Chickens with freezing water

It  is Texas and it is December.  We have now had several nights of weather dipping below freezing.  I usually keep their water in the coop 24 hours to help keep it from freezing.  However, a few nights they have had a slushy layer of ice in the lip of the waterer and so I set them out to let the sun warm and defrost them.  I found a company that sells solar chicken waterers, but I don’t want to pay for one.

 http://www.shopthecoop.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=TC&Category_Code=TC&Store_Code=STC

 I may first try sewing an insulated type of weatherproof black heat absorbing cover ( like a quilt)  to go over the bell of the waterer and see if  that helps (kind of like a water heater blanket).

Other hints I have read is just buy twice as many waterers, so you trade out the frozen one with the fresh one.  Take in the frozen one and have it ready to switch out next visit.  I don’t care to run any cords or electricity to keep water warmed.  The chickens also have the option of hopping up on the 5 gal buckets the alpacas drink out of. Water doesn’t freeze as quickly and the chickens are pros at standing on the bucket edge and dipping in.

Also, to keep the mice from taking up residence in the coops, I hang   the  chicken’s water and also their feeder at “beak level” from different hooks from the ceiling.  It keeps the mice out of both.   We have  A-frame coops with exposed studs inside so I just use a sturdy  nail hammered into an upper ceiling stud, or a heavy-duty  hook, positioned so the hanging water or feed will be out of the way of nests, doors and roosts.  A long HEAVY chain with large links hangs from the nail/hook  and it can be adjusted in height by repositioning the chain up or down on the nail/hook (heavy chain to keep them from swinging easily). Then I have a great way of hanging the water or feeder.  An “S” hook can work, but may get knocked out of the link by a flapping excited bird. I use one of the clips below  to slip through the last link and then hook the handle of the feeder or waterer in the clip. Slip the handle out easily  to refill or move the holder.  If you use the quick-link, don’t close the opening all the way, leave a gap open so you lift the handle  through it.

http://www.tractorsupply.com/hardware/chain-rope-accessories/links/quick-link-3-frasl-16-in–3551026

http://www.tractorsupply.com/hardware/chain-rope-accessories/snaps/9-frasl-16-in-interlocking-spring-snap-9-frasl-16-in-opening-3522027

http://www.tractorsupply.com/hardware/chain-rope-accessories/snaps/3-15-frasl-16-in-double-bolt-snap-3550753

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