How to keep chicken water from freezing

How to Keep Chicken Water From Freezing

With the winter season fast approaching, you should be taking the necessary measures to ensure that your farm animals have a healthy environment in which to rest. In the case of chickens, not only should their coop be warm and comfortable, but they should also have access to water.

To ensure your water remains thawed and your chickens can access it, follow some of these ideas on how to keep your chicken water from freezing.

1. Insulate Coop

Insulate coop for chickens

One of the ways in which you can protect your chickens from the cold temperature is to insulate their coop. While a coop is typically made of wood, you can also add insulation to the walls and roof to keep the body heat within the coop.

You can also add insulation to the floors to keep it warm. Since the water is typically placed in troughs on the ground, ensuring that the ground, itself, is kept as warm as possible is vital.

With a warm ground, the freezing temperatures will have a more difficult time in creeping to the water and freezing it from the base and up.

While chickens don’t generate a lot of heat, they do generate enough to keep the coop relatively warm. The insulation will help ensure that the heat remains inside of the coop and keep the water warm enough to prevent freezing.

2. Heated Troughs

Another staple of keeping the water from freezing inside of the coop or outside of it is to have heated troughs. This is the most effective method for keeping the water warm regardless of its location.

Heated troughs are required to be connected to an electrical source to remain powered up. If the electric power is knocked out, then your heated trough may no longer be functional. You’ll need to check on it to ensure it keeps from freezing.

However, outside of losing power, your heated trough will do a great job of keeping the water warm and comfortable to drink for your chickens.

3. Heated Coop

Heated coop in winter

To take your insulated coop to the next level, you could install heating inside of your coop. Small space heaters or vent-heaters can be placed within the coop near water sources.

With the heat flowing through the coop, the water won’t have a chance to freeze. This will also require an electrical system. So, if the power goes out, then your coop may be at risk of freezing.

Even if you don’t have a trough, you can still find smaller sources of water that also have heating capabilities. Buckets, jobs, and even bottles can be connected to a power source that can heat it.

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4. Add Molasses

Another option that those who don’t want to rely on electricity can try is to add molasses to the water. Molasses acts as a natural antifreeze. While the water won’t completely freeze, it may become slightly slushy.

Because molasses adds some flavor to the water, it might even encourage your chickens to drink more of the water. It’s extremely important for your chickens to drink water, particularly during colder temperatures. They can become dehydrated quicker in the winter than in the summer.

If chickens don’t receive enough water, they can develop a sour stomach or even bladder infections. In the event of a sour stomach, they may be less prone to eating. This can cause them to become lethargic or to start to wither away. They may also produce fewer eggs.

Adding in molasses to the water can keep it from freezing without the use of electricity.

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5. Apple Cider

Another method that doesn’t require electricity is adding in apple cider to the water. It shouldn’t be a lot, and it may only prevent the water from freezing entirely. It will likely still have some slush to it, but it will keep the water from freezing.

6. Salt

Continuing with methods for keeping your chicken’s water from freezing without electricity, you might also want to add in a few dashes of salt into the water. Your chickens may not enjoy the taste as much, but it can keep the water from freezing.

You don’t need to eat a lot of salt. Just a few pinches inside of a bowl should be enough. If your water does freeze up, you can also use salt to help melt it back into drinkable water.

Another method if you’re not sure if your saltwater is a little too salty for your chickens is to place salt in a water bottle or jug. Then you can place that bottle or jug inside of the actual chicken bowl or trough. Because the saltwater won’t free, it will keep the freshwater from freezing, too.

In addition, the freshwater will remain fresh and be more tolerable from which your chickens can drink.

7. Protect Faucets

Heated coop

If you rely on faucets to provide your chickens with water, then you need to make sure they’re protected in the winter. Even faucets that are supposed to be freezeproof can still freeze in extremely cold temperatures.

One of the ways that you can protect the faucet is to wrap it in a blanket, styrofoam, or even bubble wrap. This can help keep the faucet insulated from the cold.

You should learn how to unhook the hose from the faucet. Water can become trapped in the hose and freeze. If it clogs up the line, then you won’t be able to get water into your chicken bowl or trough.

After you use the faucet, you should unhook the hose and drain it entirely to keep it from clogging the line. Once it’s drained and dry, you can hook the hose back up. No longer will you need to worry about trying to turn your faucet on and have nothing coming out to water your chickens.

If you find that your hose is clogged, you can bring it into your home to thaw. Run it under some hot bath water to remove the clog faster.

8. Cleaning Water Source

You’ll also need to frequently clean the water source. Whether it’s a jug, bowl, or trough, you’re going to need to keep it clean. Ice can sometimes start to collect on dirt and other debris in the water faster than it does ice.

By keeping the water source clean throughout the winter, your chickens will not only be healthier, but their water source will be less likely to freeze.

9. Propane

Propane for chicken coop

A popular method for keeping the water warm for your chickens is to hook up the source to propane. Just like many homes are hooked up to propane to heat their homes, you can also use it to heat up either the coop or the water source, itself.

You should only need a small propane tank to keep the water source and coop warm. While this isn’t an inexpensive way to keep the water from freezing, it is effective.

10. Place a Float in the Water Source

Finally, you can keep your water from freezing by placing some sort of float inside of the water. The size of the float should be dependent on how large the water source is. For a large trough, you may need a larger float. For a smaller bowl, you may only need a quarter of the size for your float.

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A float helps keep your water from freezing by keeping the water moving. When water is in motion, it has a more difficult time freezing. Add in a fountain or some other movement to the water to really help keep the water thawed.

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Choose What Best Fits You

Clearly, there are many ways that you can keep your chicken water from freezing. While the best method is just to heat the coop or trough, there are also other options for those who cannot install electricity.

"People talk about fools counting chickens before they hatch. That's nothing. We name them."
-- Orson Scott Card, Alvin Journeyman

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