The best policy for keeping your flock hydrated is to make sure they never run out of water. This mantra is as true for freshly hatched chicks as it is for fully grown hens. So long as water is available, chickens will drink water whenever their body needs it.
Each of your chickens will drink between 1 and 2 cups of water per day. And, they tend to drink in small amounts throughout the day as opposed to all of it in one visit to your waterer to stay hydrated.
Some people get away with using small buckets or dishes for providing water, but we recommend purchasing a waterer specifically designed for chickens. It is a bit self-serving for a retailer to suggest making a purchase instead of using something as commonplace as a dish. But, we sincerely believe there are significant benefits that chicken waterers offer. Good waterers will:
- Limit water spills that waste water and increase risk of bacteria growth
- Prevent chickens from roosting above and contaminating water with droppings
- Clean and sanitize easily
- Refill easily
DIY Chicken Coops offers the following waterers:
Our double-walled galvanized waterers keep water cool in the summer. Our heavy-duty plastic hanging waterers preserve flavor of your water and are easy to clean.
Based on your flock size, you will need different sized waterers. We recommend using multiple watering stations so that chickens at all places in the pecking order are able to get sufficient hydration. The need for multiple stations is increased if you have multiple roosters, because they are not fond of sharing with each other. Waterers come in the following sizes:
- Chick Waterers: 1 Quart – 1 Gallon
- Hanging Waterers: 2 – 8 Gallons
- Ground Waterers: 2 – 5 Gallons
- Heated Waterers: 3 Gallons
Temperature of the water your serve your hens is an important consideration. In the hot months, try to keep your waterers in the shade so the water doesn’t get too warm. And, in the cold months, it’s critical the water doesn’t get too cold.
You have two basic options to ensure your water doesn’t freeze in the winter. The first is to put warm (not hot) tap water out several times a day for your flock. Warm water won’t freeze right away, and by repeating this process throughout the day, you ensure your chickens have water when they want it.
The second approach to keeping your water warm in cold months is to use a heated waterer. DIY Chicken Coops offers heated waterer bases for $59.95 which go underneath traditional waterers to keep them warm as well as a 3 Gallon hanging heated waterer that has an integrated heating system for $39.95.
Another way to ensure your flock has continuous access to water to stay hydrated is to consider an automatic watering system. These systems save you a ton of time because you never need to refill a waterer again. And, they are not as expensive as you might think. We offer an adult chicken automatic waterer for $29.95 and an automatic chick waterer for $24.95.
If using automatic watering systems in a pasture, you often need to use a large bucket and gravity to keep your water flow available to your waterer. In this circumstance, the color of the bucket you select makes a difference. Here are a few tips that you may not have considered to keep your flock hydrated:
- Do not use black buckets; they will absorb sunlight and overheat you water supply
- Do not use yellow or blue buckets; they attract insects which die, clog and contaminate your water
- Only use white buckets!
One final piece of advice is to reduce and ideally eliminate water sources other than those that you offer your flock. That is, try to avoid leaky faucets, puddles in the ground and any other source of hydration that may be contaminated by the time your flock arrives to drink it. Chickens will drink any water they find. And, thanks to their tendency to leave dropping on the ground, water on the ground is not good for them to drink.