heated chicken waterers are safe as long as you follow the instructions. Take special note of any electrical instructions such as the voltage of the electrical source they should be plugged into. Following these instructions can prevent fires and keep your hens safe. Also, you should only use one when it is cold enough for the water to freeze. They are made to function at cold temperatures and may overheat if used on a warm day.
Every flock is different and the perfect heated waterer for one flock might not be the best for another flock. Make sure to research them thoroughly so you get the perfect one for your flock. There are so many different types out there, from metal to plastic, solar-powered to electric, affordable to high-end.
Which is your favorite waterer? Let us know why you love it in the comments section below…
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