We have developed a line of poultry waterers, including this heated one you can make yourself. To construct the heated waterer, start with a 5-gallon bucket waterer with poultry nipples (visit Avian Aqua Miser for details). Additional supplies you’ll need include a second bucket, a 3-foot pipe-heating cable (aka heat tape, usually about $25) and duct tape. (Note: This project may not conform to the safety instructions provided by some heat tape manufacturers. — MOTHER EARTH NEWS)
First, cut the bottom off of your extra bucket by starting your hole with the drill, then make your cut with the jigsaw. Remove the handle. Starting from the bottom edge of the bottomless bucket, use a coping saw to make a small slit about 3 inches up the side, then set aside the modified bucket.
Wrap the heat tape around the outside of the unmodified bucket near the bottom, using duct tape to hold it in place. Then push the bottomless bucket onto the bucket waterer, letting the heat tape’s cord feed out of the slit. The bottomless bucket should extend a few inches beyond the bottom of the original bucket waterer.
A last, optional step is to wrap chicken-friendly insulation (such as Reflectix, a foil-backed bubble wrap insulation) around the sides and top of the bucket. Here in Zone 6, the resulting waterer provides frost-free hydration for our flock all winter long. For more information, you can visit our website (given above) and click on “Heated Waterers.”