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Five Easy Ways to Keep your Chickens' Water from Freezing this Winter

One of the most-often asked questions we get from readers is how to keep their chickens' water from freezing in the winter. 

Chickens need access to unfrozen water every day in order to stay healthy, laying well and alive, so it's very important to keep their water from freezing.

I don't leave my chickens feed or water overnight in the coop. Once they go to roost, they stay there until morning. They can't see well in the dark and so that means once they hop up on the roosting bar, they settle in for the night. 

Feed and water attracts bugs and rodents and just makes a mess. So outside in the run it stays (in the sun in the winter, in the shade in summer).

So that means I only have to keep the water temperatures above freezing by day, which makes things a lot easier. 

Here are my simple, inexpensive suggestions to keep water unfrozen through the winter months - I even have three suggestions that work without the use of electricity.

If You Don't Have Electricity

1. Large Black Rubber Tub 

The first and easiest way to keep water unfrozen longer is to switch from a traditional metal waterer to a wide, deep black rubber tub set in the sun. 

These metal waterers freeze up so fast because the metal gets cold and there's so little surface area. Conversely the black rubber tub absorbs the heat from the sun to keep the water warmer. 

Even more importantly, the larger surface area will help keep the water from freezing as fast.

To keep your water unfrozen even longer, check out this easy hack using an old car tire and your rubber tub!

2. Ping Pong Balls 

Float a few ping pong balls in your water tub. The slightest breeze will create waves in the water and keep a layer of ice from forming. 

Give it a try - this is probably the easiest way to keep your water from freezing.

3. Make a "Sunroom" 

Rig up a "solar sunroom" like this one and let the sun keep the water from freezing.

Your chickens will also love lounging in the warm sunny area out of the wind.

If You Do Have Electricity

If you DO have electricity to your coop and run area, you have a few more options. Heated waterer bases are available commercially, but they are expensive and don't seem to last more than one or two seasons.

There are tons of instructions online on how to make your own heated base out of a cookie tin, but the waterer can easily slide off the slick metal surface of the tin.

Even scarier, we've had several people tell us theirs caught on fire, and one guy, in the comments below this post actually had a chicken electrocuted. Not good.

And anyway, I prefer to store cookies in my cookie tins! So just say NO to the DIY cookie tin heater. Instead why not try....

4. Light bulb in a Cinder Block

This idea is brilliant. I found it HERE. You clamp a light bulb inside a cinder block and cover it with a stepping stone. Your waterer sets on top of it.

The rough surface prevents slipping and this couldn't be easier or safer in your run in winter.

5. Heated Electric Dog Water Bowl 

If you have an electricity source, the easiest way to provide water in the winter is to just plug in an electric dog water bowl. For about $20, you can buy one HERE.

I have been using this one for nearly four years and it's still going strong. It's durable, safe and easy to clean and refill. 

Bonus Suggestion! 

Get Some Ducks 

Since ducks will dabble and play in the water pretty much all day, a nice deep tub set in the sun where the ducks can get at it will almost ensure the water won't freeze. 

Of course it will be full of mud and debris within minutes, but at least it won't be frozen!

Do you have any other tips for keeping your water from freezing? I would love to hear them!


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  1. I have a heat lamp over my chicken water pan.

  2. We built a heater from a metal cookie tin with a low watt light bulb, with a plastic waterer on top. Worked great! We switched to a heated dog bowl, as it's faster to refill...

  3. In the winter, I switch from a plastic waterer to a rubber tub (learned that from you last year). It rarely froze over last winter, but I will add some ping pong balls this year as an extra precaution, plus it will be super cute!! Thank you for all the help you send out to us everyday.

  4. Thank you!!! This is a super useful post! I think the debate going on is interesting, but it just adds more information for the newbie. Great post! :)

  5. Hi
    Will be changing to a rubber tub as of tomorrow.
    This maybe a very stupid question but I'm in the alps and it's get very cold here, because of our position close to the mountain we have 6 full weeks without sunshine, and then it comes back for just a few minutes per day for a few more weeks - thus I am worried about the chickens being cold! and was thinking of putting a hot water bottle inside the coop at night! also perhaps a hot stone in the water that I could change regularly during the day went it gets cold.

    1. Hi there! Wow. Yes at least if its sunny by day, they can warm up and then retain that heat for overnight! I would for sure line the walls of your coop with straw bales, take up the dead air space as much as possible. You could put a hot stone in the water, that's a good idea actually.

  6. Love these ideas! I always have to go pour hot water on our metal waterer every morning in the winter time. Going to implement the deep water with the ping pong balls!

  7. I'm not sure any of those would work for us. It's -16C tonight. Like you, I realized that they don't drink (or eat) anything once they've roosted in the evening, so when I go in to lock them up, I bring the (now frozen) waterer inside and place it by the wood stove. Same for the goat's water. One thing I've noticed, though, chickens are tough. Mine don't seem to mind the cold much at all.

    1. What do you think about an electric aquarium water heater? I use a 5 gallon bucket with water nipples.