Most first-time chicken keepers imagine that keeping their flock’s water clean is an easy feat. Most imagine it to be as easy as filling up an old dish or bucket like you would for the household dog or cat. However, you are in for a rude awakening.
Most chicken keepers will tell you that choosing a chicken waterer is serious business. Water is a must-have to live after all. You will quickly learn that one size does most definitely not fit all chickens. To help you out, we have put together a guide so you can make the right choice from the start.
What Is A Chicken Waterer?
Chicken waterers, also known as chicken drinkers, is an essential device that holds your flock’s water while keeping it cool and clean. Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple to set up a chicken waterer as it sounds. Chicken waterers need to be of a superior design so that they don’t tip over easily or become soiled too quickly.
Chickens make all kinds of messes so your waterer needs to be designed in a way that dirt and debris cannot be scratched into it, but still allow your flock easy access to fresh, clean water. This means what you will be looking for in a chicken waterer is that it is difficult for your chickens to spill it or mess in it while still giving them easy access to drink.
How much water is enough for a chicken?
It is best if you know how much water a chicken drinks per day to make sure you get a big enough waterer for your entire flock. Having more than one waterer is also not a bad idea. It may seem that your girls just take a sip here and there during the day, you will be absolutely shocked to know how much they really drink.
A chicken will usually drink around half a litre of water a day depending on the weather. On very hot days a chicken may drink up to a litre of water a day. For this reason, it is best to have at least one litre of water available per chicken every day.
More is always better since accidents like spilling do happen. You also need to make sure that the water is clean and fresh every day. It is always best to have backup waterers just in case your chickens manage to knock the main waterer over or soil it completely.
Different Styles Of Chicken Waterers
There are quite a number of different designs when it comes to chicken waterers. All of them work differently making your choice so much harder. Despite all the different ways chicken waterers are designed, they all have the same goal. This goal is to give your girls access to fresh water while keeping the water clean and inside the waterer.
- Bucket, Container or Trough Chicken Waterers
This type of waterer is quite simple. It is simply an open container that allows your hens to dip in their beaks for a drink. It is a cheap option and your hens should have no difficulties using this type of waterer.
On the other side, they can be quite a pain to keep clean. Debris and even small animals easily find their way into the water making it undrinkable. It can also become a problem if the water level drops.
When your chickens need to reach into the container, it can become quite difficult to drink. When the sides are too low, you have the problem of water getting soiled and will need to replace it several times a day.
Bell waterers are one of the most common chicken waterers among chicken keepers. They are usually quite cheap and normally do a good job of giving your flock access to water while keeping the water clean and from spilling.
Bell chicken waterers are available in both plastic and metal versions and get their name from their bell-like shape. This waterer needs to be manually filled and is gravity fed. The more your hens’ drink, the more water will come out to fill the rim. This style of waterer can be hung up to keep soil and other debris from getting into the water.
- Automatic Nipple Chicken Waterers
This type of chicken waterer is starting to become increasingly popular for chicken keepers with big flocks. They provide easy access to water, require almost no maintenance, contamination is very rare and the mess is kept to a minimum. This type of waterer can be set up from a self-contained source like a big drum or can be fed directly from the main water source.
There is a little learning involved when you first set up automatic nipple drinkers, but your girls should figure it out quite quickly. This option is more on the expensive side, so if you have a small flock, one of the other options might work better for you. It does however limit waste and in the long run, needs very little of your time making it worth it.
Where To Place Your Chicken Waterer
Once you’ve chosen a waterer for your flock, you need to start thinking about placement. It is always best to place your waterer in a cool, shady location where it is easy to access and safe from extreme temperature changes.
This will help to keep the water fresh for longer and the water will stay refreshingly cool. It is also a good idea to have a second or even third water around just in case the one waterer is too crowded, get spilled or even soiled beyond a usable means.
Now that you understand a bit more about waterers, you will understand why it’s not that simple just to choose one. A chicken waterer is one of the best investments you will ever make if you want to save some time on labour. It will benefit your chickens and yourself.