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Heated Chicken Waterer: What’s Best for Your Flock?

Heated Chicken Waterer What’s Best for Your Flock Blog Cover

It’s getting to be that time of year again when those of us in ‘the frozen North’ can all look forward to frozen drinking troughs and waterers and a trek through the snow to take fresh water to our flock.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to do that trek several times a day? Well, you can avoid some of it, and we’re going to talk about how today.

Heated chicken waterers aren’t new – they have been around for several years and seem to improve each year.

In this article, we discuss what makes the perfect heated chicken waterer, why you should be using one, and much more…

 Best Overall Heated Chicken Water

Farm Innovators Heated Chicken Waterer

Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain
Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain
  • Every chicken owners dream for winter
  • No more frozen water. Has a thermostat so only turns on when necessary
  • All in one solution: plug it in, fill it up and it’s ready to go

See Price on Amazon

What Makes the ‘Ideal’ Heated Chicken Waterer?

Everyone has their own idea about the perfect heated waterer, but I bet we are similar in many points. It should be:

  • Easy to fill
  • Easy to clean
  • Plastic or non-corrosive material (apple cider vinegar will corrode metal)
  • Minimal waste
  • Thermostatically controlled
  • Long electric cord

The Best Heated Chicken Waterers: Quick Glance

All-Seasons Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain Heated Waterer 3 Gallon
See Price
Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base Bottom Plate N/A
See Price
K&H Heated Pet Bowl Heated Bowl 2 Gallon
See Price
Water Deicer with Guard Deicer N/A
See Price

Except for the long cord, most of these wishes have been granted by the manufacturers. I would love to know why they won’t give you more than three feet of cord though!

Plastic is the ideal material since it’s easy to clean and you can see the water level through the plastic.

It’s not as heavy as metal and as we already mentioned it won’t corrode.

As for minimal waste, we recently talked about chicken nipples here.

Advantages of a Heated Chicken Waterer

Chickens Drinking

People who live in moderate climates often wonder what all the fuss is with heated waterers.

Those of us that live in areas that get snowbound from December to March know full well what all the fuss is about.

At the beginning of the season, it seems adventurous, almost fun (like the pioneers) but by the end of the season, we are heartily fed up of carrying buckets of water to the coops 3-4 times a day in blowing snow and frigid temperatures.

Trust me when I say the older you get the less fun it is!

Heated waterers allow us the luxury of only having to venture out a couple of times to check on the ladies or fill up the waterer.

Types of Heated Chicken Waterers Available

Depending on what you want or prefer, there are a few different types of heated units available.

Heated Waterer

The Best Heated Chicken Waterer

Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain
Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain
  • Every chicken owners dream for winter
  • No more frozen water. Has a thermostat so only turns on when necessary
  • All in one solution: plug it in, fill it up, and it’s ready to go

See Price on Amazon

These types are usually plastic and have a heating element built into the base. There are several different makes but they all basically function the same way. They are the most popular on the market today.

When the temperature dips down below 30 Fahrenheit the heater comes on to prevent the water from freezing.

They work well when the temperature is in the twenties, even teens, but single-digit temperatures can cause the ice to build up inside. They can be either top fill or bottom fill for water.

My favorite is from Farm Innovators and can be bought for around $50.00. Mine has lasted 3 years; it’s easy to fill and use and stays thawed even on brutally cold days.

Bottom Plate

The Best Heated Poultry Drinker Base

Heated Poultry Drinker Base
Harris Farms: Heated Poultry Drinker Base
  • Will prevent water from freezing down to a temperature of 10F
  • Galvanized steel used to prevent rust and steel from flaking
  • Easy setup- just plugin and place your steel drinker on top

See Price on Amazon

These are made to sit underneath metal waterers to keep them from freezing. They aren’t suitable for plastic waterers as they may cause them to melt and start a fire.
These items put out quite a bit of heat, so be careful using them.
Also some come without a ‘base’ to cover the element – personally I think that a little dangerous so get the completely covered in base if you can.

Heated Bowl

The Best Heated Bowl

Heated Pet Bowl
K&H Pet Heated Pet Bowl
  • 1.5 gallon capacity suitable for a flock of up to six hens
  • Heavy duty power cable with anti-chew protector to stop predators chewing line
  • Built in water heater stops water from freezing even down to 10F

See Price on Amazon

These are similar in design to heated pet bowls. They do work well in keeping the water unfrozen, however there are a few drawbacks.

The water does not stay clean for long; as you can imagine the chickens lose no time in scratching dirt, poop and bedding into the water.

They are also rather small. If you only have a couple of chickens it would do fine, but any more than 3-4 birds will have you visiting the coop to refill several times a day.

I do use one but it is used as a secondary source of water.


The Best Chicken Water Deicer

Chicken Deicer
Water Deicer with Guard and 6-Foot Cord
  • Capable of keeping up to 15 gallons of water fresh and not frozen
  • Comes with adjustable clamp so you can firmly fix deicer to water container
  • Is suitable to use with existing chicken drinker such as bucket, pan or trough

See Price on Amazon

These items are designed to be plugged into the electric, put into the container and keep the water from freezing. It’s basically a small version of a stock tank heater.

If you have recently made yourself a chicken nipple waterer, a deicer would work very well in keeping the unit ice free.

A very nice thing about the chicken nipples in the cold weather is that birds don’t tend to get their wattles wet, so they are less prone to frostbite.

Alternatives to Heated Chicken Waterers

Chicken Drinking Water

We have covered the most popular heating items, but there are just a few more to take a look at.


Unless you already have solar power in place, I don’t recommend this for chicken waterers. Installing solar power costs a significant amount of money and in the northern areas it would be doubtful if you could harness enough sun power to keep the water unfrozen.

If you already have the system, add your waterer to the circuit.

Something you can do if you happen to get a lot of sun is set up a mini greenhouse area for your girls.

All it requires is an old window and a couple of supports to make a triangular area in which you can sit the water to keep it from freezing. This will work nicely for those days when the sun does shine, and the wind isn’t too brisk.

Battery Operated Water Heaters

This is another money-draining idea.

Battery-operated sounds great, but the battery power is eaten up rather quickly which ends up costing you money you don’t need to spend. Be prepared to use up to 8 size ‘D’ batteries overnight!

Rubber Pans

These are good to use in a pinch. Yes they do freeze, but when you need to refill them you just turn them over and jump on them a couple of times!
The ice will break away easily and you won’t damage the bowl. I have been using mine for a couple of years now and they are indestructible.
If you set them in the sun they will actually absorb the heat and keep the water unfrozen a little bit longer.

Ping Pong Balls

Another idea I came across was using ping pong balls to float on the water. The theory being that with a breeze blowing, the surface of the water is disrupted by the balls inhibiting freezing.
I did try this one year and ended up with frozen ping pong balls – but perhaps you will have better luck!

Cinder Block Heater

This requires a bit of DIY but is not difficult to do.
Your supplies are:

  • Cookie tin (without the cookies)
  • Lamp kit
  • 40w light bulb
  • Drill
  • 3/8 inch drill bit

Drill a hole through the side of the cookie tin. Thread the lamp wire assembly through the hole.

Plug in and test – you should have light and heat!

Place the lid on the cookie tin and set the waterer on top – if you need extra height use a block of wood or cinder block to stand it on.

This works very nicely and surprisingly doesn’t get too hot, but keep it away from dry bedding just in case. More on how to build one here.

How Many Waterers Does Your Flock Need?

Chickens Drinking 2

How many waterers should you have for your flock? I try to average one waterer for every 10-12 birds over the winter.

I use a variety of waterers:

  • a hanging heated 3 gallon waterer
  • a large heated dog bowl
  • a large rubber pan (this serves everyone’s needs for the day)

I place them far apart from each other so there isn’t any ‘water guarding’ going on – I do the same with the feed too.
Long winter months lead to boredom in the flock and guarding food and water is a favorite pastime for a couple of the more assertive girls.
If you can, avoid putting the waterers into the coop. They do give off moisture and you really want the coop to be dry. Damp and cold can lead to frostbite in birds with pronounced combs and wattles which will give you a whole other set of problems to deal with.

Best Heated Chicken Waterers: Summary

You really can’t go wrong with the plastic waterers with the heated base. They are well built and mine have lasted 3 years but now need the cords replacing.

We have shown you a variety of heated chicken waterers here so hopefully, something will fit the needs of your flock.

As a word of caution, if you have small chicks do not use open pans of water (such as dog bowls or rubber pans) as the chicks can easily fall in and either drown or freeze to death.

Here’s hoping your winter is mild and short.

Let us know in the comments section below how you stop your chickens’ water from freezing…

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7 thoughts on “Heated Chicken Waterer: What’s Best for Your Flock?

  1. my husband prefers the egg shaped heated watering container, says it’s easier for him to fill but it’s price is much more than the poultry fountain. (We have one of each).

  2. Hello! Love the blog!
    If I am not to put the water or feed in the coop to prevent dampness, where should I put it? Is hanging in the run okay? Do chickens not need access to water at night?

    1. Theres different approaches to this, but as a rule of thumb we never put water in the coop, it just makes everything messy and the perfect environment for bacterial, mold, and disease. Put the water in the run, they do not drink at night.

  3. I built a cookie tin heater 2 years ago, and have a black rubber 2 gal water bowl on top of it and have never had a freezing problem

  4. Lots of great information as usual but in looking at the horrible reviews on the 3 gallon heated water you show at the top of the list….I am very hesitate to take the chance. Several even say they should have heeded the reviews as they had the same problems and more. Anyway keeping water free from freezing is always a challenge. I might try the one with the side nipples but don’t know how to transition my girls from on open bucket to nipples.

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