One of the greatest needs of your chicken is water. Apart from feeding, they need enough water to remain healthy and productive. Inadequate water leads to reduced egg production, therefore, a constant supply of water is essential. Whether your raising backyard chickens or own a huge flock, we have put together an in-depth article to help you make a healthy, hydrated choice!
In different climatic conditions, the average need for water varies; during summer, your chickens will require more water, as they will need it to cool down the heat they feel. It is not uncommon to see some chickens intentionally douse their feathers in water. However, in winter, they generally consume less water due to the reduced environmental temperature.
While you wouldn’t want your chicken to go without water, it can be daunting to continually refill their waterer, especially in the summer, as some of these waterers can be heavy when filled with water. It is also another task to keep the water and waterer clean. This challenge is more pronounced in some types of chicken waterers and eliminated in others.
Therefore, let’s have a look at the types of chicken waterers there are, and see if they fit your flock.
Types of Chicken Waterers
The different types of chicken waters have different features that make the provision of water to your chickens easier. Although some of them are basic, others employ some advanced innovations to achieve their purpose.
These types of chicken waterers are the most common. They are usually made of plastic or metal and are either placed on the floor or hung from a rope, tied to a bar. They are easy to use and clean and give your chickens easy access to water, depending on their age and the size of the waterer.
Gravity-fed waterers usually have two parts; a tray at the bottom and a bucket that the trays fit into. For easy cleaning, they are usually separable into their parts. To use them, one has to fill the bucket with water, then fit the tray into the mouth of the bucket. Rest the tray on the floor or hang the bucket by a rope, and the water starts to flow into the dip of the tray by gravitational action.
The downside to this type of waterer is that it requires that you constantly clear the tray of bedding and feed as chickens will kick dirt into it. However, it is impossible to fall over it and the water in the bucket remains clean. Also, it requires infrequent filling.
Automatic waterers work on a different principle compared to gravity-fed waterers. They do not depend on gravity to supply a steady flow of water as gravity-fed waterers do, instead, they have some features in place that make access to water easier for your chickens. They also do well in keeping the water clean and reduce wastage of water.
Automatic waterers usually have a tank or bucket that is filled with water, and nipples or cups into which the water flows for your chickens to drink. The tank usually has a cover that protects the water from dirt, eliminating the need for you to constantly remove dirt from the water.
With automatic chicken waterers, it is easy to conserve water as water only gets in the cup after it has been used up by your chickens, and with the nipple, water doesn’t get to the chickens until they tap the metallic valve.
Container waterers are the basic chicken waterers. They are usually containers; bowls, buckets, or troughs, placed at a corner or in the middle of a chicken run for chickens to drink water from. The containers are filled with water and sometimes, they have clean stones placed in them to prevent them from being toppled by the chickens.
Container waterers are easy to use, especially for new chicken raisers. However, they come with numerous challenges, especially when you have a large flock.
A bully chicken might restrict other chickens from using the drinker, meaning you have to get other containers in the run for other chickens to use. It is also difficult for some chickens to have access to water as the container might be too high for them to reach. Also, when trying to address this issue, you may introduce containers that are low enough for the chickens to have water but that container also gets its content dirtied with bedding and feed easily.
In other cases, chicks may drown in container waterers if clean pebbles and marbles are not placed in them. Also, adult chickens may try to roost on the containers and topple the container emptying its content on the bedding.
Top-fill Chicken Waterers
These types of waterers can be classified as automatic or gravity-fed chicken waterers. They differ from other waterers because they are filled with water from the top. Top-fill waterers are mostly hung from a rope, but can sometimes be placed on the ground for easy access.
They also do have covers that are tight-fitting above the buckets or tanks.
Chicken Nipple Waterer
This is a feature of chicken waterers that helps to efficiently utilize water. It is usually attached to a bucket or tank and releases water to chickens when they strike the silver portion of the feature, causing water to get to their mouth.
What to Consider when buying a Waterer?
Although it is important to keep your chickens hydrated, it is not enough to use any means to achieve that. Different factors go into the right waterer for your flock. That you are raising backyard chickens does not mean they need the least quality waterers or the cheapest waterers you can find.
Here are some of the things you should consider when buying waterers for your flock.
1. Size of your flock
The bigger your flock, the bigger their collective need for water, and the bigger the waterer they need. It might be okay to have one waterer that supplies water to all of your flock, however, you need to consider if the number of chickens that make up your flock will be adequately hydrated by the number of waterers you have.
While a container waterer, that can take 5 litres of water, might be sufficient to provide water to about 5 chickens in a day, the same waterer will be inadequate for ten chickens. Also, an automatic waterer with 4 cups will be insufficient for a flock size of double-digit chickens.
You need to make sure the number of waterers you have, and the size, correlates with the size of your flock. The more chickens you have, the more waterers you need to get. Or in other cases, the bigger the overhead tank the waterer should have.
2. Average size of your chickens
Some types of waterers are not suitable for certain ages and sizes of your chickens. Chicks can conveniently get water from gravity-fed waterers that are placed on the ground, and are specifically made for them, but will find it difficult to use the same type of waterers, made for adult chickens. The chicks may step into the tray and drown in the water.
Also, while adult chickens can drink from chicks’ waterers, the quantity of water it holds will be insufficient to keep them hydrated and it will cause you to do more work, as you will have to continually refill the bucket, throughout the day.
Container waterers may be too high for the chick to reach water and it may be too low for adult chickens that they will easily get bedding into it. Also, your chicken, if raised for meat production, may be bulky enough to easily topple a container waterer if they try to roost on it.
It is, therefore, important that you get a chicken waterer that takes the size of your chicken, in height and weight, into consideration.
3. Available space
If you have much space to spare in your chicken run, you can afford to have as many waterers as your flock might need. However, if you are short on space, it is only logical that you choose a waterer that optimizes the use of space.
Waterer types such as container waterers and gravity-fed waterers tend to take up some space in the run. Some automatic waterers, such as cup waterers, also take up space, depending on the design. Chicken nipple waterers, on the other hand, use up as little space as possible since they have an overhead tank from which water is transported through pipes to the nipples.
4. Climatic condition of your area
It is a given that chickens will drink more water during the summer than in winter. But, have you considered how well your choice of waterer can withstand the harshness of the prevalent weather condition in your area?
Waterers made of plastic are in common use but they cannot protect the water they contain from freezing when winter comes. This does not exempt metal waterers too, as they respond to the temperature of the environment as well. A metallic waterer will heat up faster and make the water it contains hot in the summer.
However, some waterers are specifically designed for use during winter. They automatically begin to heat the water in them up when the temperature begins to approach freezing point, thereby, providing water to your chickens.
5. Time to spare
Do you have enough time to spare to refill your chickens’ waterers? If you do have enough time to spare and you do not mind the work and drudgery that comes with it, you can choose to provide your chickens with simple container waterers to drink from.
However, if your time is so precious that it cannot be wasted on a constant refill of chicken waterers, you should consider getting a waterer that does most of the work, even when you are not there. The best option in such cases is automatic waterers; they save you from having to refill waterer tanks and containers and keep the waterers clean.
While all of the above-listed factors are important, if you do not work within your budget, you may regret it. Therefore, check through the available chicken waterers and choose the one that agrees with most of the factors listed above, and your budget.
Our Top Waterer Choice and Why.
1. OverEZ Automatic Chicken Waterer – has an enormous tank volume that reduces the frequency of refill. It also has three nipple drinking spots for chickens to use. This means better use of water with no waste or dirtying.
2. Farm Innovators HB-60P Heated 2 Gallon Poultry Drinker – promotes water cleanliness and waterer use even in the harshest of winter conditions.
Best Gravity-Fed Chicken Waterer
Little Giant Plastic Dome Waterer
If you need a waterer that does not need multiple refills throughout the day, has great balance on the floor, is durable, and does not depend on electricity to function properly, Little Giant Plastic Dome Waterer is the chicken waterer you need.
Ordinarily, as a chicken rarer, you worry about how to keep your chicken hydrated without having to go through the constant clearing of dirt – from feed and bedding – off their waterer. With this gravity-fed chicken waterer, adequately balanced off the ground three legs, your chickens’ bedding and feed will hardly get in the waterer. You can now have more time to do other things in place of clearing dirt.
Also, the Little Giant Dome Waterer is made of heavy-duty plastic, meaning, it is durable and can be used in different weather conditions, be it in the cold, during the winter, or high temperatures of the summer. It does not crack easily and serves you for a long time, saving you the cost of always purchasing new waterers.
You can easily clean the waterer as it is easy to assemble and dismantle. This affords you the ease of washing its large 60 lbs capacity tank and the individual features, such as the base and saver ring.
- Appropriate for a large chicken flock
- Rugged plastic material that can withstand extreme temperatures
- Ergonomic design for great balance
- Easy to assemble and disassemble for cleaning
- No handle on the hopper for carrying the waterer
- The legs of the waterer might get in the way of chickens that want water
- Not suitable for chicks.
Miller Little Giant 5 Gallon Poultry Waterer
If you are one of the simple chicken-rearers, this might be the chicken waterer that best suits you. The Miller Little Giant 5 Gallon Poultry Waterer is a simple gravity-fed, hanging waterer that is suitable for use in a large flock, provided there are plural numbers of the waterer.
The Miller Little Giant 5 Gallon Waterer provides just 5 gallons of water to your chickens and it does so by letting water down into its base from the hopper through gravitational action. It does not require electricity or any sophistication.
This gravity-fed waterer keeps the water in the tank clean as it is separate from the base.
It is also easy to transport with the aid of its handle. You can easily carry the jar to a tap and fill it with water before returning it to your chickens.
Its rugged plastic makes it suitable for use both outdoors and indoors and helps to make it last longer.
You can easily see the water level through its translucent plastic, telling you when it’s time to refill the tank for your chickens.
- Easy to refill and transport
- Rugged plastic makes it durable
- Easy water level reading due to translucence of plastic
- Suitable for chicks and adult chickens
- Require that you refill the jar in person
- Its content will freeze during winter
Little Giant Hangable Poultry Waterer
The Little Giant Hangable Poultry waterer is a solution to the problem of water spillage and soiling by chickens. It is a gravity-fed chicken waterer that provides water to your chickens through gravitational action.
This chicken waterer is best suited for a small flock that requires a lesser amount of water. Its small hopper (0.45 litres), requires constant refill as soon as chickens have exhausted or almost finished their content.
Despite the size of the hopper and the stress of refilling it now and then, it has a feature on its front that discourages water spilling, and water soiling. This ensures that, to an extent, it has improved efficiency for water use compared to container waterers.
This galvanized chicken waterer can also be hung on a wall as it comes with hooks for this purpose. You do not need to attach a rope to it, just hang it against the wall or fence so that your chickens can reach it.
It is made safe for your chickens by embossing its edges, thereby reducing the chances of injury to your chickens.
- Requires no power for functionality
- Simple and effective design against water spillage
- Easy to mount
- Small tank capacity prompting constant refill
- Only suitable for adult chickens
Best Automatic Chicken Waterer
OverEZ Automatic Chicken Waterer
Another chicken waterer that solves the problem of refilling waterers for your chicken is the OverEZ Automatic Chicken Waterer. It has a large water tank to hold water for your flock, made of easy-to-clean and maintain material, and can be used in different weather conditions.
With a tank that can hold up to 12 gallons of water, you do not have to worry about your chickens running out of water when you’re not there. The size of its tank solves the problem of spending your time on refilling buckets when you should be doing something else, and eliminates the need to clean the tank every day.
Depending on the size of your flock, OverEZ Automatic Chicken Waterer can conveniently water three chickens for a month. The more chickens you have in your flock, the lesser the number of days the water in the tank will last. Regardless, it is a good choice for large flocks.
It has three nipple drinking stations that water three chickens at a time and keeps the water in the tank clean due to its seal that prevents the entry of feed into the tank.
Also, it is made of UV-resistant plastic that makes it suitable for use outdoors, especially in your backyard, with no worry of being degraded by the heat from the sun. It is also free of chemicals present in plastics, such as BPA, making it suitable for the proposed use.
You can easily place the tank on the ground, and eliminate the stress of hanging waterers and bringing them down every time you need to refill or wash them. With this automatic drinker, you spend less time washing since the water is protected from outside influence.
During the cold months, when the water in the tank is likely to get frozen and take hydration away from your chickens, you can use its Power cord to power its circulation pumps and de-icers to discourage freezing.
- Can be used indoors and outdoors
- Easy cleaning and maintenance
- Ensures water cleanliness
- Waters multiple chickens at once
- Suitable for use in different weather conditions
- Requires electricity to be effective in the winter
- Could be inappropriate for less dominant chickens in the flock as they may be bullied off the nipple stations.
Little Giant Float-Controlled Automatic Animal Waterer
This is one step ahead of some automatic chicken waterers. It removes the need to refill the tank and eliminates the possibility of soiling the water in the tank with feed and bedding debris. Although it holds small amounts of water that will need refilling if it weren’t automatic, there’s no need for that.
The Little Giant Float-controlled Automatic Animal Waterer has a 4-gallon capacity tank that holds some water for your chickens. Considering the size of the tank, one would think it will need a constant refill. Yes, it does but not by you. The waterer has a float-controlled system like there is in the hopper of your WC at home. It automatically refills itself when the float drops below a level as controlled by the level of water.
It is also equipped with a standard hose that can be connected to other automatic outlets, such as cups and nipples.
The tank can be easily mounted against a wall or fence with its metal brackets, moving it out of reach for chickens to drink directly from.
- Automatic refill feature
- Keeps the water in the tank clean
- Encourages efficient use of water by the chickens
- Suitable for chicks’ use
- Gets damaged by UV rays from the sun over time
- Chickens may roost on it, causing more cleaning worries.
- Has no cover.
Best Top-Fill Chicken Waterer
Harris Farms Poultry Drinker
While many chicken waterers will pass as top-fill, only a few will pass as the best, and for simplicity and its ease of use, the Harris Farms Poultry Drinker is our best Top-fill Chicken waterer. It epitomizes the term, “easy to use”, and is suitable for every chicken age and size.
Harris Farms Poultry Drinker is effective in keeping dirt away from the water in the bucket, into which the base fits snugly. Chickens can easily access the water that flows into the deep parts of the base, and if they pollute it with feed and beddings, the dirt cannot reach the water in the bucket.
Although you have to continually refill the bucket, since it has a capacity of 3.5 and 6.25 gallons, depending on your choice and the size of your flock, it is easy to carry due to the presence of a sturdy handle that carries the weight. It is also easy to fill as the top lid can be easily removed.
The simplicity of this drinker makes it easy to clean since it takes little time to disassemble the parts and assemble them after washing.
- Easy to use and clean
- Prevents dirt from entering the bucket
- Suitable for outdoor and indoor use
- Suitable for all ages of chicken
- Requires constant refill for a relatively large flock
- May freeze when used outdoor during winter
Best Chicken Nipple Waterer
Premier Heated Poultry Waterer
A chicken waterer that limits water wastage eliminates water dirtying, and is usable even during the winter is one of the best poultry equipment a chicken rarer can hope for, and that is what the Premier Heated Poultry Waterer provides.
It is a plastic tank-type of drinker, fitted with nipples to allow chickens access to water whenever they need it. It is made to be hung or placed on a raised platform that is not too high for the chicken to reach.
The Premier Heated Poultry Waterer is suitable for use during winter due to the presence of a thermostat in the bucket, used to increase the temperature of the water in the bucket, when the electrical cord is plugged into a functional power source. It removes the stress that comes with constantly removing frozen water from the waterers and replacing them with new water, with the hope that your chickens will get some before it freezes again.
The bucket keeps its content clean due to the interlock cover it has on top of it. The cover slides securely into grooves made on the edge of the bucket. This makes it easy to hang the bucket with a rope for easy access by your chickens.
However, you will have to constantly refill the bucket if you have a large flock as it is only a 3 gallons capacity bucket.
- Interlock cover for stronger security and hoisting
- Thermostat for heating water during winter
- Suitable for a fairly large flock
- Efficient water usage due to the presence of nipples
- Eliminates water dirtying by chicken feed and bedding
- Electrical cord can cause shock
- Lesser dominant chicken may have inadequate access to water
- Chickens may roost on the waterer, causing more cleaning work.
Best Chicken Waterer for Winter
Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base
Sometimes, it costs more than you’re willing to spend to get that waterer you know your flock needs. In certain weather conditions, you wish you could give them a better waterer to help them cope better, but the cost isn’t always so friendly.
Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base is an answer to the question, “how do I help my chickens cope better during winter?” It is compatible with both plastic and metal drinkers, meaning you do not have to throw out your old drinkers for recycling just yet.
This chicken waterer add-on has a thermostat that heats up when the temperature in the bucket above it is approaching 10°F, preventing it from freezing. It does not heat the water to a point that it is undrinkable for your chickens. It only supplies enough heat to keep freezing at bay.
- Compatible with plastic and metal drinkers
- Heating is controlled by a thermostat
- Helps your chicken cope better with winter
- Useless when there is no electricity
- May not be usable in some outdoor conditions
Best Heated Chicken Waterer
Farm Innovators HB-60P Heated 2 Gallon Poultry Drinker
You don’t have to watch your chickens get inadequate water because their water has consistently frozen in their buckets during winter. Your efforts in trying to abate this condition can be made easy by purchasing a waterer that heats the water up and discourages it from freezing.
Farm Innovators HB-60P poultry drinker is one of the many heated chicken drinkers available, but it surpasses others because of its adaptability. While many heated chicken waterers are only concerned about preventing water in the buckets from freezing, it also makes sure the unfrozen water is easily accessible by the chickens.
It is available in a 2-gallon bucket size that is covered at the top by a strong lid.
It is also easy to transport as it possesses a strong handle that can handle the weight of the bucket when filled with water. The waterer can also be suspended with a rope to a level that the chickens can access the nipples on the bucket.
- Heats water in waterer to prevent freezing during winter
- Easy to handle
- Keeps water in the bucket clean
- Refill is easy
- Requires constant refill, especially for a fairly large flock
- Some chickens may not get adequate water
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Water Do Chickens Need to Drink Each Day?
The amount of water that chickens need may vary from day to day, depending on some factors. One of these factors is responsible for the difference in daily water consumption, while the other factors determine the potential of water consumption.
Temperature is a huge determinant of how much water your chicken consumes in a day as on a hot day, they will require more water than a cold day.
Another factor is how much feed they consume. The more feed your chickens consume, the more water they will drink. As a general rule of thumb, chickens consume about 2 times more water than the feed they consume.
Also, the type of chicken also determines how much water they consume as broilers generally consume more water than layers due to their increased body weight and fat.
Age is another factor, as older chickens tend to consume more water than the younger ones.
How do I Keep My Chickens’ Water Clean?
The obvious answer to this question is to regularly clean your chickens’ waterers. However, the more pertinent question is, “how do you keep the waterers clean?”
Apart from washing your chickens’ waterers with soap and mild disinfectant, there are products that help to keep bacterial growth in the water tank or bucket at bay. They discourage the formation of films on water surfaces and do not react with the materials used as waterers.
One of such products is Manna Pro All Natural Water Protector. The other, with the same effect, is Carefree Enzymes Protector.
How Do You Keep Chickens from Roosting on a Waterer?
Chickens love to roost on any available horizontal surface. However, it is not a good sight to see them litter their feeder and waterer with poop. There are ways to keep them away from roosting on waterers.
One is to provide perches for them in the run or cage. Make them have numerous horizontal bars. That gives them different options for places to roost and reduces their presence on the waterer.
You can also use squirrel baffles that are dome-shaped, hanging over the waterers. When they are unable to balance on it, they abandon it for the perches you have provided.
Chicken waterers are important equipment in chicken rearing, and they are available in different forms and functionalities. It is important that you choose the best watering option for your flock as per their housing style, their size, and age, among others.
Consider the climate of your area, and choose a waterer that provides respite from the harshness of the weather to your flock.