Chicken Health For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

Like all creatures, chickens must have clean water. You should never wonder how much water to give chickens or when; fresh water should never be limited. Chickens whose water intake is restricted won’t eat as well as those with unrestricted access, and they won’t grow as fast or lay as well either.

People often don’t realize how important water is to their chickens until they go from pouring water in a dish once a day to a system that allows birds to always have fresh water available. The birds with unrestricted access to clean water grow better, are healthier, and lay more eggs.

In moderate weather a hen may drink a pint of water a day. In hot weather, that amount nearly doubles. Broilers may drink even more as their metabolism works much harder, producing more heat and using more water. Birds roaming freely may drink more or less than confined birds, depending on the moisture content of the food they consume and how active they are.

Drinking can be restricted because water isn’t available or because the water available is unappealing. Chickens don’t like water that’s too warm. In hot weather, providing an unlimited quantity of cool, clean water may mean the difference between life and death for your birds. Move water containers away from brooder lamps and out of sunny areas. You may want to change water or flush the pipes of automatic systems more frequently so the water is cooler.

Chickens also drink less if the water has an off taste from medications or additives, such as vinegar, that people feel they need to add to drinking water. Make sure any medications are truly needed in hot weather and avoid all those fancy additives so chickens will drink enough to avoid heat stress. Chickens also avoid dirty water full of algae, litter, dirt, and droppings, so scrub out those water containers.

In winter, if temps are below freezing, water must be offered at least twice a day in sufficient quantity that all birds can drink until they’re full. Alternately, a heated water container may be used.

Any time birds stop eating as much as usual, check the water supply. Nipple systems need to be manually checked frequently to make sure they’re working. We’ve heard horror stories of nipple valve systems becoming clogged by mineral deposits or other things and failing to work. These devices freeze up easily in cold weather, too. If the chicken caretaker fails to notice that the chickens can’t get water, the birds die of thirst.

About This Article

This article can be found in the category: