If you live in a colder climate area and have chickens, you might be trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to keep their water thawed and fresh throughout the winter. No Problem! Here’s a proven trick that requires NO Electricity!
We’ve had chickens for years, in Maine (where the temps reached -15°F at times, and in the North woods of Wisconsin where temps plummeted to -40°F. While we absolutely love fresh eggs, it probably wouldn’t be cost-effective for us if we had to pay a constant electricity bill from running heat lamps in the coop throughout the entire winter.
How to Keep Your Chickens Water from Freezing
Like all of Life’s great lessons, We learned this trick the hard way. For the first couple years of having our chickens, I would dutifully head to the coop in the early mornings, collect the eggs and leave a fresh 5 gallon waterer filled for them. Around lunchtime, I’d swap out that waterer with a second can and bring the first inside the entryway to thaw.
Then, later in the evening, I’d return to the coop, collect the watering can and bring it inside to thaw overnight. Quite a process!
Until we discovered a unique trick that actually works like a charm! SALT WATER! Yes, Salt Water! Now, wait a minute, before you go calling PETA because you think we’re poisoning our animals, bear with me, allow me to explain how this works!
First of all, you’ll want to use a decent quality Poultry waterer, preferably gravity fed. You’ll need a water bottle or 2-liter soda bottle. Personally, I’ve found that soda bottles last longer and hold up better than water bottles, but use what you have available.
Add 3/4 cup plain iodized table salt to the bottle, then fill it with warm water. Cap it tightly and shake well to ensure that it’s dissolved, by the way, it won’t dissolve completely, that’s perfect! If you’re using a 2 liter soda bottle use 1 1/2 cups of salt.
Fill your Chicken waterer up, then place the salt water filled bottle INSIDE the poultry waterer. That’s all there is to it!
Why it Works
Salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh water. Colder air draws heat from the fresh water which would normally solidify but the bottle of salt water has a lower freezing point so heat flows from it into the fresh water, keeping it in a liquid state longer.
Again, this doesn’t mean you can just leave the fresh water outside indefinitely If the temps will be below 0°F dump the water out in the evening and bring the salt water bottle inside (they don’t drink overnight anyway!). Then refill the water in the morning and add a bottle of salt water.