Farmcycling Project – Chicken Water Heater

Though the winter is setting in reluctantly, we have had a few cold nights where the chicken’s water iced up.  A quick check at the feed store, Tractor Supply, and Amazon found chicken waterers like this:

Unfortunately, the cost of one of these babies is between $40 and $50.  That’s a lot of chicken feed!  So, to the farm cycling pile I went for inspiration.

Materials I discovered were already on hand: Old cookie tin, incandescent lightbulb, silicone sealer, electrical tape.  I purchased another $4.50-worth: Rubberized light socket ($2.49) and two-pronged plug ($1.99).

Tools required: Tin snips, screw driver, wire strippers, and caulk gun.

How-to is simple: cut a hole in the side of the tin, poke the socket through, caulk it with silicone, and install the plug on the wire ends.  I unintentionally left a bit of room around the hole where light escapes and shines through the silicone, making it easy to tell if it’s on or not.

Even though the store-bought heaters I found were 100 to 125w, I used a 60w bulb because I had one on hand.  It worked like a champ down to 20 degrees last week, but I think a 40w or even 25w would be sufficient.

End result: Same effect at 10% of the price!

EDIT: My wife made an excellent suggestion this morning.  Cookie tins aren’t as common as they once were, but you can find them inexpensively at craft stores (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc).  She noted that they were 60% off this week at Jo-Ann’s Fabric, and since they were in holiday themes you could easily use them to add some decorative cheer to the coop!

28 responses to this post.

  1. This is great. Thanks for sharing. This is my first winter with chickens and I was debating buying one of those expensive heaters… now, I may just follow your lead. Thanks.


    • You’re welcome! I think my wife is starting to wonder if I’m somehow related to Fred Sanford the way I come home with farmcycling “treasures” all the time, but sometimes they pay off! Next possible project: I spied some granite countertop shipping support stands (overbuilt from 2x4s) set out on the curb on my way to work today, and I started thinking they’d make great pasture hayfeeders… We’ll see if they’re still there on the way home.


  2. I do like resourcefulness! Well done for this great ‘invention’ and thanks for stopping by my blog earlier today.


  3. I wanted to say thanks again. I bought the parts today at Home Depot and put together my own water heater. Looks okay, should work great… and saved me 40 bucks!


  4. oh dear. we were amongst the people who went to Tractor Supply for the heater, but I am afraid that it was not really worth the investment. Our girlies will be warm this winter but my husband is not convinced it will last for another. Thanks so much for sharing!!


  5. Who says incandescent bulbs are bad? Congrats on the way to use other parts/recycle!


  6. Thanks! I was inspired by your post to make my own, and just put out some home-made heaters. I ended up buying some hog pans, due to a lack of cookie tins. It was still much less than buying pre-made heaters, and I am confident I can fix them if they break.


    • Awesome. A bonus on the hog pans is that they’ll provide a larger, more stable base, though we haven’t had a problem with ours. If the waterer gets too empty, they can tip it over, but that was the case before as well (we’ve got the entire assembly on top of a cinder block to keep it elevated from the bedding).


  7. My wife made an excellent suggestion (I’ll edit the post with this). Cookie tins aren’t as common as they once were, but you can find them inexpensively at craft stores (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby). She noted that they were 60% off this week at Jo-Ann’s Fabric, and since they were in holiday themes you could use them to add some decorative cheer to the coop!


  8. Hello! Love this idea. I need a heater for my 2nd coop, and was reluctant to buy another heater. This is the perfect solution. Thanks!


  9. Posted by Lynnie on November 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Brilliant! Down here in LA I don’t know that we need a heater – but if we do, I know just the blog post to return to!


  10. Pretty smart. Would work for other animals as well, I believe. Like mini pigs. 🙂


  11. Posted by Brenda on November 24, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Great idea, but for those of us who don’t read directions very well, did you post the DIY on Youtube?


  12. Posted by christa on November 25, 2013 at 1:25 am

    i just made one of these !! i live in northern WI and its COLD hear my birds water has bean froze day after day and i had had enough now i know i wont wake up to mad birds !! and be in a mad scramble to get them fresh water !! and i had every thing i needed in the house to make it !


  13. Posted by clark on November 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Just finished making my water heater out of a cookie tin and an old temp lighting fixture that I have had for years. Looks like the girls will be happy, happy, happy. Thanks for sharing, I really like to make things that are useful and inexpensive.


  14. Posted by LB on December 5, 2013 at 1:22 am

    We did this last year and set it inside a rubber feeding dish from the feed store. That insulator holds in the heat and keeps it away from the dry straw too.


  15. We find cookie tins (and other shapes as well) regularly at thrift stores. Dollar stores sell Christmas cookies in them during the holiday season, the cookies are usually tasty too. 🙂 This was a great post.. thank you!


  16. Posted by christa on December 5, 2013 at 11:24 am

    we hit – 7 over night ! -11 tonight and the birds have nice fresh water !! the heater is grate thank you so much a lice saver !!


  17. Posted by Susan on January 12, 2014 at 8:34 am

    This is a great idea. I found a big cookie tin at Goodwill, $2.


  18. Posted by Sissa on January 18, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Here in NC we have alot of thrift stores. I will be looking today for some!! Usually the cookie tins run about fifty cents ..


  19. Posted by mrs 007husker on November 20, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    I usto use a Mini Crock pot with a bigger pot in it both found in thrift stores abvout 1$ worked well


  20. Posted by Laci on December 12, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    Thank You for this!! gonna make a couple this weekend & You saved me $100. from buying them at the store for $50 each. just want to add that thrift stores ALWAYS have an abundance of cookie tins for super cheap.


  21. Posted by tonya on December 30, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Do you just sit the water bowl on top of this plugged in devise? Thanks for sharing this awesome idea


Please feel free to comment or respond - we may take a bit to get back to you (between feeding animals, mucking stalls, mending fences, and chasing the goats out of the chicken coop again!)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: