How To Keep Chicken Water From Freezing: 11 EASIEST Ways & FAQ

With these 11 EASY tricks, you can delay or stop water from freezing. And oh, don’t bring out the extension cord just yet. 7 out of these ten tips are all electricity-free!

All options are simple, easy, and low investment. Just choose whichever one speaks to you and take action! No time to waste when it’s this cold.

Take a look through and see what method will work best for you, and you can go from there!

1. Use A Large Rubber Tub

One of the best methods is to use a large, black rubber tub set in the sunlight. While a metal chicken waterer seems like a good choice, they will actually freeze faster than their rubber counterparts. 

Black rubber, on the other hand, absorbs the sunlight and heat, preventing the water from freezing for a bit longer. Plus, the larger the black rubber tub, the slower it’ll freeze!

You can even use an old tire, add some foam insulation, place a 5-gallon bucket or a water tub at the center, and boom, your flock will have fresh drinking water even in winter. Here’s a handy video showing how:

There’s one downside to repurposing a tire – baby chicks are too small to reach the water. Keep them in a brooder box and only let them out in the chicken run or backyard when they are big enough.

2. Ping Pong Balls

ping pong ball

Another great trick is to put ping pong balls in the rubber tub. You may be skeptical that this will work! When there is even the slightest breeze, ping pong balls move throughout the water, preventing ice from forming.

This is not a permanent solution though. Eventually, the water will freeze. The ping pong balls will just cover the surface area to slow down the freezing process.

3. Salt Water Bottle

Many people suggest putting a saltwater bottle in a chicken waterer to prevent it from freezing. No, you aren’t adding the salt directly to the water. That would be bad and even deadly for your birds (1).

The severity of clinical signs and mortality in flocks differs depending on the amount of excess salt ingested and the age of birds.

Sodium is still crucial to your birds’ diet though. As a matter of fact, most feeds have sodium but at lower levels. So, whatever you do, NEVER give salt water to your flock, and DON’T add salt to their water.

To make your own saltwater bottle, take a plastic soda bottle, fill it with water and add ¼ cup of table salt.

If you are wondering what the salt to water ratio to prevent freezing is, there is no perfect amount as freezing will still eventually occur. You can adjust the amounts of water and salt based on the size of your bottle and waterer.

After making the bottle, just put it in the bucket.

It isn’t a perfect science, but if you are wondering how to keep water from freezing in a chicken coop without electricity, this trick might work for you!

4. Start With Warm Water

As you refill your chickens’ water throughout the day, try adding some warm water to the bowl instead. Granted, warm water doesn’t stand much of a chance if the wind chill is in the negatives – it’ll still freeze, just not as fast!

Lukewarm water will take longer to freeze, giving you a break from having to change it again.

Never ever use boiling water. It can melt the rubber tub and burn your bird’s tiny tongue. Always use lukewarm water if you’re going to try this method.

5. Attract The Sunlight

Another method for chicken owners who are wondering how to keep water from freezing without electricity is to create a sort of sunroom for your chickens.

Create one or two walls around your chicken water with glass panes.

The glass will attract the sunlight, creating a nice sunny spot for your water, which will slow down the freezing process. 

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep your chickens and their water a bit warmer this winter, you can also make a sunroom in the chicken coop.

6. Get Some Ducks

ducks

Seriously! You already have some chickens, so ducks aren’t a far stretch!

Ducks love to splash in the water, even when it’s cold. They will be fine; they have down to keep them warm. So long as your trough is nice and large, the ducks will want to splash and play, preventing the surface from turning to ice.

7. Dig A Hole And Bury The Water Bucket

We’re not kidding. If you want to prevent your chicken’s water from freezing in the winter, just a dig hole and bury the water bucket. You don’t need a light bulb or electricity. You’re going to rely on manure to heat up the water.

First, dig a hole. It should be bigger and wider than your 5-gallon bucket. Aim for at least 6″ deeper and 9″ wider.

Then, add some fresh manure layer first. The bucket will sit on top. Fill the hole with the rest of the manure. Overfill the bucket with water.

Prevent dirt (and manure) from getting into the water by adding a top cover and making sure that the bucket sits 4″-6″ above the ground level.

So, how do you change the water using this method?

Well, you will have to dig it out of the ground, clean it, and then, refill it. You will also have to add fresh manure when it becomes well-composted.

If you don’t have access to fresh manure, you can bury an old tire (with insulation foam) in the ground. Dig a hole – should be wider and taller than the tire. Place the tire in the hole, fill the gap with soil, and then put the bucket in. Lastly, add water. For safety, add a cover too.

Pro tip: You can stack several tires together.

8. Make Your Own Chicken Water Heater

A quick search online will bring up dozens of ideas for a DIY chicken water heater – just make sure you are doing so safely.

Some of those ideas may cause a fire, such as the popular cookie tin heaters.

One good idea is to try a light bulb inside of a cinder block or a stepping stone.

The rough surface stops the water container from sliding, and the cinder block won’t catch fire.

9. Electric Dog Water Bowl

If your coop does have access to electricity, an electric dog water bowl is a great solution. They are rather inexpensive, durable, and safe. Plus, you don’t have to make it yourself!

10. Aquarium Heater

Aquarium Water Heater

Some people like to use a submersible chicken water heater.

You can purchase a small aquarium heater that sits in the water and keeps it warm.

Aquarium heaters tend to work best if you are using upside-down or bucket nipple waterers. Using this method prevents the chickens from pecking the heater and damaging it.

11. Head To A Farm And Fleet Store

Farm and fleet stores typically sell heated chicken waterers. You can also find a chicken water heater for plastic waterers that looks like a metal plate that you sit the waterer on.

The major downfalls with these options are that they are pricey, and you will need at least one electrical extension cord to make it happen.

If you want to save money, try a different route. If you’re looking to buy a new chicken waterer, grab some inspiration from our detailed review on the 7 best chicken waterers currently on the market!

WARNING: Are You Making These Common Chicken Water Mistakes?

You may wonder if there is an additive to keep water from freezing.

Chicken owners have tried everything from molasses and apple cider vinegar to wine. 

Take a look at this article on ChickenWaterer.com, explaining this lack of evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar as a water additive.

Many chicken owners have also asked how much salt to keep water from freezing, that they can add to their chicken waterer. Unfortunately, it would take more salt than is safe for your chickens to consume to stop it from freezing.

Drinking salt water will dehydrate your chickens rather than hydrate them, so don’t risk it!

The safety of your chickens is paramount, but it is one piece of the puzzle. Ever wondered: How Cold Is Too Cold For Chickens?

Remember: keep your chickens’ water just that – water – and instead, use one (or more!) of the options listed above.

Now You Know How To Keep Your Chickens Hydrated In Winter

Figuring out how to stop your chickens’ water from freezing is a trial and error process. What works for your neighbor might not work for you!

However, it is important to find a method that works for your flock so you can keep your chickens healthy and comfortable.

Give a few of these ideas a try and let us know what worked best for you in the comments. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends so they can too prevent water from freezing!

Recommended Next Reading: The Best Chicken Coop Heater: 7 Systems, Reviewed

FAQs

Yes, glycerin can stop water from freezing- it lowers the water’s freezing point. However, it’s not particularly safe for your flock, and if in high quantities, you might poison your hens. If you prefer a safer route to keep the chicken water from freezing, you can try any of the mentioned 10 tips above. Alternatively, you can go out several times a day and break the frozen top layer of the bucket.

Yes, chickens need water in winter. They don’t drink as much as during summer, however, it’s still important to provide them with clean and fresh water even in winter. Dehydration may lead to weight loss, lower egg production, and decrease flock mobility. On average, a chicken will drink a pint or .5 liters of water per day.

You can keep your chicken waterer nipples from freezing by switching to horizontal nipples. This type of nipple is more suitable during winter because the seal is within the water reservoir. To save money and hassle, some backyard chicken owners attach a heating pad near the nipples.

  1. Salt Intoxication. Retrieved from: http://www.poultrydvm.com/condition/salt-intoxication

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