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Which drinkers for cold weather?

PUBLISHED: 17:58 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 21:07 29 April 2014

I find that defrosting galvanised drinkers is very hard work and can damage the metal. Some of the commercial plastic drinkers seem to go brittle in the frost and are quite expensive. Are there alternatives?

Q - I find that defrosting galvanised drinkers is very hard work and can damage the metal. Some of the commercial plastic drinkers seem to go brittle in the frost and are quite expensive. Are there alternatives?

Malcolm Elkson, via email


A - Getting ice out of galvanised drinkers, even by using hot water from a watering can, can indeed damage them; they can subsequently leak the zinc coating in to the water and poison the birds. One method is to empty the drinkers in the evening, then put fresh water in them in the morning. Commercial plastic drinkers can indeed go brittle and, I must say that I abandon all of these in frosty weather and resort to cheap washing-up bowls – these are made of flexible and tough plastic and have slightly angled sides so that ice easily slides out with a tap to the base, but do not be tempted to use a boot as they will eventually break.


It is very important for birds to have drinkable water every day and new chicken keepers can sometimes not realise that ice is a problem, leading to health issues for their birds. Snow is useful for showing vermin tracks, however.

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