Chicken waterers, or chicken drinkers, are an essential addition to any chicken habitat. While you could always water your chickens with a simple bowl or trough, these are messy, require cleanup, and even pose a danger to your younger chicks.
Chicken waterers provide water to your flock in a way that’s safe, clean, and convenient. But there are a lot of waterers on the market! With so much variety and options, it can be hard to choose the right waterer for your flock, especially if you’re new to raising chickens.
Keep these factors in mind when you go shopping.
Before you buy a waterer
- What’s your lifestyle?
Are you on the homestead all day to refill water jugs? Or are you at an office all day?
The right watering system will differ depending on your lifestyle. More automated choices are better for folks who work off the farm, or who regularly travel. If you’re on the homestead all day, you could get away with a simple, gravity-fed system.
Keep other factors in mind here, too, like the waterer’s weight, how often it needs cleaning, and how frequently it needs refills.
- Chicken age
Chicks have different needs than full-grown chickens. Chicks are like kids: they need to drink from a smaller, more accessible source than chickens.
When choosing a waterer, think about your chickens’ age. If you have chicks, your waterer needs to be short and shallow. Otherwise, you risk dehydration and drowning.
You may need a different waterer for chicks and another for chickens. I would invest more in the chicken waterer since the chick phase won’t last forever!
Chicken waterers come in two materials: metal and plastic. Both have their benefits and downsides.
Metal is a good pick if you plan to raise chickens for the long term. It’s more expensive, but it will last longer. However, metal waterers don’t come in a big variety of sizes, so it’s best to buy these once you know exactly what you need.
Plastic waterers, on the other hand, have more range and options. They’re cheaper upfront and lighter to carry, but they won’t last as long. They’re a good option if you’re trying to figure out what size waterer you need for your flock.
Our favorite chicken waterers
Once you know your needs, the age of your chickens, and materials, it’s time to choose your waterer. Here are a few waterer styles that you might find online or at the feed store.
- Gravity waterer
Got a handful of hens? A gravity waterer is the perfect option.
Ideal for small flocks, this simple waterer is the most common choice among homesteaders. You don’t have to worry about it freezing in the winter and it’s simple to set up.
You do have to remember to check these waterers and refill them regularly. Chickens drink 1 – 2 pints of water per day. Calculate how many pints your waterer will need to keep all of your chickens watered for the day.
Gravity feeders can also get messy! Chickens aren’t known for their cleanliness, after all. You’ll need to clean these waterers regularly.
- Nipple waterer
Nipple waterers are valve lines that connect to a large, plastic bucket full of water. These drip lines release water only when they’re touched, preserving water and preventing mess.
Nipple waterers have two big downsides. First, you may need to train the chickens to use them, since it doesn’t come naturally to them. Second, these drip lines can freeze in the winter. They’re best used in warm climates or if you have a heater.
- Watering cups
Watering cups work like nipple waterers, but with one big difference. Instead of a drip valve on the end, the water empties into a small cup.
The chickens drink from these cups, making it easier for them to get a drink. The cups are also easier to clean than gravity feeders.
You can purchase a nipple waterer system and add the cups to your lines. Here are the cups on Amazon.
The bottom line
Chickens are a rewarding and fun addition to any homestead. While they’re easy to care for, you still need to get the right equipment to set them up for success. Choose the type of waterer that’s best suited to your needs and your chickens.