*Chickens Don’t Eat Ice Pops*
A water heater for small live stock
By: BackDoc
14 July 2009

For those of us who live above the Mason Dickson line, you know it can be difficult to keep fresh water available for livestock during the winter. Here is a inexpensive and easy to make a water heater for a chicken watering fount.

My first attempt was a little crude, but worked well enough., I took a round metal feed pan (about 14”) cut a piece of blue foam to fit over the opening of the bottom of the pan. I placed an extension cord with a bulb adapter and 60 watt bulb on the foam. This worked ok but still needed a couple of refinements. The chickens ate the exposed foam and the bulb melted the foam where it was sitting. I trimmed the foam to just fit into the top of the pan and then covered the foam with foil. I also added a 2 bulb adapter because on really cold nights the water would still freeze. This worked well all last winter but I had to check to make sure bulbs were not burned out. I would only use one bulb except on the coldest nights. The next improvement was to add a thermostatically controlled receptacle to the plug in the chicken house. This looks exactly like one of the rectangular plug adapters that give you 3 additional (3 for one) electrical outlets. This turns off and on at about 40 degrees. This worked very well but when I removed it from the pen in the spring I noticed the light bulb adapters were a little “cooked” and probably would not make it through another winter.

Thermo Cube: Thermostatically Controlled Outlet

My latest version uses ceramic bulb sockets (salvaged from the light fixtures I replaced on the front of my garage) bolted to the side of the pan. An extra hole of about ¼” allows me to see that the bulbs are working. I even added a fray guard to the cord and ran it through the side of the pan instead of under the edge. You must use incandescent bulbs, for the CFL will not work (do not produce heat). With the phasing out of incandescent bulbs, now will be the time to stock up on any bulbs you use as a heat source. My incubators and brooders use bulbs as does the reflector I use around my water pipes in the garage on extremely cold nights. The photo below is a commercial version that runs about $40 and I have less than $10 in mine, probably closer to $5.


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