Heated Chicken Waterers

Heated Chicken Waterers

Heard heated chicken waterers can make life easier, but aren’t sure which to buy? Not even sure they’re safe? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know!

For people like us, who raise animals out of the comforts of a heated home, cold is a serious problem. If the temperature drops too far, water freezes. While some animals can break ice – with breath and a hot tongue, or a beak – there are limits to what these resources can do. And when temperatures plummet, dehydration can be a major problem for your fur or feather babies. 

One solution – heated chicken waterers – are a simple method of providing water to your flock. Today we’ll look at the kinds of heated waterers available for our chickens. 

Our Favorite Heated Chicken Waterers On Amazon:

Do Chickens Need to Drink Water?

Oh yes, chickens absolutely drink water. It might be funny to watch them – they fill their mouths and then tip their heads back – but water is an absolutely necessary part of their daily diet. Actually, an adult chicken will drink a few cups of water per day. Get a group of 20 chickens together, and they’ll likely go through as much water per day as a cow. 

Are Heated Chicken Waterers Safe?

Mostly, yes. You need to watch out for how hot they get, and how much electricity they draw. It’s best to look at your user manual and reviews online for the specific unit you’re considering.

Are There Different Types Of Heated Chicken Waterers?

Not including home-made, there are three different types of heated chicken waterers:

Automatic Waterers 

These waterers contain a basin that has one or more openings at the base that open only when chickens use them. These are generally clean, neat, and very hygienic. Depending on the valve, these waterers also avoid dripping water and frozen puddles beneath them. However, some parts are more prone to freezing.

Gravity-Type Waterers 

These operate under the same principle as the automatic waterers, save for one major difference: the distribution method. These jugs generally are attached to an open pan (also known as a “drinker”) that your chickens will drink from. Because they are open, you run the risk of your birds contaminating the pan. The drinkers are also pretty easy to break off. 

Open Pans Or Dish-type Waterers 

These are often a pan set out over a heated base. They run the same risk of contamination as the gravity waterers, which will require more scrubbing than, say, the automatic waterers. Elevating them off the ground in the heated base will help to reduce the muddying of waters. 

What Makes The “Ideal” Heated Chicken Waterer?

This is a complicated question. There are several key elements to consider:

  • How cold does it get in your area?
  • How many chickens are in your coop?
  • What material works best for you?
  • Should it rest on the floor or be elevated? 
  • Is it durable enough or will it freeze? 

Affordability is another concern. Some options – like batteries – can cost a lot over time. Some heated chicken waterers (especially the do-it-yourself variety) could put unnecessary stress on your wallet. 

How many chickens have you got? The answer to this will determine the size of your waterer, as you don’t want to be slogging out into the cold every couple of hours to refill the water of your birds. 

In other words, the ideal waterer will completely depend on your flock. Just make sure it’s durable so in the event that the water does freeze, the container won’t rupture or break. 

Let’s further explore these questions below.

How Big Should It Be?

As previously mentioned, a flock of 20 birds will drink about as much as a cow – that’s a whole lot of water to provide. If your flock consists of fewer than 5 birds, a single 2-gallon waterer should suffice. Most single waterers range in size from about a gallon to 3 gallons. The heaters in heated chicken waterers are very adept at cooling off smaller areas, but anything larger than that could run into problems with the law thermal equilibrium, which states that temperatures will seek a balance. 

In extremely cold weather, some heaters might prove insufficient in warming large quantities of water. 

With the addition of more birds, you will probably need more heated chicken waterers. Some sources recommend having on three-gallon waterer for every 10 to 12 chickens. 

What Kinds Of Automatic Valves Are There For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Nipples are a type of automatic valve that is fast becoming a preferred method of watering chickens on cold winter days. These are designed to not release water until your chicken pokes it with their beaks. 

Floating valves are small cups of water. When your chickens dip their beaks into the cup, they press on a floating valve that releases fresh water into the cup. This provides a constant set amount of water in this hanging waterer.

Should I Use Plastic Or Metal For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Ultimately, that is your call. Both materials are excellent in cold weather. Plastic waterers are durable and do not break easily. Galvanized metal also holds up very well in extreme cold BUT freezes faster than plastic. Both can be found with internal or external heaters, though plastic heaters usually have the heating element in the base. 

Should I Hang My Heated Chicken Waterers Or Lay Them On The Ground?

This is an important question, that depends, in part, on what you have available in your coop or in your pen. One clear benefit of hanging waterers is you can raise it off the ground, and your chickens are less likely to roost on them (which means less poop). Elevating the water from the ground reduces the chances your flock will poop in it. 

Ground-based waterers don’t have to be messy, however. A waterer set upon a heating pad can still get that required height and also remain equally clean to hanging heated chicken waterers. 

How Often Should I Refill My Heated Chicken Waterer?

The easy answer is “Whenever they need filling.” Since most waterers can hold upwards of a couple of gallons, they have a bit of staying power. Still, you should be checking your waterers at least once every day. That way, you can top off the containers when you see they need it, and you can see if they need to be cleaned. Your chickens might have made a mess of the waterers, and you’ll want to clean them up as soon as possible. 

Are There Heated Chicken Waterers Without Electricity Needed?

Some heated chicken waterers don’t require electricity, such as solar powered heated waterers. Others include battery-powered heaters. You can read this article here for an excellent how-to that breaks down a number of means of keeping your chickens hydrated – and all without electricity!

What About Solar Heated Chicken Waterers?

The simplest solution would be to have a large black tub that is not too tall for your chickens to reach. Place this into the sunniest part of the coop, and over the course of the day, the heat from the sun might prove to be enough to keep your flock hydrated. In colder climates, however, this might not work as well, and alternative heating might be required. 

Are There Do-it-Yourself Heated Chicken Waterers?

There are a number of sources out there across the internet that offer solutions for homemade water heaters. Here’s 2 that we like:

Where to Find Heated Chicken Waterers?

You can usually find them at farm stores, like Tractor Supply. You can also find them on Amazon here:

We hope this information about heated chicken waterers helps you keep your chickens hydrated and healthy, even through the bitter chills have arrived! Stay warm!

Do Chickens Need Heat In Winter? Let’s Keep ‘Em Safe!

Do Chickens Need Heat In Winter? Let’s Keep ‘Em Safe!

Winter is coming, and that means I’m getting a lot of emails asking things like: “Do chickens need heat in winter?” and “Do you need heat lamps for chickens?”

 

Winter is a tricky time on the homestead because you’re navigating through cold weather, wet weather, snowy weather – sometimes all in the same day.

 

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that cold weather isn’t much of an issue with chickens….but cold WET weather can be deadly.

 

Every winter, I spend half my time wringing my hands because our chickens play outside when it’s freezing rain, and don’t have enough sense to go into the coop when the temperature drops further.

 

We haven’t lost a chicken to the cold yet (knock on wood), but I do stress in the winter months over their health.

 

So, to solve the question “do chickens need heat in winter”, the answer I’ll give you is: It depends.

 

Let’s look further.

 

Can chickens survive winter?

 

In short, yes. Chickens do quite well in freezing temperatures. They have natural defenses against the cold, and their feathers provide protection.

 

How?

 

Well, over winter, you might notice your chickens fluffing and ruffling their feathers. This isn’t just to make them look cute (although they do).

 

When your flock puffs their feathers, they’re creating a gap of air, which acts like a layer of insulation between them and the cold.

 

During the day, your flock likely will move around a lot; this keeps their bodies even warmer, including their feet, combs, and wattles.

 

At night, when they’re quiet, your chickens will keep their feet warm by crouching over them and insulating them with their feathers.

 

As for their combs and wattles, you probably will notice your chickens tucking their heads into their wings at night to protect them from frostbite.

 

So, chickens naturally are pretty prepared for cold weather.

 

Do chicken coops need heat?

 

Every winter, I get asked “Do we need heat lamps for chickens in winter?”

 

I’m personally not a fan of heating chicken coops, and I think heat lamps are fire hazards. We don’t heat ours.

 

Before I got wise to the dangers of heat lamps, more than once we woke up to a house filled with smoke because a chick or a piglet messed around and knocked the heat lamp over – and these were heat lamps with regular 75 watt bulbs in them.

 

So, that gives you some indication just how dangerous they are – and they’re exponentially MORE dangerous with the red heat lamp bulbs.

 

The red heat bulbs get extremely hot – we’ve tested their temperatures as high as 140 degrees before.

 

Chickens like to constantly reinforce their pecking orders, and all it takes is one careless hen to knock over a heat lamp and cause a fire.

 

Every winter, I’m sent photos of coops totally destroyed in a heat lamp fire – and the owner’s flock is totally gone.

 

I’m just plain not a fan of chicken coop heat lamps.

 

In most cases, chickens don’t need heat in winter, EXCEPT if you live in a very cold environment, such as parts of Minnesota or Canada that can easily reach -30 degrees F.

 

If you’re concerned your flock won’t be warm enough on particularly cold nights, offer your chickens some extra feed or cracked corn so they have extra calories to burn.

 

You can also feed your flock an extra meal or offer their grain free choice to keep their calorie count up.

Need some chicken treat recipe ideas? Check out my ebook Cluck Cakes!

do chickens need heat in winter

Freezing rain: The silent killer

 

More so than any other type of winter weather, freezing rain can devastate your flock.

And chickens, unfortunately, don’t always have enough sense to keep out of freezing rain.

 

Last winter was terrible with cold rains in freezing temperatures, and more than once, we had to run out and cover the runs with huge tarps to keep the rain from hitting our birds.

 

While in snow and cold wind chickens can fluff their feathers, if they’re doused with water from a cold rain, they have a harder time fluffing their feathers – and it can dangerously lower their body temperatures and cause stress on their bodies.

 

It’s hard to get your flock dry in cold weather once they’ve gotten drenched.

 

When there’s freezing rain in the forecast, our flock stays inside the coop for the day with some extra treats and boredom busters.

 

If your chickens DO become wet in cold weather, then I recommend using a heat lamp for a couple hours and toweling everyone off (if you don’t have too many).

 

Once everyone’s dry, then remove the heat lamp and keep them inside until the weather is better.

 

What Does a Chicken Coop Need in Winter?

 

Ok, now that we’ve established my deep and unrelenting hatred of heat lamps, let’s talk about how you CAN protect your flock over winter.

 

While your flock will naturally insulate themselves by fluffing their feathers, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to cold breezes.

 

One of the best ways you can protect your flock is by giving them a draft-free coop.


What does this mean?

 

Before cold sets in, go over your coop.

 

  • If it has windows, are they sealed well?
  • Does their door shut well at night?
  • Are there any gaps in the walls that can cause drafts?
  • Is the floor solid? Does it have holes?
  • Does the roof keep the coop dry?

 

When the chilly winds pick up, your flock will thank you for taking the time to eliminate any drafts from their house.

 

They’ll thank you even more for making sure that any cold rain or snow can’t get into their coop, so be sure to double check their roof and keep windows and doors closed when the winter weather gets really nasty.

 

Ventilation

 

You should also make sure your coop has adequate ventilation.

 

Because chickens will naturally stay inside their coop more during the winter, they’re more likely to drop manure inside their home….and breathe the noxious fumes of ammonia.

 

Keeping the coop clean and ensuring there’s adequate ventilation will help prevent any respiratory problems from creeping up.

 

Preventing frostbite

Frostbite is caused by cold combined with moisture, either from something like rain or moisture from the buildup of manure.

 

Like any other living organism, chickens are at risk for frostbite over winter, particularly on their combs, wattles, and legs.

 

All is not lost however. Frostbite CAN be prevented by coating the combs and wattles in a thick layer of petroleum jelly….if your chickens will sit still long enough.

 

Keeping Eggs from Freezing

 

When it comes to the question “do chickens need heat in the winter?,” the question isn’t just about your flock.

 

Eggs can easily freeze when the mercury dips, causing them to explode and become useless, so you should take extra care to gather eggs multiple times during the day.

 

If they are frozen, but unbroken, then let them thaw gently at room temperature. If they’re broken, then they can be fed to your chickens, other critters (like pigs), or composted.

 

Keeping your flock prepared for nasty weather is critical to helping your flock survive winter.

 

The bottom line is keep them dry, keep their home dry, and give them extra feed, and they’ll do just fine when the cold temperatures hit.

Do CHICKS need a heat lamp? Well, that’s a whole other story. Check out my Podcast on Raising Chicks Naturally for some advice on heat lamps for chicks!

I’d like to hear from you!


Did you ever wonder “Do chickens need heat in winter?” Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below!

 

References:

Hassanpour H, Khalaji-Pirbalouty V, Nasiri L, Mohebbi A, Bahadoran S. “Oxidant and enzymatic antioxidant status (gene expression and activity) in the brain of chickens with cold-induced pulmonary hypertension.” Int J Biometeorol. 2015 Nov;59(11):1615-21. doi: 10.1007/s00484-015-0968-z. Epub 2015 May 5. Accessed August 30, 2016.

 

Singh Y, Ravindran V, Wester TJ, Molan AL, Ravindran G. “Influence of feeding coarse corn on performance, nutrient utilization, digestive tract measurements, carcass characteristics, and cecal microflora counts of broilers.” Poult Sci. 2014 Mar;93(3):607-16. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03542. Accessed August 30, 2016


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