Tips for Selecting a Waterer for Chickens


Chickens are fairly easy to take care of. They can be left in a backyard that is safe from predators to forage their own food. However, if we want the best performing chickens, we would want to be attentive to their nutritional needs. This includes adding supplementary feeds to their diet and supplying them with enough freshwater. And as they are quite messy, leaving water in a dish would probably just encourage them to poop in it. Thus, it is ideal that we put much consideration in selecting a waterer for chickens.

Choosing a poultry waterer is not as easy as choosing which dish to use for a food. Apparently, there are a lot of deliberations to make regarding the following:

  • The number of birds in the flock and the size of birds.
  • The size and capacity of the waterer to accommodate the flock and the birds’ sizes.
  • The dimensions of the waterer, whether it will fit our chicken coop.
  • Material of the waterer – whether plastic or metal.
  • Style and design of the material.
  • Water heater that can go along with the waterer during winter.

Water is one of the most essential nutrients that every living creature needs in their diet. Therefore, we should not take watering our chickens lightly. They are low maintenance and can thrive with minimal supervision, but this minimal supervision has its consequences too. Perhaps, this means less production of eggs or the birds easily acquiring diseases. Thus, we should follow this guide in selecting a waterer for chickens to prevent these scenarios from happening.

Flock and Bird Size

Of course, we want all the members of our flock to be able to access the water anytime. Thus, if our flock is quite big in population, we may have to purchase large capacity waterers. In fact, we may need to purchase multiple waterer units to allow simultaneous drinking in larger flocks. For relatively smaller flocks, smaller or less waterer units should be needed. However, bigger units could still work for them if we want less frequent refills and less labor on our part. An extra unit placed in a different location could also work for when the birds get thirsty in the middle of foraging.

Moreover, we should as well consider the bird sizes when selecting a waterer for chickens. Apparently, standard size waterers that are common in the market are intended for standard adult size chickens. In fact, most of them do not accommodate the smaller and younger chicks. The tendency is that these chicks might drown in or that they will find the water difficult to access. Therefore, we should as well consider selecting smaller waterers that are tailored for young chicks.

Waterer Size, Dimensions, and Capacity

The waterer size, dimensions, and capacity have a lot to do with the flock and bird sizes. These variables should highly come together as the primary guidelines in selecting a waterer for chickens. Of course, as mentioned, we want our waterer to accommodate every single bird in our flock. Large sizes and large capacity ones are automatically for large bird populations. However, they could as well work for smaller flocks if we want to cut a significant amount in our labor. Also, the bird sizes should be considered – adult bird size and young chick size.

The dimensions, on one hand, had more to do with occupying space in our yard in our chicken coop. For instance, wide waterers might not get through inside smaller coop doors. Or another thing, the space it occupies might make the coop a bit stuffier, making the chickens uncomfortable.

Material of the Waterer

Basically, there are three materials that are used in making chicken waterers. These are glass, plastic, and metals. Glass ones in jam jar form, in particular, are intended for baby chicks. As soon as they outgrow the glass jar, we should provide them either plastic or metal waterers.

Plastic Waterers

Plastic waterers feature a light weight and comfortable and convenient usage. However, they are typically not the best when it comes to durability and life-span. Apparently, over time, their material typically will wear out. As this happens, we will notice their color starting to fade, as if bleached out. Also, they will start to leak and, eventually, will develop cracks and will break.

There are many types of plastic as it seems, though. For one, there is a strong plastic with a rigid build. This type is prone to cracks during intensely cold temperatures. However, thick plastics that have a more malleable build are fairly rigid.

Metal Waterers

Metal waterers come in galvanized construction. Their advantage over plastic waterers is their durability. Also, they are prettier to look at and only get prettier as they age, unlike the plastic ones. However, they can be quite expensive for us to purchase several at once. But considering the long time they can serve us, it would be a smart investment to select them over plastic.

Waterer Style and Design

There at least for styles that we can choose from when selecting a waterer for chickens. Each of them comes in either galvanized metal construction or in plastic material. Aside from that, they have unique features that are considered pros over the others.

Traditional style

Simply, this style features a water reservoir over a round tray. This style is probably the most inexpensive, among others. However, this requires a significant amount of our labor as we have to fill it up manually. Also, it can get dirty quite easily, which means that we have to clean it regularly and frequently.

Trough style

This style is basically a water reservoir that is attached to the corner or the size of the coop. This style is also among the simpler waterers and is very convenient as well. However, its downside is that it is typically smaller, which means it is only suitable for smaller flocks. In fact, they can work just as well in a quarantine coop or in an injured bird coop.

Nipple style

A nipple waterer primarily features a valve that dispenses water when tapped by the chickens. This style is very convenient, addressing the concern for getting the water dirty or soiled. Also, depending on the reservoir size or capacity, it will need quite less filling frequency. It can also be attached to a pressurized hose for automatic filling and for more convenience on our part.

Watering Cup

This is similar to the nipple waterer; only it has a small cup below the valve. This cup functions by retaining some of the dispensed water. However, this small amount of water is prone to freezing during the winter.

Weather Temperature

One of the chief functions of waterers is to provide relief to chickens during hot weather. However, cold weathers are our concern, especially during winter. Obviously, water can freeze, which means that we might have to install heaters for our chicken waterers. Fortunately, there are available chicken water heaters in the market in two styles – plate and submersible. These two types are important considerations we have to make alongside selecting a waterer for chickens.

  • Plate style – This style goes directly underneath the waterer, looking obviously like a plate. This is more ideal for the traditionally-styled waterers.
  • Submersible style – This one, conversely, is dropped into the water reservoir to heat up the water. 

Related Questions

Where is the ideal location of a chicken waterer?

One of the basic functions of water in our daily lives is to relieve us from the heat of the sun. Obviously, it is the same, even for our chickens. Also, the fact that they are basically outdoors almost the entire day tells us how much they need water. In line with this, as a cooling aid, the water that we provide our chickens should be off from the heat. We should find a shade where the waterer cannot be hit by the sun so that the water is kept cool.

Moreover, it is important as well that we place the waterer somewhere safe from poop and dirt. We can place it on a block or on a chick stand to provide it some sort of elevation. With this, the chickens are less likely to trash it even when they are scratching near it.

How much water do chickens drink?

It seems that chickens do not really drink much water in the course of a day. They actually look just as they sip water little by little once in a while. However, despite what it may seem, chickens actually do drink water more than we know. In fact, they can consume over half a liter of water on the usual days. And during hot days, each chicken can consume up to one liter in a day. Therefore, we should make it a point to calculate at least one liter of water daily for every bird. This information is also helpful when we go shopping or selecting a waterer for chickens.

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