Water is a crucial component in any balanced chicken diet.
A chicken’s body weight is made up of 50% water and an egg’s weight is 65% water.
A few of water’s many crucial jobs is to transport nutrients throughout the body, remove metabolic waste, and keep the body cool through evaporation.
Minimum Water Needed
A chicken will often consume twice as much water as it does solid food. However, a chicken will eat less and drink more as the temperature rises.
Depending on a variety of factors, an average chicken will drink between 1 and 2 cups of water each day.
Factors that affect water intake include:
- The chicken’s breed.
- The chicken’s health (chickens who have certain diseases tend to drink more).
- The temperature.
- Water palatability.
- Feed composition (chickens who consume diets rich in salt or protein tend to drink more).
- Feed intake.
- Laying hens typically consume twice as much water compared to non-laying hens. A hen may need up to 24 hours to recover if she goes without water for a day.
Please Note: A chicken needs to drink small amounts of water throughout the day. Chickens do not consume much water all at once.
A chicken can survive longer without food than it can without water.
Insufficient water intake reduces hen egg production, impairs development in chicks, and increases the chance of heat stress in hot temperatures.
Kidney failure is another condition brought on by chickens not drinking enough water.
A few causes of dehydration include:
- If the water is of low quality or they don’t like the taste of it, chickens will go without it.
- By causing the body to lose water too quickly for it to be absorbed, diarrhea also contributes to dehydration.
- In hot weather, water deprivation happens when a flock’s water needs increase while the supply stays the same, resulting in occasional dry spells at the waterers.
- Water may be plenty for the chickens in the winter, but they’re out of luck if the water is frozen.
Signs of Dehydration
Knowing the signs of dehydration in chickens is essential to maintaining their health and well-being.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Comb and wattles are blue-tinged and shrunken.
- There are noticeable tendons on the backs of the legs.
- The poop is watery and discolored.
- The chicken loses weight rapidly.
- The chicken is lethargic.
Give your flock water from a dependable, clean source.
Most basic chicken waterers with a no-roost top (Amazon) will do just fine during the warmer seasons. No-roost top waterers are my favorite because it keeps my chickens from roosting on top of the waterer and pooping in their water.
Poultry Nipple Drinker
One form of drinker that is particularly well-liked is the poultry nipple drinkers (Amazon).
Poultry nipple drinkers are essentially trouble-free when installed correctly and they don’t spill or leak. Additionally, they prevent poop from getting into the water, reducing the need for daily cleaning.
The one drawback to nipple drinkers is that chickens tend to drink less as a result, so it’s recommended that you provide supplementary water sources in hot weather.
An issue I had with my chickens’ water was trying to figure out how to keep the water from freezing in the winter. I didn’t have the time to check the water every few hours and the water kept on freezing. So I got a no-roost heated waterer (Amazon). I’ve only had it for one winter, but so far so good.
Chickens prefer to drink water that is about 55°F and will drink less of it if it is considerably warmer or colder than that.
So, it’s a good idea to place drinkers in a shaded area throughout the summer so that the sun won’t warm the water.
Drinking water polluted with poop or mucus from diseased chickens can spread a wide range of diseases.
Wash drinkers with soap and water at least once a week. Then use vinegar or a chlorine bleach solution to disinfect them (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).
Water in the Yard
Strangely enough, you can provide the cleanest, freshest water for your flock. However, if given the chance, your chickens will continue to drink from dirty puddles.
Good yard drainage greatly reduces stagnant water where microorganisms and insects carrying parasites exist.
Place your coop on a small slope to improve drainage if your land doesn’t contain much sand or gravel. Many parasites and microorganisms can’t survive for very long without moisture.