With our cold winters we needed a chicken water heater to stop our DIY chicken waterer to freeze up.   We get weeks of temperatures below freezing and want our chickens to always have access to water – not just when we can take out warm water to unfreeze their buckets.  And so we made this simple device that sits under our chicken waterer and it works perfectly!

The main reason this works so well is that our waterer uses a METAL tray.  I don’t think this will work well with a rubber or plastic tray and would not suggest you even try it as the heat of the lamp could melt the tray causing a dangerous situation.

chicken water heater

These metal trays are cheap – less than $5 from our local farm store.

This project requires a few items.   We had most of these already – but all of them are cheap to buy.  I have added links to all the items below from Amazon…but most things can be bought from local stores. We used:

Five gallon plastic bucket with lid – we get ours used from the local supermarket.  They get frosting in them, then throw them away.  They give them to us…free is perfect!

chicken water heater

A lamp fitting – we bought ours from Walmart.   It cost around $8.  You can find them at all the hardware box stores like this onelamp

A spacer tube – we used an old offcut of plastic water pipe.

Small amount of insulation.  We had some silver coated foam that works a treat as it reflects the heat as well as trapping it in the bucket.

Chicken water heater


DIY Chicken water heater

Step 1.

Cut the bucket off about 8 inches from the lid.  You are keeping the lid end – so the discarded part can be used as a feed tray.   We cut our on our table saw – just set the saw low and do it slow and easy.  Wear safety glasses (you should always) as the plastic chips will fly out as you cut.

Step 2.

Drill a hole half way up the side of the bucket so that you can thread the lamp cord through the side.  The size of the hole is dependent on the type of lamp fitting .  We only needed a small hole.

Step 3.

Thread the cord through the hole, through a spacer (cut this so the globe ends up in the middle of the bucket) and connect to the lamp globe fitting.  Double check all your connections.  Then using a strong glue (we used gorilla glue) glue the spacer and the lamp holder all together to the bucket.

chicken water heater

Add a globe.  Use an incandescent globe  (the old type of globe) as these give off a lot of heat.   We started with a 15 watt globe and then increased it to a 40 watt globe to get the right amount of heat.

Your bucket should now look like this –

chicken water heater

Step 4.

Put insulation around on the inside of the bucket making sure it does not touch the globe anywhere.  You could also add insulation around the outside of the bucket, but you run the risk that the chickens will peck it all off.   The final job is to take off the lid and line it with aluminum foil then put it back on.  The foil reflects the heat upwards.

Chicken water heater

Step 5.

Place your chicken waterer on top of the device.  Turn it on.  Check it to make sure that the lamp is not touching the insulation.   I make it a point of checking ours ever time I fill the water bucket.

Chicken water heater

We plug our chicken water heater into a Thermo-cube which only turns on once the temperature falls below 35 F.   That works a treat – and our chickens have water even on the coldest days and nights.

Chicken water heater

I hope this project is one that you can use on your homestead over winter.

Chicken water heater

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