Homemade Heated Chicken Waterer

Make this DIY poultry waterer to provide water for your birds all winter, and all you need is a bucket of water and a few other simple tools and supplies.

  • Homemade Heated Chicken Waterer
    This do-it-yourself poultry waterer is easy to make and will make winter watering chores easier.
    Illustration By Nate Skow

  • Homemade Heated Chicken Waterer

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.”

Anna Hess 
Dungannon, Virginia 

1/7/2015 8:58:52 PM

PS - I can do a photo of this one

1/7/2015 8:58:05 PM

I love DIY but can't take credit for this one - was passed on to me by the owner of Fingerlakes Woolen Mill, who raises chickens in addition to processing wool. Fasten a porcelain light fixture (the old-fashioned type that you see hanging from a ceiling) to a square of plywood. Set it in the chicken house and put a piece of ceramic stove pipe tall enough to rise above a light bulb on it. Wire it to a convenient electric source. You are finished! Set your usual waterer on top of the pipe. In most cold weather a 40-watt bulb is sufficient, but in bitter cold a 60-watt does the trick. We have power at our chicken house for the timed light for the layers, so we hooked into that. Bet that is less than $25!

1/22/2014 3:45:57 PM

I like the heating cord idea, but I have done something simpler for my girls in zone 4. 1 Clean Five gallon bucket with top - $5 – free if you have one laying around – like using what I have on hand 3 Poultry water nipples - $.50-.60 ea. 1 submersible bird bath heater - $29-$60 (Search - K&H 9000 Ice Eliminator Bird Bath 50 watt De-icer) 1 Clay pot bottom/pie plate (to catch dripping water if mounted inside the coop) - $4-5 maybe free depending on your sources Cut a hole (or a slit and a hole) in the top of the bucket large enough to squeeze the end of the heater cord through. Drill and tap the nipples into the bottom of the bucket. Suspend the bucket in the coop and run power to the cord. The Heater I purchased only uses 50 watts of power and self regulates the temperature so it is never more than warm to the touch. Only once have I gone out to find the nipples frozen, but it was -10 degrees (-25 wind chill) outside and the inside of the coop was only a balmy 28 degrees. At that point nothing but 120 degree water is going to keep those nipples from freezing. Hope this helps

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