Easy Way to Keep your Chickens' Water from Freezing - No Electricity Needed


Keeping your flock's water from freezing is one of the biggest challenges to raising chickens in the winter. If you have electricity to your coop, the easiest way is to just plug in a heated dog water bowl. They're easy to clean and refill, and keep the water safely warmed to just above freezing. If you don't have any electricity hooked up, then it's a bit more challenging, but I'll show you how to keep your chickens' water from freezing using just a rubber tub and old tire. Honest!

I use large black rubber tubs for our chicken and duck water year round since ducks have a knack for emptying gravity waterers in a heartbeat. Ducks also need a deeper water source to dunk their heads into, so the tubs work perfectly. When we lived in Virginia, filling the tubs and setting them in the sun in the winter was usually sufficient to keep the water from freezing. However, now that we live in Maine and are facing a winter when the temperatures hover near or below freezing for weeks on end, I knew I needed to step up my game when it came to winter water.


Enter this easy hack using an old car tire. All you do is stuff the inside of the tire with styrofoam, packing bubbles or some other material to 'insulate' it. Then set the tire in the sun, add a few pieces of scrap wood, bricks or stone pavers in the center (or more packing material) to slightly elevate the rubber tub off the ground so it sits level with the top of the tire, then set the tub in the center and fill it with water. Using the heat of the sun being absorbed into both the black tire and black rubber tub will help keep the water unfrozen far longer than water just in a tub. And far, far longer than water in a traditional gravity feeder with a much smaller surface area.

And one final tip, float a few ping pong balls in the tub. Even the slightest breeze will get the balls bobbing, creating tiny waves which keep the surface of the water from freezing.

-stuff the inside of the tire with plastic packing bubbles, styrofoam or other 'insulation'-
-add some scrap wood or more packing material to elevate the tub a bit to be even with the top rim of the tire-
-set your tub in the middle of the tire in full sun-
-fill with water-
-enjoy unfrozen water!-
-even our smaller chickens can easily reach in to drink, or sometimes stand on the tire-
-the ducks love the new waterer as well-


If you are concerned about water collecting inside the tire rim, you can poke a few holes in the underside before you start with a large nail and hammer or large drill bit.


For more ways to keep your chickens' water from freezing, read HERE.
For a similar version for larger livestock from Mother Earth News, read HERE.

Update: In the two weeks or so that I've been using this method, the weather hasn't really cooperated much and its not been getting terribly cold to sufficiently test it. But...in a side-by-side test against a regular black rubber tub, this waterer has stayed ice crystal-free, while the tub did start to form ice around the outer edge one particularly cold (mid-20's) day. I haven't been dumping the water out at night, and in the morning it's not frozen, and it's been dropped below freezing at night.

An added bonus, the ducks find it harder to muddy up the water this way and haven't been hopping in the tub as much to swim.


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