One of the most dreaded farm chores for everyone is breaking ice in waterers. It’s cold, messy and tough! However, drinking water during freezing temperatures is extremely important for animals, because their bodies burn extra calories trying to stay warm.
Water consumption is directly linked to food consumption. If they are not drinking enough, they will not eat enough to stay healthy.
Water deicers are a great way to ensure the water stays fresh and available for animals. Commercially available deicers for chickens cost upwards of $60, a pretty hefty price tag for items you likely need in multiples.
Luckily, you can make your own chicken water deicer for a fraction of the cost. Follow these very simple steps to make your own deicer for less around $17.
- Cinder block ($2.30)
- 40-watt bulb ($3)
- Heat lamp ($12 at time of writing from Tractor Supply Company)
- Find a safe base area. Do not build the deicer on straw, hay, bedding or cardboard. Find a spot in your coop that is solid dirt or concrete, or lay a piece of sheet metal down and build on top.
- Place the cinder block in the center of your working area.
- Chisel a groove in the top of the block to lay the heating lamp cord flat.
- Prepare the heating lamp. Remove sheathing and clamps. Place the 40w bulb in the bulb holder.
- Place the bulb in the groove of the cinder block, dangling towards the ground.
- Place the chicken waterer (at least 1 gallon) on top of the cinder block.
Using a 40-watt bulb ensures the water will not absorb too much heat. The goal is to keep water above 32 degrees, which does not require the same wattage as standard heat lamps. Animals really want their water to stay around 40-50 degrees for drinking.
The cinder block acts as an oven to intensify the heat in your chicken water deicer.
As with any use of electrical components in coops and barns, you will want to check on the deicer multiple times during the day. It’s important to keep an eye on such factors as weather elements and chicken behaviors (you don’t want them to knock it over). Also check to make sure the deicer is working so your birds are still able to drink.
Snow does not suffice for water. Many people believe animals will consume snow in lieu of water. But the amount of snow consumption needed to equal out water is very high.
In addition, snow is cold enough to lower animal body temperatures, which is something you definitely do not want to do. Simply put, do not rely on snow as the animals’ watering source during inclement weather.