As cold weather descends on our chicken coops
and tractors, I tend to get a flurry of emails. Everyone wants to know the same thing — will the Avian Aqua Miser work in the winter? My quick answer — it will work better than a
conventional gravity-feed waterer, but you’ll need to do a little more work as the weather cools.
First of all, throwing a stock tank heater in the Avian Aqua Miser doesn’t work since the nipple tends to freeze before the reservoir. We’re still working on an innovative solution to that problem. If you’ve figured it out, we’d love to hear from you!
(Edited on October 29, 2013 to add: Actually, we’ve solved this problem in the years since we wrote this post. You can always see the
most up-to-date posts on our heated chicken waterer page. As of today, we use a homemade heated chicken waterer built around one of our Avian Aqua Miser Original kits, two buckets, and a
three foot length of pipe heating cable ($23). However, our tips for using unheated waterers still stand the test of time, so keep reading.)
We have three chicken tractors, so we use pre-made (half gallon) Avian Aqua Misers. We find it easy to take the waterers in at night after the girls have settled down on their roosts, hanging the clean waterers on a shelf in the kitchen then replacing the waterers in the tractors the next morning. We like to have a few extra waterers on hand, though, since sometimes we forget and let our waterers stay out overnight and freeze solid. The frozen waterers thaw out within a few hours indoors with no apparent damage (though I suspect the reservoir might crack after a few months if we just left them out to freeze every night.)
In a coop setting, especially with large bucket waterers, most chicken-keepers instead opt to prevent the Avian Aqua Miser from freezing in the first place. You’d be surprised at how well a light bulb in the coop works to keep the air temperature above 32 F. The light bulb will also extend the day length and keep your chickens laying at summertime levels all winter long!