One of my Christmas gifts was a ‘kit’ to help keep the water in my chicken water silo from freezing when temperatures drop to the teens and below (F) in the more ‘ventilated’ chicken coop. The heating stone works well in the more enclosed coop and in temperatures above 20°F. However, with the deep cold, even if the heating stone was keeping the water in the tray mostly liquid, the water in the silo was freezing so that it wouldn’t flow down.
The ‘kit’ was a can of expanding spray foam. But, have no fear, it came with the promises of an engineer elf who had other useful scrap parts in his workshop. Specifically, those parts were:
- A five gallon bucket, sawed off at a level that would not quite completely cover the top of the water silo (there needed to be room for the chicken heads to reach the water)
- The handle from the bucket
- Stiff piece of mold-resistant foam
- A couple of bolts
- A piece of one inch diameter PVC pipe was used to make the soon-to-be-repositioned bucket handle more comfortable to grasp.
- I already had a two gallon galvanized metal silo-style chicken water dispenser
The engineer drew a line on the outside of the water silo to mark the level where he wanted to keep the water silo “bucket-free.” The re-sized bucket had a piece of foam cut to fit the bottom (or top, depending on your perspective at this point) of the bucket. His scrap of mold resistant foam was about two inches thick. In retrospect, he says he would have added one more layer of foam there before spraying in the expanding foam. This time around, he just sprayed in some foam before putting the metal water silo in the plastic bucket. The other option would have been to cut more of the bucket away, but more insulation was preferred.
He has used the spray foam before, on other projects, so he knew he wanted me to hold the water silo in place while he sprayed the foam around it. At first, it seemed like there wasn’t quite enough foam to fill the space, but by the next day it had expanded enough that it needed to be trimmed with a knife. The foam was dry by then, so trimming was easy. I hadn’t stood there to hold it the whole time, so the water silo did get slightly tilted from it’s position. It still works, but for the next one, he will clamp it in place while the foam does its thing.
The final step was to attach the handle to the bucket so that I could still easily twist the water silo off and on to add water. He drilled through the inside of the top of the metal silo with a drill bit, but that wasn’t long enough to go all the way up through the layer of foam and the plastic bucket. He didn’t have a drill bit long enough for this, so he found a random rod of metal that was of a diameter that would fit in his drill. He put it through the hole already formed in the metal, then drilled the rest of the way through the layers. After slipping the piece of PVC pipe in place to make the handle grip more comfortable, the metal ends of the old bucket handle were pushed through the drilled holes and bolted to the inside of the metal water silo.
He filled the adapted chicken waterer with water and set it out on the patio to see if it still worked right. Nothing was blocking the water flow and water wasn’t leaking out uncontrollably. One more engineering feat that makes water readily available to my chickens in spite of any deep freezes. We theorize that it should also help keep the water cooler in the summer. Simple, low tech, and fun. I can’t wait to see what sort of kit I get for my birthday!