This year I decided to purchase heated water bases to use under my two gallon galvanized waterers. Winter is long in Minnesota and its important to have a reliable source of heat to keep the water open for your silkies.
In the past I have tried many different ways to keep their water from freezing. First, I used heat lamps positioned directly over plastic waterers. I used this method for many years. It worked well, but it was very expensive. It costs 90 cents a day to keep a 250 Watt bulb running. I have a total of eight watering stations which would cost me $7.20 a day if I still used this method. I was also worried about fire using all of those heat lamps around the pine bedding.
The next idea I tried involved using flat bird bath de-icers. They are the ones that are flat and covered with foil. They lay between the waterer and a metal base. The base is the kind you would use for catching oil under a car – also called an automotive drain pan. I also used a thermostatic outlet with it that only came on when the temps dipped below 32 degrees and then turned off when it got above 35 degrees.
The cords coming from the bird bath de-icers were not very good and after a year of using them, began to look burned. The cord was becoming too hot for my liking and once again I was afraid of starting a fire. This is what can happen when using something not in the way a manufacturer designed it for.
After more research, I decided to give the heated water bases a try. What I like the most about them is that the cord is very strong and well protected. The base sits in the pine shavings but I don’t have to worry about it getting too hot. It was made specifically for this use which ,then, lowers my worry level.
The base keeps the water very warm – almost too warm to my way of thinking. I found that the birds spilled or dribbled water when they drank, causing the bedding to become wet around it. I ended up using pizza circle tins between the base heater and the waterer to catch the spills.
The silkies do not burn themselves on these bases. In fact, they like to hop on top of it when I am changing out the water. The top is warm but not hot. The heated water in the waterer also helps to warm the surrounding area in your coop when it is cold out.
You can make them much cheaper yourself and there are many You-Tube videos on how to do this, but the price is worth my peace of mind knowing that the water will not freeze nor will it set the coop on fire. These heated bases are not designed for outdoor use so they need to be kept inside of the coop. They should not be used with plastic waterers.
The base will automatically kick on when the temperature drops below 35 degrees. This is a nice feature when you didn’t expect cold weather in the middle of the night or if you don’t want to waste electricity (money) by having them run all the time when the water is not going to freeze.
The cost to run these base heaters ends up being around 45 cents a day. They are 125 Watts. I make sure that I turn mine off if the temp is above freezing in the coop. I would also not leave them out all year round. Put them safely away when the cold weather is done as you don’t want them to rust. You will want to be able to use them for many winters to come. This winter is not over yet, but so far I am really enjoying using these heated water bases.