Best heated chicken waterer

Heated chicken waterer using heat tapeEdited 2/2/18:

We’ve tried several more heated chicken waterers since this post was made, both DIY and storebought. You can always find up-to-the-minute information on the best heated chicken waterers here.


Sick of frozen chicken waterers?  It’s quick and easy to turn your existing waterer into a heated waterer, some of which will keep your water liquid down to 20 below.  Here are the top DIY options:

  • Pipe heating cable — Sandwiching a line of heat tape between a pair of five gallon buckets has the side benefit of forming a lip that gives the nipples a bit of extra protection.  Waterproof heat tape can even be threaded into PVC pipe waterers.  Estimated cost — $26.
  • Heated bucket waterer — Modifying a pre-made heated bucket to work with our chicken nipples is one of the quickest methods of making a heated chicken waterer, and the lip that protects the nipples is reported by one customer to keep his water thawed down to 20 below.  Estimated cost — $50.
  • Stock tank deicerStock tank deicer — Throwing a stock tank deicer in an existing bucket waterer is a very dependable option since these sturdy deicers are made to deal with freezing temperatures and constant use. Estimated cost — $25.

Some other workable solutions include:

  • An aquarium heater plus thermocube — Aquarium heaters are the cheapest option, but they tend to have a short working life and to break down at inopportune moments (shocking your birds if the glass cracks!)  Adding a thermocube to the assemblage means that the aquarium heater only turns on when the temperature drops below 35, making the arrangement safer and using less electricity.  Estimated cost — $30.
  • Bird bath deicerBird bath deicer — These are very similar to stock tank deicers, but look to be a little more
    expensive.  Estimated cost — $35.
  • Rain gutter heater — This is similar to pipe heating cable and works well in PVC pipe waterers.  A quick search of the internet suggests that a rain gutter heater costs over $100, but I could be looking in the wrong
  • Heat lampHeat lamp — In a pinch, a heat lamp aimed at your waterer’s nipples will keep the water from freezing during moderately cold weather.  The problem with this design is that it’s not thermostatically controlled like the other options, and you’re heating the air rather than the water, so you’ll use a lot more electricity.  However, the start-up cost is very low — $10 for the bulb and perhaps another $10 if you don’t have a reflective fixture (and chicken keepers are likely to already have both on hand.)  In warm climates where you only see a freeze warning occasionally, this is a very good option.  We also find that adding a light shining on the nipples is an effective way to supplement other heating options when the temperature drops into the low teens and freezes the nipple.


So, who won our heated chicken waterer contest?  I had to make Mark judge the contest since I wanted to give out at least half a dozen prizes.  Congratulations to Lu Ann and Christian Shank who came up with a design that is elegant, cheap, and effective!  We’ll be putting a 10 pack DIY kit in the mail to them shortly.

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