Tried everything to keep the Chicken Waterer from freezing..?

Yep – me too!

Attempt 1

I’ve tried all the old wives tales, ping pong balls in the water bowl. The idea being that it will float and the wind moves it across the surface of the water, constantly breaking the surface tension, preventing freezing.

It works ‘ok-ish’ but not so much, and not when its really cold. When its really cold you come out and the water and ping pong ball is frozen.

Attempt 2

Stage 2 was up the ante. Switched out the ping pong ball for a tennis ball. The ideal being it will work using the same theory, just the tennis ball has a larger surface area so will move more water, thus stopping it from freezing.

Another fail.

The wind pushed the ball to the edge and froze it firmly in place.

Do what they do on the roads with salt, someone said to me, add a salt block to the water…..? Stupid. Absolute no no. Do not do this. The salt will dissolve and my chickens will have too much salt in their water. I will make them really ill or kill them (just for the record I obviously didn’t try this).

I ran out of ideas.

Normally at this point, I’d walk into the workshop on our farm and build a DIY water heater. But I didn’t.

I’m worried, and with good reason – electricity, water & animals. Not a combination that normally goes well together. One badly connected or loose wire and I could electrocute everything. I’m not risking it.

The dreaded words then came out of mouth ‘I’m going to have to purchase one’. For a man who likes to build and fix everything this was tough.

Next out my mouth was ‘well I aint just buying any old rubbish’. I’m a simple guy, I like stuff to just work first and foremost. And secondly I like it to work well and thirdly, I like it to stay working.

The internet is full of nonsense reviews, ‘best reviewed this’ and ‘best reviewed that’ its either written by the manufacturers themselves or someone they’ve have paid in my opinion.

Or people review stuff they have never owned or used about animals they have never even kept.

Now I can’t buy the absolutely best, more expensive thing every time, I just can’t afford it. Plus we have several chicken coops scattered over the farm. If I bought one for each coop, I’d be broke!

So I’m looking for that sweet spot.

That sweet spot is a heated chicken waterer that will do the business in freezing temperatures, that will last and that doesn’t cost the earth.

Best Large Heated Chicken Waterer

Farm Innovators ‘All Seasons’ [Fountain]

3 gallon heated chicken waterer

  • Thermostatically controlled, only operates when it’s necessary, meaning it won’t be on all the time running up your electric bill.
  • 3 Gallon (13.6L) so enough water for 5-6 birds for about 10-14+ days.
  • Will prevent water freezing down to 0 degrees F (-17.8C)
  • It comes with a manufacturers one year warranty.
  • Can be placed down flat or hung up
  • Fills up from the bottom, so doesn’t you don’t have to remove the base from the top. Just flip it over (top is flat so it stays level) and fill it up.
  • Suitable for outdoor use
  • Very efficient 100 watt heater

4 Things They Could Improve:

  1. Power cord is only a few feet (aint that always the way!) so I have to use an extension.
  2. It’s got a plastic handle, I would have preferred metal, as that’s obviously stronger.
  3. After filling, be careful when turning it back over, I’ve had it come apart spilling water on me.
  4. That flat top is a bonus when refilling but it could encourage it to be roosted on, which may lead to hens pooping in the water. Never happened to me, as my roost bars are higher than the height of it ( which is about 16-18 inches (45cm)) Not a massive issue anyway and not an issue at all if you plan to hang it up. Can’t really blame them if they want to warm their feet anyway…..hehe!

Electricity Usage

Electricity usage is calculated in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kWh is 1,000 watts. This heated chicken waterer is a 100-watt. So operating for ten hours would use one kilowatt-hour. I think during the winter that’s a fair assumption of usage, say 8-10 hours, per day.

Cost to Run

Monthly running costs therefore are $2.60 (this will vary based on your rate, but electricity is generally cheaper at night anyway, so I don’t mind it at all)

My review: Pretty good for the money, its plastic so expect a shorter lifespan than metal, mine has just done its 3rd season and still going strong. I’ve only tested this down to 23F (-5C) and it did the job.

Star Rating 4/5


Best Small Heated Chicken Drinker [with nipples]

Farm Innovation Heated Poultry Drinker

2 gallon heated chicken waterer with nipples

  • Nipples are drip free! (no more wet bedding or soggy floor)
  • 2 gallons (9L) , so perfect size for smaller flocks
  • Has 3 nipples, so 3 hens can drink at once.
  • Can be hung up OR placed down on the ground
  • Suitable for outdoor usage
  • Metal handle, will last much longer than plastic
  • Easy refill -you refill this by the top, can even be refilled whilst hanging up too
  • 60 watt heating unit is efficient and thermostatically operated.

What could be improved:

Cable length is only a few feet.

The power cable comes out from the bottom of the unit, slight trip hazard. If it came out the top I could run it up to the roof of the coop and out that way.

Not so much an improvement, more an observation – if you have very young chicks they will need to be shown how to use nipples if they don’t have experience drinking in this way.

How much power will it use?

60 watt heater, operating for 8-10 hours per day will use 14-16 kWh a month.

Cost to run per month

Around $1.5

My review: A good drip free nipple drinker for the price, and perfect for small flocks.

Star Rating 4.2/5


Best Heated Chicken Waterer Base

‘Harris Farms’ Heated Poultry Drinker Base

With nearly all other heated bases you cant use plastic waterers with them. This one is different, you can use it with both metal and plastic waterers! So this solution is perfect if you already have an existing waterer.

Harris heated poultry base

Benefits of having a heated waterer base:

  • Can use it with an existing waterer
  • Can fit a large waterer on top as diameter of heated base is 16.3’’ (41.4cm)
  • The base should easily hold 5-10+ gallon waterers.
  • Prevents freeing down to 10F (-12C)
  • Can be used outdoors if undercover and dry

How Best to Use This [in my opinion]

I wouldn’t place the base unit down directly on the floor. The reason for this is chicken are messy drinkers. They will get water over the floor and that could run under the base unit. Near to all at electric wiring. Not great as it could ruin the base unit.

My advice then is to place the base unit on a brick [or 2] so that its safely off the floor a couple inches. The bricks will indirectly absorb some of the heat and act like a radiator for the coop too, excellent in really cold weather!

Energy usage

A 125 watt heater in the base will use 28 – 35kWh of energy per month. This is will it being in use 8-10 hours per day.

Cost to run

This unit will cost around $3 per month

My rating: My Favorite.  Suitable for metal and plastic waterers. Has a 125 watt heater so great for larger, 3+ gallons waterers.

Star Rating 4.5/5


Best Heated Water Bowl For Chickens

‘Farm Innovators’ Heated Water Bowl

Heated poultry bowl

These are great if you have chickens and ducks feeding from the same waterer. My ducks don’t really like drinking from waterers, I think it because they can make more of a mess with a bowl!

This is suitable for all poultry including chickens, ducks, quail, geese etc. It never recommend to leave an open bowl of water with chicks. They could fall in an drown.

With this one the sides high enough so young chicks couldn’t really get into it, which is why it’s my recommendation.



  • Its made from BPA plastic so the chemicals from the plastic wont leach into the water.
  • Heavy duty, steel wrapped, power cord
  • 1.25 gallon capacity
  • 60 watt heater, very low running cost
  • Thermostatically controlled
  • Square design, will fit neatly into corners
  • 1 year warranty

How much power will a heated bowl use?

60 watt heater, operating for 8-10 hours per day will use 14-16 kWh a month.

How much will it cost to run

Around $1.5 per month

Star Rating 4/5

Best Chicken Waterer De-Icer

‘Farm innovators’ ‘Utility’ De-Icer


chicken de icer in watererDesigned to be used with drinkers or nipple buckets, they are very versatile and can be used in bowls and large troughs too.

Powerful 125 watt heater

Great add on if you already have a drinker, bowl or trough

Safe in containers up to 50 gallons! [including plastic containers]

Made with cast aluminum for efficiency, durability & safety

Available in different sizes [125 watt up 500 watt] depending on the amount of water you’re trying to stop from freezing.


At 125 watts, how much will it cost to run?

About $3.25 per month being used 8-10 hours per day

My view: This what you want as its fantastic for heating very large troughs.

Star Rating 4/5


That’s the short list – all you have to do is pick one!

Never suffer from freezing cold hands breaking ice or filling up the chicken waterers again!

Poultry Pages