You can’t call yourself a farmer or homesteader until you have gone out in the freezing cold and broken up icy waterers. But, we think that experiencing that once or twice is plenty enough for anyone. There are several tips you can use to keep goat and chicken water from freezing.
So, unless we move back to Florida (where winter is 50 degrees), we need to find ways to keep waterers from freezing in the winter-time. (For more winter fun, check out these Winter Farm Activities you should try!)
Here are some ideas for how to keep chicken water from freezing:
For the lucky ones, you will have access to electricity of some kind. We have electricity in our big layer flock coop and our goat stall. Electricity will allow you to prevent frozen waterers by using heated waterers for your animals.
For our layer flock, they have a metal waterer. So we have a heated metal base that keeps their water from freezing.
How to keep goat waterers from freezing:
For the goats, we switch them over to a plastic heated bucket. You can also get tank de-icers which look kind of like a coil that you drop into the bottom of the water bucket.
If you have electricity, but maybe not directly in your coop, you can always run an extension cord. Make sure you follow safety rules.
Don’t put it where animals can chew it, make sure to inspect regularly for damage etc. We do this for our growout coop which is a few feet from our goat stall. In the growout coop we use a heated plastic poultry waterer.
For the plastic bucket and the plastic waterer, we do change these out during times that we don’t need them. The reason we do this is that they are pretty expensive. So we like to put them away and not risk them getting broken when they are not in use.
This year, we will be facing the no electricity situation for a few of our breeder coops. They are spaced significantly away from the barn and we are hesitant to run extension cords all over.
Plus, buying $40 – $50 heaters for 5 pens could get pretty expensive. However, we still need to figure out how to keep these chicken waters from freezing.
So, this year we will leave their small regular waterers in their coops with them at night, but we are also supplying them with big, wide, rubber bowls in their run area.
The hope is that the larger surface area will cause them to take longer to freeze over (the huge goat buckets we have took a long time to freeze last year).
We have also seen suggestions of using ping pong balls in the waterer (the wind blows, moves the ball and prevents ice build up) which we will also be using. We will let you know how this goes!
(update: the ping pong balls were hit or miss on whether or not they would prevent the water from freezing. However, the chickens LOVED having floating toys in their water)