Chicken Keeping: Chicken Water

Chickens require a lot of fresh water and must have access to it at all times since they sip small amounts all throughout the day.   Under normal conditions your flock will drink about twice as much as it eats daily. Chickens are also a bit particular about their water - it can't be too warm or strongly flavored or they won't drink it.  If you add any supplementation to the water, it's a good idea for the first time you do so to check frequently to make sure they are drinking it.

Always provide your flock water from a clean, reliable source.  It must be replenished regularly since it's

responsible for many functions including the digestive process, to regulate body temperature and to allow nutrients to move through the body.  In addition to the water being replenished regularly, the waterer(s) must be cleaned at least weekly to help prevent diseases being spread through it. 

Choosing Waterers
A good waterer is designed so the chickens can't step in it or roost on it, keeping it clean from droppings.  Conventional waterers can be found at your local feed store, and are available in either plastic or metal.  They also come in a few different sizes. 

When choosing, keep in mind the size of your flock and also, how far you'll have to carry the waterer each time you refill it and/or clean it.  It may make more sense to opt for 2 medium size waterers as opposed to one very large waterer depending on your situation and your flock size.  We've chosen to have more than one because the chickens at the top of the pecking order, from time to time, will try to prevent those at the bottom of the pecking order from drinking.  With additional waterers, this doesn't seem to be an issue.

Regardless of which type of waterer you choose, make sure to set it on a level surface to prevent water from slowly dripping out.  The height of the drinking trough should be about the height of the smallest chickens back.  This will allow all to have full access.

Seasonal Considerations
Winter:  If you live where water will freeze, you will have to figure out a process for keeping it thawed.  If you have electricity in your coop, there are electrical warming devices that sit under waterers and keep them warm enough to prevent freezing. 

Another option, if you can do it, is to replace the water twice a day.  Keeping the waterers away from direct drafts will help keep them from freezing.

Summer:  As I mentioned earlier, chickens are particular about water temperature.  In order to keep the water cooler, keep the waterers in shade during hot summer days and switch out their warm water with cool water one to two times per day.

Keeping these few things in mind will help you have a healthy, happy flock!

Additional Chicken-Keeping Posts:Using Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Health
Chicken Water
Chicken Coop 101:  13 Lessons We Learned Building Our Coop
The Chicken Coop at Cobble Hill Farm
All You Need To Know About Chicken Roosts
All You Need To Know About Nesting Boxes


  1. Last summer we tried chicken nipple waterers for the first time. They were awesome! Most of the chicks had them figured out in seconds. The water didn't get dirty, never got tipped over and was never pooped in. I don't know what you would do to keep them from freezing in winter though. Our birds being seasonal(we raise meat chickens) I haven't had to figure that out. Great article!

  2. Good to know. I don't know how I'd make it through the winter without my trough heater and heated buckets. Saves so much time, plus, horses eat more and should drink more in the winter, but they don't like freezing cold water.Don't remember how I addressed that back when I had a few chickens, think I just kept refilling when it was freezing cold.

  3. The water has been quite a challenge for us this year. From extreme hot summer temps to the subzero temps this winter the water has needed changing often. It's been a chore for sure. By the way love the extra space you added for your girls.

    @3Beeze Homestead

  4. Good to know! It's so strange to think of chickens living in the snow. Yours must be warm and cozy in your sweet coop.

  5. Great post. I love your straightforward delivery and common sense approach. Great photos too!
    Fresh Eggs Daily

  6. I noticed in the opening photo you seem to have a chicken waterer hanging up rather high in the coop. Is there a reason for this? Thanks for the waterer tips.

  7. Sue - I've heard they work well. Thank you for sharing your experience!
    Mary - I LOVE that we have electricity in the coop. Makes it so much easier!!
    Thanks so much Snooks!
    Thanks Daisy and Lisa.
    Victoria - we put the outside waterers up at night to keep any wild critters out of them. That one just hadn't been lowered yet when I took the photo.

  8. I'm ready to not have a collection of waterers around my fire everynight to battle freezing. :)

  9. Good tips! We switched over to rubber pans for water about a year ago and I'm so happy with them. Easy to get ice out of! I take down fresh water each morning in a 5 gal bucket and fill up their water pan. I've finally figured out a system!


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