How to keep your Chicken Drinkers Ice-Free
The cold winter weather is upon us, bringing with it the battle to keep the chickens' water from freezing. In this episode, Phill shares his best advice for keeping poultry drinkers clean and ice-free.
Today, in AskPhill number 8, Phill gives some hints, tips, suggestions, and precautions to take with drinkers through the winter in freezing cold weather. Here is a precis of the transcript ...
In the winter, especially with more condensation, damp, rain and mud about, you need to take extra precautions to make sure that you disinfect and clean your drinkers regularly. We have several available and a good all round disinfectant is Virkon S in tablet form.
Of course, bearing in mind our previous article about Bird flu precautions, don't forget that you've got to keep your drinkers and feeders undercover, and safe from contamination from wild birds and their droppings. Especially in winter, wild birds go for water as much as they do for food.
In freezing weather, the larger the drinker you can use, the better; simply because the larger body of water will obviously take longer to freeze than a small body of water. However, do bear in mind that large drinkers are heavy and require more space.
If this limits your choice, then maybe you could use two smaller drinkers and keep one in your house and then bring it out to the chickens and swap them over a couple of times a day. Therefore, you can keep an un-frozen, ice free, drinker out there for most of the day.
A practical tip in freezing weather is to use flexible containers. So instead of standard chicken drinkers, you can use little flexible TubTrug troughs, which doesn't stop them freezing but, because you can flex them it’s easy to break the ice. It also means that you're not going to get damaged drinkers.
Now lots of people think that if you put warm water out for your chickens, that is a good idea because it will stop it freezing so quickly. Well, counter intuitively I'm afraid, that's actually wrong. Warm water (not hot, just warm) will freeze faster than cold water. It's called the Mpemba effect.
Another way you can stop the water in your drinkers freezing is to put an additive in it. An old tried and tested one is the liquid Glycerine used in baking. You can put a little in the drinker which lowers the freezing point of the water to say -1 or -2 degrees C.
Then there is good old Apple Cider Vinegar, our stalwart. It's great for the birds, in a 4% or 5% dilution, and it will stop the water freezing until it gets to two or three degrees below freezing.
Those are some practical ideas for the bird’s drinkers to stop them freezing up. Now the other alternative is the ‘high-tech’ solution - a Heated Drinker Plate.
Electric Heater Plates run on low voltage, so you may have to run an extension cable out to your hen house if power is not directly available.
They're not cheap but are quite safe to use and you just stand your drinker on it. Plug it in and that will keep it ice-free for the day.
What I would suggest is that you put it away at night though. Obviously, you're not going to put your drinkers in your chicken house at night because the birds are sleeping tight and not drinking so it isn't necessary.
Those are our Hints and Tips to keep drinkers ice-free, I hope you found them helpful.
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