Choosing the right chicken waterer for your flock can save you a lot of time and work.
The ideal waterer will keep the water clean and fresh.
It should not leak and should be easy to clean and refill.
Buying the best you can afford usually pays you back. In general, the cheaper items can break easily and be frustrating to deal with.
This article will give you the basics of chicken waterers and how to choose what is appropriate for your flock.
We have also picked our 5 favorite waterers that we use for our flocks…
Contents and Quick Navigation
- The Best 5 Chicken Waterers
- What to Consider When Choosing a Chicken Waterer
- Common Problems With Chicken Waterers
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best 5 Chicken Waterers
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Our Rating|
|The Best||RentACoop 5 Gallon Poultry Nipple Waterer||4.5|
|Runner Up||Harris Farms Plastic Poultry Drinker||4.2|
|Best Automatic||Chicken Culture’s Automatic Kit||4.0|
|Best Heated||Farm Innovators All-Seasons Heated Fountain||4.2|
|Best Cups||RentACoop Automatic Cup Waterer||4.0|
The Best: RentACoop 5 Gallon Poultry Nipple Waterer
The RentACoop 5 Gallon Poultry Nipple Waterer is a square 5 gallon bucket with side mounted nipples. The lid has a no roost cone so you should not find your hens roosting on the waterer. It is suitable for a flock of 6 hens and can last for a week before you need to refill it. The sealed design helps to keep the water fresh and stops mud from getting into the water. The waterer is made from BPA free plastic and has 4 nipples which your chickens can drink from.
- This waterer keeps water clean and fresh.
- No setup needed and comes ready to use.
- Very easy to fill up.
- Has 4 separate nipples so several chickens can drink at once.
- Can hold up to a week’s worth of water.
- Nipples can leak if they are knocked.
- Some chickens will not like drinking from nipples.
- Nipples can freeze during winter.
Runner Up: Harris Farms Plastic Poultry Drinker
Harris Farms Plastic Poultry Drinker is a classic waterer. These plastic dome top drinkers have been the standard waterers for many years. They are inexpensive and usually well made. This Harris model has a sturdy metal hanger which means you can use it either on the floor or hanging. It can be used inside the coop or outside. If you are looking for a cheap yet solid and reliable waterer this is the one for you.
- Good value for money.
- Heated unit can be added for the winter months.
- Simple to set up and refill.
- Very well built and solid construction.
- Easy for chickens to use.
- Difficult to keep clean.
- Can be heavy to carry once full.
- If cracked water can leak from base.
Best Automatic: Chicken Culture’s Automatic Kit
Are you tired of constantly refilling your waterer? Well, Chicken Culture’s Automatic Kit could mark the end to constant water refills. This kit contains everything you need to turn a regular bucket into an automatic waterer. If you have any kind of mobility issues or are away from your coop during the daytime this kit is for you. It comes with four cups so you can create four separate drinking stations.
- Chickens get unlimited fresh water.
- Kit is easy to put together.
- Compatible with standard garden hose.
- Suitable for a flock of 12 hens.
- You will also need to buy a bucket.
- Float valve can sometimes stay on.
- Will not work in areas that have freezing winters.
Best Heated: Farm Innovators All-Seasons Heated Fountain
The Farm Innovators All-Seasons Heated Fountain is the perfect solution to preventing frozen water. This heated chicken waterer is thermostatically controlled and will prevent water freezing down to 0F (-17C). If you struggle to refill your waterer during those cold winter months then this is the product for you. This waterer is ideal for a flock of chickens.
- Stops water from freezing.
- Thermostatically controlled so only uses electricity when needed.
- Can be hung or placed on the floor.
- 3 Gallon capacity.
- Powerlead is very short.
- Can be difficult to refill water.
Best Cups: RentACoop Automatic Cup Waterer
The RentACoop Automatic Cup automatically refills from the reservoir once the bird has drunk the water. This helps to keep the water clean as the reservoir is sealed however the cups can collect bits of debris and are not easy to clean out. If you already have a bucket and are looking to make a simple automatic waterer this is a good choice.
- Can be fitted to bucket or PVC pipe.
- Helps to keep water clean.
- Cheap DIY automatic solution.
- Cups can jam and not release water.
- Will not work in the cold and snow.
What to Consider When Choosing a Chicken Waterer
The design of waterer you pick will depend on where you want to place it and how many birds you have.
There are those designed for hanging which makes them great to use inside the run or pen.
Whereas others are designed with short legs for standing on the ground outside. Just remember if you have small breeds make sure they can access the water.
One aspect of the design to consider should be the ease of filling the container.
The easiest for me is the one where you simply unscrew the top and bottom pieces. This gives you a wide hole in which to pour your water.
Other types have a plastic screw or bunghole in the base. These narrow holes are the trickiest and require either a very steady hand or a funnel.
Next up is the material. The most common materials are plastic and metal.
Plastic is very durable although sunlight will bleach out the colors. Waterers made of thinner more brittle plastic do not hold up well in colder climates and can even crack.
Metal waterers are also very durable – they will eventually rust out and start to leak but you can expect many years of wear before that happens. You cannot use apple cider vinegar as a supplement in metal containers.
The next thing to consider is the flock size.
A general rule of thumb of one waterer for every eight to ten birds. This helps to prevent the more assertive birds from guarding the water. Also make sure to place them away from direct sunlight.
Consider the size of the flock and buy an appropriate sized waterer for them. The average chicken will drink about one pint (473ml) of water a day. So if you have a flock of six chickens you will need a waterer that holds at least six pints.
If you live in a climate that has snow and ice through the winter months you might consider buying a heated waterer.
They really do not cost that much more than a regular waterer, are cheap to run and you do not have to carry water to the coops on a daily basis to replace frozen water!
Types Of Waterers Explained
- Hanging: Hanging waterers are probably the most common, easy and inexpensive items out there. I use this type exclusively during the summer months as you can easily tell the water level and they are easy to clean and fill.
- Gravity: As the name implies this system runs on gravity alone. There are several different styles of gravity feeder out there and can vary in price. The system requires a large holding tank to be placed higher than the area where the chickens can obtain the water.
- Automatic: There are several different types of automatic waterer to choose from. The one thing they all have in common is that they attach to a water source (usually a hosepipe) which refills the waterer on demand.
- Nipple: Nipples are simply add-ons and deliver the water in small, controlled amounts rather than having a trough or open basin area. Nipples work by having the hens push their beaks against the toggle to release the water. The thought behind these innovations is that the water is kept contamination free until the chicken requires a drink.
Common Problems With Chicken Waterers
Probably the most common problem with waterers is the fact that the chickens contaminate the drinking trough very easily. They stick their dirty beaks in to drink after scratching up the dirt and poop from the floor.
This can be reduced by raising the waterer off the floor. You can also place it away from the areas where your chickens scratch.
A problem common to nipples and cups alike is leakage. If the product is not well put together it will leak regardless. Make sure the nipples and washers are fitted correctly and you will be ok. If the nipples do not leak straight away they tend not to leak at all.
Finally hanging waterers will create damp spots if you place it in a high traffic area. So make sure to place just outside of the area of congestion.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many waterers will your flock need?
A good average is one waterer per ten chickens. Some hens can guard the water or feed as if it is their personal property and chase away the more timid flock members. If you find this happening then provide more waterers.
Where should you place waterers?
Place them in easily accessible places such as near the feeder and in the pen. Try to ensure that the water does not sit in the sun all day as chickens do not like to drink warm water (heat also encourages the growth of bacteria).
Should you leave a waterer in the coop?
Generally speaking the waterer should not be placed in the coop as it puts moisture in the air. In the summer months this is not so much of a problem, but in winter moisture in the coop can lead to frostbite.
As always you know your flock better than anyone else.
So do your research and find out the best fit for your flock. You can also research feeders in our guide here, 5 best chicken feeders: what to know before buying.
Always read the reviews and Q&A sections before buying as it can clarify things for you.
From the chickens point of view they do not care what the chicken waterer looks like or how expensive it was! All they want is to get it as dirty as possible as quickly as possible and then have a drink.
Let us know in the comments section below if you have any questions…