Chicken Waterers 101: What You Need To Know

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 22 July 2020

Most chicken keeping novices imagine that providing water for their flock is as easy using as filling up an old dish as they would for their cat or dog. However, this is simply not the case. As most chicken keepers will tell you, choosing a chicken waterer is serious business - it is the most crucial part of any living beings diet after all! One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to chicken waterers, so have a read through this guide we have put together to help you make the right choice when it comes to choosing a chicken waterer for your beloved flock.

What is a chicken waterer?

Also known as a chicken drinker, a chicken waterer is essentially the device that holds your flocks water in which they drink from. However, as mentioned above, it is not quite as simple as it sounds, with the chicken waterer needing to be superiorly designed so that it is not easily tipped over by the chickens, which will often make all manner of a mess. As well as being sure dirt and debris can’t be easily raked in, making drinking for your girls a quite difficult and not nearly as refreshing. So the key to a quality grade chicken waterer is - one that is not susceptible to being messed or spilt, while being simple for your feathered friends to drink from.

How much water does my chicken drink?

While on the topic of chicken waterers, it is probably important to know just how much water your girls require to remain happy, healthy and productive little layers. While it may seem like your girls only have a sip here and there, you will be surprised to know that they will drink approximately half a litre of the good stuff a day, and up to 1 litre in warmer weather. So as most chicken keepers will know, it is rule of thumb to keep a litre of water minimum per bird per day, and make sure this is clean and refreshed when needed. It is always best to have a backup chicken waterer available in a different location, just so your girls don’t get caught out should something happen with the other one, such as tip over.

how much water does a chicken drink

If you want to know more about how much water your chickens drink simply click here.

What are the different styles of chicken waterers?

There are quite a number of different chicken waterer styles available, which is why choosing a particular design to suit your flock not such a simple feat. While each chicken waterer varies in their mechanism and style, they are all trying to achieve the same goal-  giving your girls access to fresh water with ease, whilst keeping chances of the vessel being spilt as low as possible.

Sussex chicken drinking from water trough

Bucket, Container or Trough Chicken Waterers

These are just as they are - an open container for your feathered friends to dip their beaks in and take a drink. This option is a very simple and cheap style, and your girls should not have any difficulties drinking from this particular design. In saying this, an open container chicken waterer can be quite a pain to keep clean and hygienic, as debris and even small animals can easily make their way in.  As the birds need to reach in to drink, a deep container with high-sides can become quite difficult to drink from, but if it is too shallow with low sides, they are easily messed and will need to constantly filled up.

Bell Chicken Waterer

These are perhaps the most commonplace chicken waterers among backyard chicken keepers, as they are generally quite cheap and generally do a good job of giving your girls easy access to fresh water, whilst keeping spillage to a minimum. These chicken waterers are available in both plastic and metal, and get their name as they are shaped like a bell, with a rim around the bottom for your chickens to sip from. This style is manually filled and is gravity fed - the more your girls drink, the more will come out. The great thing about this style, is that they can be easily hung up which means contamination is at a minimum.

Backyard chickens drinking from bell waterer

Automatic Nipple Chicken Waterers

This style of chicken waterer is increasing in popularity - it provides ease of access for your girls, require little maintenance, contamination or becoming messed is rare, and waste very little water. These can be set up to get fresh water from self-contained source (such as a drum etc.), or can even be fed by a main water source. Your girls will quickly learn that by pushing on the nipple a flow of water will be produced, then close up again once they are finished. While this option is generally a little more expensive, the limited waste and it’s longevity may just be worth it in the long run. However, if you do only have a small flock of 2-3 hens, this may be a little extravagant for them.

different styles of chicken waterer

Where should I place my chicken waterer?

So now that you have chosen the best chicken waterer for your flock, you may be scratching your head over where exactly to put it. It is best to place your chicken waterer in a cool, shady and protected area in your coop. This will help keep it from getting dirtied and protected from the elements,  and will also keep the water cool, so your girls can have a refreshing drink! As mentioned previously, it is also an idea to have an additional waterer set up elsewhere so your feathered flock are never short of a sip. The Taj Mahal, Penthouse and Mansion chicken coops, all have plenty of space in them to keep your chicken waterer fresh, clean and easy for your girls to access.

So toss that old ice-cream container aside and really consider all of the points above about choosing the right chicken waterer for your flock. It really is one of the best investments you can make to ensure your fabulous little feathered friends stay happy and healthy for a long time to come.

From waterers to feed to pest control, there are plenty of things to consider when becoming a chicken parent. It can be overwhelming when you just want to take eggcellent care of your chooks! Many chicken keepers struggle to handle chicken health or behaviour issues, especially in the first few years of having a flock.

This is why I recommend Chickenpedia to all my readers. They have comprehensive online courses on everything you didn’t know you need to know and then some more! From healthcare to raising baby chicks to feeding and behavior, you’ll find beginner-friendly courses that’ll give you the knowledge and confidence to successfully look after your chickens.

As a member, you will get access to ALL their fantastic courses. No need to wing it, become the ultimate chicken eggspert! Check out Chickenpedia today!

Sources and Further Reading