Easy DIY Chicken Water Heater For Winter For Under $10

If you live anywhere where it freezes in the winter you’ve run into the problem of how to keep your chicken water from freezing. Enter the chicken water heater, but a quick search online produces some pretty expensive results. So how do you DIY your way through a chicken water heater for winter? We’re going to teach you how to do exactly that! Say goodbye to frozen waterers and trying to thaw the ice with warm water. 

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Chickens in the snow and a chicken waterer | How to DIY a chicken water heater for under 10 to keep your waterers from freezing this winter

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DIY Chicken Water Heater

My least favorite chore in the winter has to be thawing the waters- I can’t tell you how many I’ve broken over the years trying to pry them apart so I can get hot water inside to melt all the ice. Fun is the last word I’d use to describe it, and because I’m me I usually end up soaking wet from spilling the water or it bouncing back at me.

So when I came to Mr. Cottage with my problem- ahem! I mean got sick and my problems became Mr. Cottage’s problems- and being an engineer (and sick of lugging buckets down the hill to the coop) he had to solve this problem and fast. Of course, our local farm supply stores were sold out of chicken water heaters. So after some quick searching of Google and Pinterest, he decided to give this simple cookie tin chicken water heater a try. 

How To Water Chickens In The Winter

Chickens can’t hydrate themselves from snow or ice, so they need a constant supply of water to keep them healthy and happy in the winter. Unfortunately in the winter the waterer or bucket will freeze solid in just a couple of hours, so you have to deliver hot water to your coop several times a day. When your coop and house aren’t near each other this can be an even bigger inconvenience.

Tips For Keeping Your Chicken Water Unfrozen

There are a couple of really easy ways to help keep your chicken waters from freezing in the winter including:

  • Heated Water bases – these work like the cookie tin water heater that we’re going to teach you how to make. I wouldn’t use this near bedding or inside a barn or coop but out in the run. 
  • Using large, deep rubber tubs – rubber doesn’t freeze as metal that gets cold, it also offers a wider surface area so it’s harder to freeze.
  • Tossing a couple of ping pong balls in the top – The slightest breeze will stir the ping pong balls and prevent ice from forming.
  • Cookie tin water heaters – just like the heated water bases, this provides heat from below to keep your chicken waters from freezing. You Can use this with a bucket or waterer. I wouldn’t use this inside a barn, or coop but out in the run away from bedding. 

How To Build A DIY Chicken Water Heater 

A DIY chicken water heater is so easy to make you won’t believe it, plus they can be made for WAY less than the ones you find online. With just a handful of supplies, you and a bit of time your chicken waterers will be ready for winter. 

Supplies To Build A DIY Chicken Water Heater

For this DIY Chicken Water Heater you’ll need:

  • 10″ Metal Cookie Tin (you can find them at most thrift stores or even dollar stores)
  • Light Socket or Lamp Assembly Kit (you can get this at a hardware store, online, or pick up an old light at a thrift store for cheap and take it apart)
  • 12 Gauge 3 Conductor SO Cord (you can get it at a hardware store)
  • 40 Watt Incandescent Light Bulb (use a 60 Watt in deep-freezing conditions)
  • Battery operated or electric drill
  • 3/8th Drill Bit
  • Screwdriver

Building A DIY Chicken Water Heater Tutorial

Drill a hole into the side of your cookie tin with your drill bit (you may want to use a piece of tape over the spot you intend to drill for a cleaner finish.

Feed the SO Cord through the hole into the inside of your cookie tin. 

Wire the plug to your light socket by attaching the green wire to the green screw on the bottom of the light socket. Gently wrap it around the screw and screw in with a screwdriver. This is your ground wire. Next, attach your black (hot) wire to the brass screw the same way. Finally, attach the white (neutral) wire to the silver screw in the same method. ALWAYS READ THE DIRECTIONS THAT COME WITH YOUR LIGHT SOCKET. 

Place the light bulb in the light bulb socket and screw in until finger tight. 

Place the lid on top of your new DIY chicken water heater, plug it in, and place your water on top. 

And that’s it! It’s really that simple to build your own DIY chicken water heater. 



How To Use A Chicken Water Heater

Pull out your chicken water heater when you are worried about your waterers freezing in the winter and plug it in. If you don’t have an electrical outlet in your coop, run an extension cord out to your chicken coop and plug it in that way. Place your chicken water heater on a flat dry spot in your chicken run and place your chicken waterer on top. 

Winter Chicken Care

In the winter your chickens will need a little more to keep them happy and healthy, like ensuring that they have plenty of water on those freezing cold days. Need some more winter chicken care help? Check out the article we did on how to prepare your coop for winter!

Have a question or comment about this DIY chicken water heater? Drop them in the comments!


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