You may think that feeding, housing and watering your chickens would be as easy as caring for your dog or cat. Unfortunately, that is not the case for most of us. Choosing the correct waterer, coop and feeder can be quite serious business.
When it comes to your chickens, one size does most definitely not fit all. Here are a few tips to give your chickens a fighting start.
What Is A Chicken Waterer
A chicken waterer, also known as a chicken drinker, is a chicken accessory that holds the water your flock requires to live and thrive. As mentioned above, it is not as easy as it sounds to supply your flock with water since chickens tend to be quite destructive at times.
A waterer needs to be superiorly designed to not be easily tipped over. It also needs to keep out dirt and debris from easily being scratched or racked into the waterer. The best waterers cannot be messed or spilled, but still allow easy access to your flock.
How Much Water Do Chickens Need
It is important to know how much water your flock drinks every day to stay happy, healthy and productive. It may appear that your chickens only take a sip here and there but in reality, one hen can drink up to half a litre of water a day. This amount will increase to around a litre on a hot day.
As a responsible chicken keeper, you will need to make sure that there is at least one litre of water available to every bird in our flock. This means that if you have 10 birds, you will need a waterer that holds a minimum of 10 litres.
Your waterer also needs to be strategically placed and checked every day to make sure that the water stays fresh and clean. It is always best to have back up waterers in different locations in case something goes wrong or one of your chickens gets a bit too adventurous and spills the water in the main one.
Different Types Of Chicken Waterers
There are quite a number of different chicken waterer styles available to choose from. The vast number out there of waterers out there can make choosing the perfect one quite a challenge.
Each chicken waterer has its own way of working and style but all of them still try to achieve the same goal. This goal is to give your flock easy access to water while keeping the water clean and inside the waterer. No point in having the water spilled all over the place!
This design is probably the most common chicken waterers among backyard chicken keepers. These waterers are quite cheap and do a good job giving your flock access to freshwater. Spillage is usually minimal and the design keeps debris out relatively well.
You can find this waterer in both plastic and metal and they get their name from their bell-like shape. This waterer needs to be manually filled and is gravity fed. This means that the more your hens’ drink, the more water will flow out to fill the empty space. This style of waterer also allows you to hang it up which further reduces contamination.
- Automatic nipple chicken waterers
This style is increasing in popularity among chicken owners. This waterer is easy to maintain, stays clean and spillage is at a minimum. It is also easy for your chickens to access fresh water.
You can set this system up to get water from a self-contained system like a drum or connect it directly to your main water supply. Your chickens will quickly learn that by pressing on the nipple, a flow of water is produced.
This option is generally a little more expensive but will provide the least effort and maintenance over the long run. If you only have a small flock of 2-3 hens, then this option might be a little too extravagant.
- Bucket, container or trough waterers
These are a simple open container design that allows your flock to dip their beaks into the water from the top to have a long-deserved drink. These waterers are cheap but can be quite a pain to keep clean and hygienic. Bucket, container or trough waterers do not keep out debris and other small mammals or insects from falling in and drowning.
The container needs to have low sides since your chickens need to be able to reach in to get to the water. The low sides can limit the amount of water that the waterer can hold and may not be sufficient for a big flock. This also means that the waterer is constantly messed in or spilled so will need constant rinsing and refilling throughout the day.
The Best Location For Chicken Waterers
Now that you’ve chosen the best waterer for your flock, it is time to look at the placement. The best place you can pick for a waterer is a cool, shady area that is protected from predators and out of the way. This way you can keep your waterer from getting dirty much quicker and keep the water nice and cool and fresh for longer.
It is also a good idea to have another waterer set up in another location in case something happens to the first, or your flock is too big to drink from just one waterer. You can prevent fights over water and unnecessary injuries from occurring and you’ll feel more confident that your hens won’t be stranded without water if they manage to tip the first waterer over.
Now it is time to toss that old piece of Tupperware, ice cream container or other flimsy bowls aside and get a proper waterer for your flock. It is one of the best investments you will make in your chicken keeping career. Now it is time to look at feeders.