Insulated Watering Place for Chicken




About: Mostly harmless

I live in northern Sweden and we have some very harsh winters here.
i have 17 chicken which are thirsty even if it's -30°C cold.

Obviously i have to heat up the drinking water to prevent it from freezing.
there are different ways to do that, heating plates or in my case a heating cable.

To prevent heat-loss i decided to build an insulated drinking place, to make sure the heat stays where i want it :)
- also as an energysaver of course!

My design works really well, is inexpensive and easy-build.
It prevents the water from freezing until -10°C without any heating source but all temperatures below that you'll have to start the heater.

I hope that some chicken owners will use this!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gathering Materials

materials you'll need:

- a chicken drinker ( in my case 4 liters) - the simple and cheap ones are the best.
- a big bucket ( the drinker has to fit in it with about 5cm/2 inches) space to all sides.
 if you can find a bucket with straight sides take that one!
 i used a 20liter bucket with a lid
- 1 cartridge of building foam
- aluminumfoil
- strong duct tape

tools you'll need:

-battery drill
-sharp knife
-hole saw ca 7-8cm / 3 inches diameter
-water filled spraybottle
-a file or sanding paper

eventually a heating source
i used a special heating cable that can be situated in water (pictured)
a heating plate fitting underneath the drinker will also work.

add your heating source as the description of the manufacturer allows it.

Step 2: Wrap the Drinker in Foil

Add a "sausage" made of aluminum foil in the water channel of the drinker  - it should be higher than the edge of the channel.
then wrap the whole drinker in aluminum foil and seal the crossings with tape.

Step 3: Insert the Drinker Into the Bucket

this part is hard for me to explain in another language hope you'll get it anyway :)

place the wrapped drinker head first into the bucket  with as much space as possible between the bucketground and the top of the drinker (you can use styrofoam pieces as placeholder/spacer)
the hole drinker has to be INSIDE the bucket of course.

Step 4: Building Foam

if you figured out the right position, take the spraybottle and spray the hole bucket and drinker lightly with water ( that helps the building foam to expand).

now you'll have to fill the spaces between drinker and bucket with building foam - make sure that you covered your working area with newspaper - this stuff is very sticky!

first fill the space on the bucket-ground with a small amount of the foam (make sure that yout styrofoamspacers stay in place!)
then insert the drinker and fill the space between the walls.

if all is filled you have to put som weight on the drinker - i used a 5-liter beerbarrel :)

now wait about 24 hours to allow the foam to dry.

Step 5: Trim the Foam

Trim the foam that may overflowed with the sharp knife,

take out the drinker just unwrap the aluminum-foil and take it out.
The foil stays in the bucket - see the pictures!

(- you may have to trim the foam around the water channel, if it's not straight edged)

Step 6: Holes for the Thirsty Chicken

Determine the position of the hole(s) for the chickenheads.
when using a hole saw, the center of the hole needs to be at the top of the water channel
- I hope this is reasonably expressed.

drill a hole from the inside of the bucket  to the outside - slightly above the impression in the foam left by the water channel
- I hope you can follow me

equip the battery drill with the hole-saw and position its centerdrill ( if there's one) in the newly drilled hole ( this time from the OUTSIDE of the bucket!!!)
now saw until you're through the bucket wall - try not to saw through the foam.

now the foam is exposed - trim it with a knife, everything underneath the edge of the drinking channel can stay in place - the more isolation material the better is the result.
see the pictures for explanation.

now clean the sharp edges of the plastic with a file or sanding paper.

Step 7: Tape the Hole!!!

very important:
Tape the hole with duct-tape!

the chicken will eat all isolation material they can find.

Make sure that ALL foam they could reach is covered!

i used clear tape at first but it's not strong enough - so take the strongest textile-duct tape on the market :D

Step 8: Make a Stand Out of the Lid

if your bucket has a lid you may build a stand out of it.

you have to figure it out individually but maybe are my pictures a help.

you can also stuff all possible spaces with insulation material - just make sure that the chicken can't reach it.

Step 9: Open the Bar!

finished and ready to use!

the chicken will  figure it out very quickly.

mine keeps the water unfrozen until -10°C without the heating cable plugged.

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest
    • Maps Challenge

      Maps Challenge

    21 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hey dude! -30 C?! That is high.

    Here in the Japanese Alps we get as cold as -24C. It's my first winter keeping hens.

    Some people say it's not necessary to insulate chicken coop, nor heating lamps and etc. None of them have chickens, so, how do you do?


    3 years ago

    I am actually looking for a way to keep my water thawed for my birds but need a much larger waterer than this. I have a small egg farm here and water around 300 mixed birds. mostly chickens.

    I live in Central Oregon. it will get at least -20 degrees here every winter. and unfortunately the electricity is not reliable and usually goes out at some point. so I need something that wont split if it freezes. if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them!


    3 years ago

    thank you. very informative.


    4 years ago

    Very cool! I may have to try this, considering it doesn't get that cold here, but I think I still need a bit of heat.. Good job on the instructible by the way. :)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The walls are insulated, but i keep the frontdoor open at daytime (unless its minus 20Degrees or below)
    You need good ventilation inside the coop all the time, otherwise the chicken will get sick.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I really appreciate your instructable! We have a coop that is 120 ft (37 meters) away from electricity. This would help reduce the times we would have to dump ice and refill with warm water. Thanks!

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Please add more pics of your pretty biddies! otherwise very nice. What breeds are they?

    And boy are those birds spoiled.  Warm food and and insulated windows.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    yeah they are spoiled :)

    i have mostly brahma-chicken,
    the Big rooster is a mix between brahma and "skånsk blomme" (swedish breed)
    the small one is another swedish breed - hedemora

    also i call 2 golden brakel my own

    god i love my chicken :D - never thought that it would be that way.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The problem with some of the Chicken drinker, is that they work based on a vacuum. So if you drill a hole in the drinker for your heater, doesn't it ruin the vacuum? And then leak all over the place? I prefer gravity fed watering devices like a bucket. Your thoughts?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i drilled a hole in my drinker for the heating cable - but you can easily tighten that up with silicone (lots of it to be sure )

    But if i have to change the heater in the future i will try to get my hands on one of these heating plates.

    Excellent design! I've been trying to figure out a good, simple waterer for several years, since getting my chickens 6 years ago here in Chicago, IL USA, where today it is about 5 deg. F. Good job with the English as well (though in a few places you write "isolation" where I think you mean "insulation".

    For those without chickens yet, or who have them but haven't experienced it, please do make note of the steps concerning sealing off all insulation materials from the birds. He is definitely correct – for some reason, they LOVE to eat it and will whenever the can. I made some window panels for additional insulation out of 2" rigid foam and even with the plasticy coating, they pecked through it and ate quite a lot before I discovered what they were doing. Since then, I've wrapped these panels in thick black garbage bags with the edges wrapped in duct tape (to prevent tearing when they are put in or out.

    Anyway, great idea! I may build one of these soon, and will pass along the link to the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts group.

    1 reply

    i changed the isolation to insulation thanks for mentioning it :)

    I don't know why they love insulation material that much - i guess that's a chicken thing.
    They eat or - at least try to eat - everything, one of my chicks from last year thought my eyeball looked quite yummy - luckily it´s beak wasn't strong enough to cause much damage (the luck is with the stupid) - now i always wear glasses if i want to cuddle :D


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Oh I'm So excited! I'm getting chickens in the spring...Northern Alberta, Canada (It was -35degrees last week!) This will rock!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    enough time to build one :)
    trust me it's way easier if you don't have to change water all few hours.
    If you have the choice, try an heating plate instead of a cable - i think it's easier to change / fill the drinker.

    greetings to Canada :)