How To Keep Your Chicken's Water Clean

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 09 September 2014

Backyard chickens need to drink plenty of clean water, but their scratching can easily fling dirt into a low-set waterer

Having clean water in your chickens waterer is essential to their health, just like it is to ours. Without it, you will quickly have some very sick chicks on your hands!

Unfortunately, our chickens aren’t the most careful of creatures when it comes to keeping their own water clean. They can often flick debris, dust and dirt into previously fresh liquid, and sometimes they might accidentally mistake it for the bathroom!

Do I just give my chickens normal tap water?

The general rule is, if it’s safe for you to drink, then it’s safe for your birds as well. Tap water in suburban areas often contains a number of different additives such as fluoride and chlorine - but, these are generally included in such small amounts that it will have no effect on your chickens. If you are giving your chickens water with fluoride in it, it’s best to up their calcium intake with some shell-grit, as in some cases it can affect bone density.

How often do I need to refill my chicken’s water?

Chickens love their fresh water, and drink more than you’d think - especially if the weather is warm. You have to replace your chickens’ water once or twice a day, so you can be sure the water they have is guaranteed to be fresh.

What to use to supply the water

So how do you give your chickens the clean water that they need without having them fowl it up?

Using a simple plastic tub or container to store your chickens’ water is not advisable - it’s way too easy for them to jump or stumble in and contaminate it. Plus, chickens need to drink quite a large amount of water each day to stay healthy - around ½ a litre per bird. If you’ve got a large flock, that’s quite a lot of water to keep in a tub that’s easy for them to get their beaks into!

Chicken waterers are designed to store a large amount of water (you can buy 2L, 4L and 20L options here). Plus, they give chickens access the water via a thin, walled trough - so there’s less of a chance of debris getting in, or your chickens rolling around in it!

Here are the requirements that your water must have to keep supplying your flock the liquids that they need:

  • A lid or top - otherwise algae will grow in the water.

  • A small opening where the chickens have access to the water, without having enough space to wade around in it!

  • A large volume - the waterer needs to be able to hold litres of water - the size you need depends on your flock. In this case, it’s always best to overestimate the amount of water your chickens will drink.

Check out our chicken waterers which will keep the water fresh and safe for consumption. They come in a range of different volumes, from 2L to 20L - so you’re sure to find one the right size for your flock!

Sources and further reading