Heated Chicken Waterers

Heated Chicken Waterers

Heard heated chicken waterers can make life easier, but aren’t sure which to buy? Not even sure they’re safe? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know!

For people like us, who raise animals out of the comforts of a heated home, cold is a serious problem. If the temperature drops too far, water freezes. While some animals can break ice – with breath and a hot tongue, or a beak – there are limits to what these resources can do. And when temperatures plummet, dehydration can be a major problem for your fur or feather babies. 

One solution – heated chicken waterers – are a simple method of providing water to your flock. Today we’ll look at the kinds of heated waterers available for our chickens. 

Our Favorite Heated Chicken Waterers On Amazon:

Do Chickens Need to Drink Water?

Oh yes, chickens absolutely drink water. It might be funny to watch them – they fill their mouths and then tip their heads back – but water is an absolutely necessary part of their daily diet. Actually, an adult chicken will drink a few cups of water per day. Get a group of 20 chickens together, and they’ll likely go through as much water per day as a cow. 

Are Heated Chicken Waterers Safe?

Mostly, yes. You need to watch out for how hot they get, and how much electricity they draw. It’s best to look at your user manual and reviews online for the specific unit you’re considering.

Are There Different Types Of Heated Chicken Waterers?

Not including home-made, there are three different types of heated chicken waterers:

Automatic Waterers 

These waterers contain a basin that has one or more openings at the base that open only when chickens use them. These are generally clean, neat, and very hygienic. Depending on the valve, these waterers also avoid dripping water and frozen puddles beneath them. However, some parts are more prone to freezing.

Gravity-Type Waterers 

These operate under the same principle as the automatic waterers, save for one major difference: the distribution method. These jugs generally are attached to an open pan (also known as a “drinker”) that your chickens will drink from. Because they are open, you run the risk of your birds contaminating the pan. The drinkers are also pretty easy to break off. 

Open Pans Or Dish-type Waterers 

These are often a pan set out over a heated base. They run the same risk of contamination as the gravity waterers, which will require more scrubbing than, say, the automatic waterers. Elevating them off the ground in the heated base will help to reduce the muddying of waters. 

What Makes The “Ideal” Heated Chicken Waterer?

This is a complicated question. There are several key elements to consider:

  • How cold does it get in your area?
  • How many chickens are in your coop?
  • What material works best for you?
  • Should it rest on the floor or be elevated? 
  • Is it durable enough or will it freeze? 

Affordability is another concern. Some options – like batteries – can cost a lot over time. Some heated chicken waterers (especially the do-it-yourself variety) could put unnecessary stress on your wallet. 

How many chickens have you got? The answer to this will determine the size of your waterer, as you don’t want to be slogging out into the cold every couple of hours to refill the water of your birds. 

In other words, the ideal waterer will completely depend on your flock. Just make sure it’s durable so in the event that the water does freeze, the container won’t rupture or break. 

Let’s further explore these questions below.

How Big Should It Be?

As previously mentioned, a flock of 20 birds will drink about as much as a cow – that’s a whole lot of water to provide. If your flock consists of fewer than 5 birds, a single 2-gallon waterer should suffice. Most single waterers range in size from about a gallon to 3 gallons. The heaters in heated chicken waterers are very adept at cooling off smaller areas, but anything larger than that could run into problems with the law thermal equilibrium, which states that temperatures will seek a balance. 

In extremely cold weather, some heaters might prove insufficient in warming large quantities of water. 

With the addition of more birds, you will probably need more heated chicken waterers. Some sources recommend having on three-gallon waterer for every 10 to 12 chickens. 

What Kinds Of Automatic Valves Are There For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Nipples are a type of automatic valve that is fast becoming a preferred method of watering chickens on cold winter days. These are designed to not release water until your chicken pokes it with their beaks. 

Floating valves are small cups of water. When your chickens dip their beaks into the cup, they press on a floating valve that releases fresh water into the cup. This provides a constant set amount of water in this hanging waterer.

Should I Use Plastic Or Metal For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Ultimately, that is your call. Both materials are excellent in cold weather. Plastic waterers are durable and do not break easily. Galvanized metal also holds up very well in extreme cold BUT freezes faster than plastic. Both can be found with internal or external heaters, though plastic heaters usually have the heating element in the base. 

Should I Hang My Heated Chicken Waterers Or Lay Them On The Ground?

This is an important question, that depends, in part, on what you have available in your coop or in your pen. One clear benefit of hanging waterers is you can raise it off the ground, and your chickens are less likely to roost on them (which means less poop). Elevating the water from the ground reduces the chances your flock will poop in it. 

Ground-based waterers don’t have to be messy, however. A waterer set upon a heating pad can still get that required height and also remain equally clean to hanging heated chicken waterers. 

How Often Should I Refill My Heated Chicken Waterer?

The easy answer is “Whenever they need filling.” Since most waterers can hold upwards of a couple of gallons, they have a bit of staying power. Still, you should be checking your waterers at least once every day. That way, you can top off the containers when you see they need it, and you can see if they need to be cleaned. Your chickens might have made a mess of the waterers, and you’ll want to clean them up as soon as possible. 

Are There Heated Chicken Waterers Without Electricity Needed?

Some heated chicken waterers don’t require electricity, such as solar powered heated waterers. Others include battery-powered heaters. You can read this article here for an excellent how-to that breaks down a number of means of keeping your chickens hydrated – and all without electricity!

What About Solar Heated Chicken Waterers?

The simplest solution would be to have a large black tub that is not too tall for your chickens to reach. Place this into the sunniest part of the coop, and over the course of the day, the heat from the sun might prove to be enough to keep your flock hydrated. In colder climates, however, this might not work as well, and alternative heating might be required. 

Are There Do-it-Yourself Heated Chicken Waterers?

There are a number of sources out there across the internet that offer solutions for homemade water heaters. Here’s 2 that we like:

Where to Find Heated Chicken Waterers?

You can usually find them at farm stores, like Tractor Supply. You can also find them on Amazon here:

We hope this information about heated chicken waterers helps you keep your chickens hydrated and healthy, even through the bitter chills have arrived! Stay warm!

Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Wondering “can chickens fly?” Well, like most things with chickens: it depends.

 

Some chicken breeds can fly and some can’t. And even within a specific breed, some individual chickens can fly, and some cannot.

 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the question “can chickens fly!”

 

What Is A Flightless Bird, Really?

Flightless birds are comparatively rare – there are only about 60 species of flightless birds on Earth. One of the most iconic of flightless birds, the ostrich, is the largest bird and can run at speeds upwards of 40 mph (64.37 kph). 

 

These massive runners live in Africa, and use their 2-inch diameter eyes to spy out threats like lions, leopards, and packs of hyenas. While it might not be clear when these incredible birds lost their ability to fly, there is evolutionary precedent for this: ostriches are ratite, which is “any bird whose sternum (breastbone) is smooth, or raftlike, because it lacks a keel to which flight muscles could be anchored. All species of ratites are thus unable to fly.” Other ratites are the emu, cassowary, rhea, and kiwi.

 

Right up there with the ostrich as the most iconic of flightless birds is the tuxedo-sporting critter: the penguin. Unlike ostriches, penguins are not ratites. They possess the keel on their sternum to which their wings attach. 

 

Whereas volant birds use their wings for flight, penguins have adapted to underwater explorations, and instead use their wings as fins that allow them to effectively navigate in the waters where their food lives. In a way, because of this adaptation, penguins might be considered volant birds that just happen to fly through a vastly different environment than most other volant birds. 

 

So where does this leave us with pet chickens?

 

Are Chickens Actually Flightless?

So, what does all this say about chickens? Your chickens have all of the right tools for flight. They (generally) have the feathers and the keel on their sternum which their wings attach to, and they certainly have the muscles for it. With all of these details, the question remains: Can chickens fly?

 

Yes, kind of. And it depends on the breed. 

 

All chickens have strong muscles, and flight is one of the few ways this species can keep safe from predators. Most breeds are capable of “burst flights”, which are quick and can carry chickens to safety within moments. At night, as you probably know, they like to fly up to their roosts, which gives them a good vantage point to see if any raccoons, dogs, etc are coming their way.

 

Since they’ve been domesticated, they’ve largely lost this ability. Why is that? 

 

Chickens are most commonly bred for two things: eggs and meat. White meat is muscle, and it’s white meat that our ancestors favored. Selective breeding for meat has maximized the size of our chickens’ chest muscles. In theory, this should make chickens fantastic fliers. In reality, however, this is counterproductive. In order to fly, birds need light bodies with muscles strong enough to carry their own weight. 

 

The ideal flier will have a lean – almost sinewy – body: one that is strong enough to propel itself off the ground and light enough to stay aloft. Sustained flight also requires endurance. Human-bred chickens seldom are bred for strength, leanness, and endurance. 

 

Unlike ostriches and penguins, modern flightless chickens are not tied to the Earth because they don’t have the muscles to fly, but because it’s been bred out of them. In other words: We have bred our birds to be too large to support much of a flying ability. The average chicken can fly for about 10 feet, and about as high off the ground.

 

Being similar in flight skills to game birds, chickens were never the greatest fliers, and lack the skills for sustained flight, but they have been known to fly for as long as 13 seconds and a distance of 301.5 feet. It might be a short flight, but it likely is plenty enough to do its job: to get the chickens away from danger. 


Which Chickens Can Fly?

Larger chicken breeds are far less likely to even hover, as the energy required for even minimal flight can be preventative, but there are a number of breeds that are more inclined to flight:

 

 

are the most commonly known fliers. 

 

They have leaner bodies, and this is better suited for the short flights attainable by chickens. Our own Leghorns love flying into trees. 

 

At night, Araucanas occasionally roost up in the trees. Originally from Switzerland, the Spitzhaubens are a flighty bird that sometimes takes that adjective literally. Thanks to their smaller size, some bantam hens can achieve high heights for roosting purposes or when spooked. 

 

Which Chickens Can’t Fly?

There are some breeds that, no matter what, simply won’t get liftoff. Either they lack the feathers, or are just too dang heavy.

 

Some breeds, such as Silkies, can’t fly at all – they simply don’t have flight feathers on their wings. To keep them safe, you have to give them a place to climb up to. Ours can get lift off of maybe 12 inches, and that’s pretty much a big jump for a silkie.

 

Our Mille Fleur bantams and Cochin bantams can’t fly either – although they have wing feathers, their wings are too small. 

 

Other chickens, such as Orpingtons or Brahmas, have been bred to be so large, they simply are too heavy to fly.  

 

How Can I Stop My Chickens from Flying?

 

A few times a week, a person in my Facebook group asks how they can stop their flock from pooping all over the neighbor’s yard. There’s some easy ways to keep your chickens from making unwanted visits.

Build a Fence

The easiest way to prevent your chickens from flying away is to build a sizable fence around your chicken coop. This will stop most birds from flying out of their homes. 

 

For the heaviest breeds, you will not need anything taller than a 4-foot fence. For the slightly less heavy – the Mediterranean breeds, for example – you might need to build a 12-foot fence. 

 

Clip Their Wings

If you want to stop a bird from flying, one more adage comes to mind: “clip their wings,” which really means to trim their feathers. 

 

When done correctly, trimming feathers is painless. Once clipped, your chicken’s feathers can’t provide the lift needed for flight.

 

Do you still wonder “can chickens fly?” How far have your own chickens flown? Leave a comment below!

 

The Best Herbs For Chickens To Eat? These Are Them (Plus One For First Aid!) [Podcast]

The Best Herbs For Chickens To Eat? These Are Them (Plus One For First Aid!) [Podcast]

While a lot of herbs are great for chickens, there’s a few that I feel are the best herbs for chickens to eat.

There’s also a couple on my list that are perfect for other uses, such as first aid and as natural cleaners (make sure you grab my free reference sheet).

 

In this episode of What The Cluck?! we look at my favorite herbs for chickens to eat, as well as how to actually incorporate these herbs into your daily life with your flock. 

 

 

You’ll learn:

 

  • Which are the best herbs for chickens to eat
  • Why I recommend avoiding cinnamon
  • My favorite way to clean a chicken coop

 

Where to Buy:

herbs for hens

Chicken Farms Try Oregano As Antibiotic Substitute

Boy In Kentucky Dies From Cinnamon Inhalation

 

what herbs can chickens eat content upgrade-min

Transcript:

 

So, first let’s talk about the whys, meaning why bother being concerned about the best herbs for chickens to eat, as well as using herbs in the first place, and there’s some good reasons, as well as scientific reasons, why herbs are a good idea.

 

When it comes to chickens and their eggs, withdrawal times is a big deal, more so than with dogs and cats, for example.

 

And this is for obvious reasons, we eat eggs and we eat chicken, and many modern medicines will come out in their eggs and meat, we know this for a fact, so unless you want a mouthful of antibiotics, which I don’t think any doctor out there would recommend unless you’re sick, then withdrawal times play a really important role when making decisions for your flock.

 

Herbs, on the other hand, don’t have withdrawal times, so the advantage in certain situations is pretty clear.

 

As an aside, if you end up raising goats for their milk, for example, you can avoid wasting milk if you’re able to treat them with herbal remedies since medicines can come out in their milk.

 

But getting back to chickens, you can also use herbs to promote better laying and to get your hens to lay in their nests, if they don’t already do that. I do get questions frequently from readers and listeners whose hens won’t lay in nests, and there herbs I do recommend for that.

 

So, lets get into the best herbs for chickens to eat and how to use them!


Hens love nesting herbs!

nesting box herbs

Yes, I want to SPOIL my hens with nesting herbs!


Oregano

So we’re going to start off with my favorite herb to use in my coop, and that’s oregano. Oregano is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat and there’s a couple reasons for that.

 

Oregano is well-known for its antibacterial properties, and it’s becoming the darling of the egg industry because studies are showing that it’s more potent than antibiotics for keeping chickens healthy.

 

And these are large farms with hundreds of thousands of chickens, so disease tends to run rampant at those places just because of living conditions and overpopulation.

 

But these farms in New York State found that when they fed oregano, that their death rates and illness rates declined quite extensively.

 

And I’ll put a link in the show notes where you can read an article from the New York Times about it.

 

So, the way I like to offer oregano is dried or fresh in bunches, and the nice thing about this is that the chickens can peck at it, and it keeps them busy and not forming negative behaviors in addition to keeping them healthy.

 

Another great thing to do with oregano is to use it in their nesting boxes, and you can do this by just putting fresh leaves into the boxes themselves.

 

The hens will love the scent and it will help deter pathogens. Another nice thing is it will help keep the eggs clean because your hens will have a clean place to nest, and the scent will give them a boost and stimulate egg laying.

 

At the end of the day, happy hens lay better and if they have healthy food in their systems, like oregano, their eggs will be healthier, so offering them a nesting box with oregano leaves will help them lay better eggs.

 

So, like I said, oregano is really one of the best herbs for chickens to eat.

herbs for hens lavender

Lavender

While lavender has some antibacterial properties, and it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat, it’s better known and better used as a calming agent.

 

So, lavender is well known to be a way to calm people and animals, and that means chickens too.

 

I like to use lavender in nesting boxes to help create a peaceful environment for chickens to lay in.

 

While it doesn’t outright promote laying, meaning you can’t feed a hen lavender and out pops an egg, you can create an environment that promotes calmness that will help your hen feel secure enough to lay.

 

Laying eggs is one of the most vulnerable times for a hen because she needs to stay still, and since hens are a prey animal, in the wild, not moving could mean death.

 

So, a hen that’s stressed or worried is not likely to lay, or at the minimum, she won’t lay a good, healthy egg.

 

So offering an environment that lets her feel safe is a great way to encourage her to lay, and if she feels secure, she’ll lay better eggs, assuming you’re also feeding her an adequate diet.

 

You can incorporate it into their feed as well, either fresh or dry, and like I said, it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat because it does have antibacterial properties, so your hens will derive some benefit from it that way too.

 

You can also add lavender to cleaners to give them a calming scent your hens will appreciate.

 

Now when it comes to using herbs in your chicken’s nesting boxes, be sure to change them frequently so they don’t mold or breed other pathogens, especially if you use fresh herbs. Switching them out every other day or so will work well.

 

The other thing about lavender is it repels insects, and I’ve found it useful against flies, so including it in your nesting box will help repel flies, which of course, spread disease.

 

Mint

Mint is extraordinarily useful for many things when it comes to your chickens and I always keep a ton of it around the homestead. I like to use peppermint for a lot of things, and so that’s what I mostly grow, and it’s one of best herbs for chickens to eat.

 

Mint is great to put in nesting boxes along with lavender to stimulate laying, and it will create a fresh, good smelling environment for your chickens.

 

But what I really like using mint for is as a repellent. On our farm, because we have so many animals, we have a lot of flies, and I can tell you that mint is great for repelling flies.

 

I have a natural fly repellent I made here on the farm, and it works great.

 

You can read the exact recipe to make it on the blog, but to recap, you boil the herbs, I like to use both mint and lavender since both repel flies, and allow them to steep in the boiling water, just as if you were making a tea.

 

You then mix it with witch hazel to formulate your fly repellent.

 

The witch hazel does have a bit of a scent, but because water is absorbed really quickly into things while witch hazel isn’t, it works better for ensuring the lavender and mint stick around longer.

 

Once you make the repellent, you’ll have herbs left over, and you can feed them to your chickens for an additional immune booster.

herbs for hens calendula

Calendula

So next on our list of the best herbs for chickens to eat is calendula, and there’s a good reason for that.

 

Calendula have long been known to repel insects in gardens, and they’re considered to be one of the best companion plants out there.

 

So, using them in your chicken coop, in nesting boxes, for example, will help repel bugs and keep them out of your nesting boxes.

 

Calendula is also edible for both people and chickens, and they’re said to make your chicken’s egg yolks more orange, so if you want, you can offer the petals to your chickens in their feed.

 

 

Grow herbs in herb boxes

Now, if you want to do something fun and entertaining, you can grow the best herbs for chickens to eat in a grow box, which is a raised bed, 4 to 6 inches high is a good height, that also has a top made of hardware cloth.

 

So, as the herbs grow, they reach the top of the hardware cloth.

 

Chickens can peck the herbs above the hardware cloth or a little below it, but they can’t get to the roots of the herbs, so once the tops of the plant is gone, it has the ability to grow back.

 

It’s a great way to offer herbs to your chickens in a way that’s also interesting to them.

 

You can either grow the herbs straight in the ground or make the grow box like a container garden for them.

 

Now, if you’re interested in giving your hens herbs and want a handy reference sheet, you can grab my free tip sheet on the blog at TheFrugalChicken.com/chickenherbs.

 


Hens Love Nesting Herbs!

nesting box herbs

YES, I WANT TO SPOIL MY HENS WITH NESTING HERBS!


 

What Is Piling?

What Is Piling?

As we move through the process of raising baby chicks, we want to address some potential problems you may encounter. One of these is an issue known as piling.

 

Piling occurs when baby chicks clump together for safety. For example, if it’s cold or dark, then the chicks might lay on top of each other. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. It’s not much different than mammals gathering together in a close-knit group to stay calm and keep away the chill.

 

The Downside Of Piling

Unfortunately, when 10 to 15 chicks pile together, some may get crushed or suffocate. Particularly if they are in a brooder or another enclosed area (you can learn how many chicks should be in a brooder here). The reason for this? Even though baby chicks are incredibly independent, they are still fragile. Bantams in particular.

 

These chicks are so tiny that they get lost in the melee to gather together. If a bantam is weaker or not growing as well as the others, this also leads to a greater risk of being crushed. In addition, since bantams get colder faster, there’s a likelihood of them piling up more frequently.

 

How To Minimize Piling Risks

Regardless if they’re bantams or full-size, chicks have a harder time keeping warm. And if the smaller chicks are mixed with normal sized ones, there’s a potential for greater damage. In the end, the way to minimize piling risks is to separate the chicks by size and make sure there’s no more than 10-15 chicks in the brooder. 

 

Not too long ago, we received a batch of bantams and full-size chicks from a hatchery. The first thing we did is to separate them out, so the smaller chicks didn’t get crushed by a wall of bigger ones. Overall, we were able to maintain the safety of all of them.

 

Another way to minimize piling is to keep baby ducks and chicks in different brooders. Infant ducks tend to be bigger and heavier. Even though their interactions may be cute, a baby duck sitting on a day-old chick can cause fatal injuries.

 

A third way to prevent piling is to provide different heat sources, especially in enclosed spaces. With these units added throughout the brooder, the chicks can move to another source of warmth if the first one is too crowded. Be sure the brooder doesn’t get too hot, though!

Get Your Chicks To Thrive

As you would do with babies in your care, you want to ensure your chicks are well protected. This means shielding the smaller, fragile ones from being crushed when a group decides to pile together. By separating bigger chicks from smaller ones, as well as providing multiple heat sources, you can reduce this risk. In turn, you will end up with a healthy flock of chickens in a variety of sizes.

Poultry Grit: Your Questions Answered!

Poultry Grit: Your Questions Answered!

Chickens don’t have teeth. To help them digest their food, owners must provide their hens and roosters with poultry grit. 

Mainly made of crushed granite, it helps the chicken grind down their food while in the gizzard, the part of their stomach where food and grit are mixed together with all the acids and digestive enzymes. This process allows for the breakdown and absorption of the nutrients chickens need to be healthy.   

Many free-range chickens get the grit they need from small stones and rocks while foraging for food. But if your flock doesn’t free range, it can be difficult for the chickens to access the poultry grit they require, especially when they’re kept in fenced enclosures. For this reason, you should introduce one of the numerous varieties available of chicken grit substitutes into your flock´s daily diet.

In this article, we’ll cover the different types of poultry grit available, their quality, and their advantages.  

Grit and Oyster Shells Aren’t The Same

Grit is small stones that chickens naturally pick up. They’re important for digestion, and help chickens break down their food. Sometimes, you’ll see oyster shells referred to as grit on the Internet. While oyster shells can perform some digestive activities that grit does, these two things aren’t the same.

Oyster shells are an important source of calcium, and you should feed it so your hens lay eggs with thick shells that don’t break easily. However, it will be digested eventually, whereas rock grit will stay in your chicken’s digestive system until it’s pooped out.

Grit, on the other hand, is usually granite, and doesn’t provide any nutrients or minerals. However, because they aren’t digested, they will remain in your flock’s digestive system longer. Stones are also stronger, and better at helping break down food. It’s best to offer both of these important supplements to your chickens to help them be as healthy as possible. Now that we got that clear, let’s talk about the different types of poultry grit available.

There’s 5 Types of Poultry Grit

Small stones found in nature

Yep, if you’re on a budget or just want to use materials already available to you, then you can go collect a bunch of small stones and make them available free choice. Stones smaller than a pea are best (about the size of an elderberry). You want to make sure your chickens can swallow them! If you don’t want to search for stones, then you have commercial options listed below.

Chick grit/Flint grit

It’s very tiny and thin flakes of crushed granite. It is used for grinding down food and helping chickens, ducks, and other poultry with their digestive processes. You typically see this type for baby chicks, and used in quail grits and turkey grits because the stones are small and easy for chicks to swallow. Smaller flakes are less useful for adults.

Granite grit

This is probably what you’ll see when you look for poultry grit at your local farm store. It’s larger pieces of granite that are the perfect size for adult chickens to swallow. You can offer this granite grit free choice or mix it with your flock’s feed. Your chickens will pick up the stones as they need them.

Oyster shell grit

As mentioned above, this isn’t the same type of poultry grit as granite grit, but it can still help your flock breakdown food in their gizzard. Unlike rocks, it will eventually break down in their digestive system. This type of grit is mainly made of ground up oyster shells and it is a great source of calcium to help chickens develop stronger egg shells.

Mixed poultry grit

Because these 2 types of grit described above behave in different ways in the chicken gizzard, one is soluble and the other one is not, they can be mixed together to allow for a greater benefit.

Poultry grit with probiotics

Lately, a lot of commercial companies have started adding probiotics to oyster shells. Probiotics are always a good idea – studies show that chickens with healthy digestive systems are healthier overall, weigh more, have better food absorption, and lay better eggs.

4 brands of poultry grit

The purchase of chicken grit can be quite affordable nowadays, and doesn’t need to break your bank. To choose the best option for your flock, first of all, it is important to understand the different types of grit available and what specific benefits they can offer to your chicken and their needs. 

We have done the homework for you, so let´s have a look at some of the best considered brands and varieties of poultry grit you can buy and which will not cost you a fortune:

Manna Pro Poultry Grit

This poultry grit is made of insoluble crushed granite, and it has been specially created to aid your chickens with a thorough digestion. Additionally, it comes in a handy 25lb bag. For more detailed information and to buy this product click here.

Nest Herbs With Oyster Shells

If you want to provide your flock with oyster shells, then this product makes it easy. Chickens love it! The oyster shells are the perfect size for hens, and the aromatic herbs make their coop a more relaxing place to lay eggs. You can buy this product here.

Purina Chick Grit

Ideal for chicks, young turkeys and game birds of up to 10 weeks of age. The crushed granite has been sized smaller, making it easier to swallow for chicks and helping them to support a healthy digestion. You can purchase Purina Chick Grit here.

Cherry Stone Poultry Grit

By Cherry Stone, this poultry grit has been specially designed to enable a more efficient digestive process. It is made of 100% crushed quartzite, which is harder and sharper than granite. To buy Cherry Cherry Stone Grit click here.

Is sand good poultry grit?

While you might hear that sand is a good poultry grit substitute, it’s not. Because it’s very fine, and absorbs water, sand can clump together in the crop and digestive system, causing sour crop or an impact. Larger stones will pass through the digestive tract better.

How much poultry grit should I feed my chickens?

In most cases, you can offer it free choice and let your flock decide when they need it. Put the poultry grit in a separate container from the food. A small bowl, chicken feeder (check out my recommendations here) or poultry grit feeder will work just fine. Check on the feeder regularly, and top off as needed.

Can I feed my chick the same grit as the adults?

No. You should feed chicks a type of grit specifically created for their size. Otherwise, your chicks might not eat it, or they might choke or become impacted because the stones are too large. Most commercial chick grits will say on the package that they’re for younger poultry. You can introduce adult sized grit at about 16 weeks. Until then, providing the chicks with a high quality starter chicken feed will suffice. 

I hope this poultry grit guide has helped you decide which type is best for you and how to feed it so your chickens are as healthy as possible!

Best Chicken Waterer: A Buyer’s Guide

Best Chicken Waterer: A Buyer’s Guide

We all know hens need water….but do you know what’s the best chicken waterer to make sure your fluffy butts are safe?

 

A good chicken waterer can make or break your flock. During the summer, it needs to provide consistent access to cool water to avoid heat stroke. In winter, it needs to be tough, so it doesn’t freeze over.

 

In this article, we’ll explore the various options available for chicks and adult hens. Chicken waterers are the easiest and best way to water chickens, regardless of season OR flock size.

 

The best chicken waterer we recommend:

 

The best chicken waterer for summer:

The best chicken waterer for winter (to keep water from freezing):

Why do I need a chicken waterer?

In short, because chickens need consistent access to water. Without it, they’ll become dehydrated, sick, and eventually, they’ll die. Waterers also let you keep track of your flocks liquid intake. This is especially important on hot days, or if they seem sick or stop laying eggs.

And if you want to provide herbs to your flock, soaking the herbs in water makes it easier to ensure all your hens get the benefits.

 

Chicken water feeders, or drinkers, come in a variety of sizes and shapes – what’s most important is that the waterer is safe, can hold enough water to last your chickens all day, and that your flock can’t knock it over and dump the contents everywhere.

 

How many chicken waterers do I need?

It’s best to have 1 waterer for every 5 chickens, especially during the summer (very hot climates might want to have 2+ waterers per chicken, especially if you’ll be gone all day.) If you have less than 1 waterer per 5 chickens, you will probably have to fill it up more frequently. If you use a automatic chicken waterer system like nipples, you just need to make sure there’s enough water in the system for all your chickens.

 

Different Kinds of Chicken Waterers

There’s different options with waterers and chicken water drinkers, and it’s best to know all the available options so you can pick the right one for your flock. (You can also check out the best chicken feeders I recommend here.)

 

There’s several kinds of waterers:

  • Mason jar waterers
  • Plastic waterers
  • Stainless steel waterers
  • Nipple waterers
  • Pet bowls
  • Drinker cups

 

Mason jar waterers

These are perfect for chicks, and they’re relatively inexpensive. They’re not the best for adults, however, because they don’t typically hold enough water. You will have to clean them daily, otherwise mold and moisture build up on bottom of the waterer, and form a gnarly bacteria culture.

 

Plastic waterers

These are an affordable option, and they’re also easy to clean. Sometimes they hold enough water for chickens, especially if you have a flock of 1-5 chickens. They’re also good for bantam chicken flocks. For larger flocks, however, they typically don’t hold enough to last all day. Like the mason jar waterers, you need to clean these daily.

 

Stainless steel waterers

These tend to be bigger than plastic waterers, but the same issue applies. They’re usually not big enough to accommodate flocks of 10 or more chickens (although you can use more than one waterer). They’re also usually heavier, so they’re harder for hens to knock over (which is a good thing). This is one of the easiest to use for all chicken breeds.

 

Nipple waterers

These systems make watering chickens very easy, and it keeps the water cleaner than the options above. Typically, the water supply is housed in a barrel, and the water automatically fills the nipples. Your chickens can then get a drink whenever they want.

 

The downside is that:

  • they’re sometimes hard to clean,
  • don’t provide a lot of water at once,
  • have a learning curve for your flock,
  • and tend to be more expensive.

 

Pet bowls

Yep, you can use a large canine pet bowl for your chickens – they work great. They’re durable, easy to clean, and can hold a lot of water. There’s nothing that says you need to spend a lot! (You can learn about other costs of owning a chicken here.)

 

These are also great if you need cheap or DIY chicken feeder ideas.

 

One downside is that your chickens can easily tip them over (you can always place rocks in them), and the water can get dirty very easily. 

 

Drinker cups

These are a type of automatic waterer that fills a drinking cup at eye level whenever your chickens are thirsty. They’re easy to set up and for chickens to learn to use. One downside is a lot of them aren’t very deep (so your chickens won’t get a lot of water per swallow) and they can freeze during winter.

 

How Much Water Does A Chicken Drink?

On average, chickens drink about a quart of water daily – so your waterers should be able to hold enough to keep each member of your flock happy. Using an automatic chicken waterer is the easiest way to make sure your flock has enough to drink. If your chickens become dehydrated, they can become sick or they might not lay eggs as efficiently.

 

What Should A Chicken Waterer Be Made Of?

Your chicken waterer can be made of several different materials:

  • Plastic,
  • Rubber, and/or
  • Stainless steel

There’s advantages and disadvantages to each option.

 

What’s better, plastic, rubber, or stainless steel?

On a grand scale, all are equally just as good – so when deciding on the best chicken waterer for your flock, choose the material that works best for your situation.

 

Plastic is always going to be easier to clean, especially in crevices. Rubber tends to shred, or get marks on it where bacteria can hide. It’s important to note, however, that plastic is less durable, and more likely to be cracked than rubber or stainless steel.

 

However, in winter, rubber tends to freeze less than plastic or metal. With a stainless steel chicken waterer, it’s important to take note that in the winter it can freeze faster, so if you don’t use a water heater, plastic or rubber is the better choice to go with.

 

With rubber heater buckets they tend to be black, this is so they’ll attract heat, and make the frozen water melt faster. (You can learn more about how to keep chicken water from freezing here.)

 

These are a type of solar heated chicken waterer – so using a rubber ground feeder, you can make your own diy heated chicken waterer. Amazon has good options, and there are many tutorials and resource material available on the internet to make a chicken waterer diy.

 

Watch this video for more information:

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Do Chickens Need An Automatic Waterer?

Your flock doesn’t necessarily need an automatic waterer, but it can make it easier to ensure that your chickens have access to water all the time. This is especially during the summer, when heat stroke can take its toll (learn more about how to keep chickens cool here).

 

On average, a mature chicken can drink approximately 1 quart of water each day in temperatures from 40 – 75, and even more in hot weather. They’ll also tend to drink more in winter, when the air is drier, so if you live in an area with long winters, consider investing in a 1 gallon heated chicken waterer.


In the winter, if you have an automatic waterer make sure that it will work in sub-freezing temperatures.

 

This is the automatic waterer we recommend:

 

What Size Chicken Waterer Is Best?

For adult chickens, it’s best to get 1 waterer per 5-6 chickens, and possibly more if you have flock bullies. Especially during summer, it’s important to make sure everyone can access water. You’ll need a waterer that holds about 1-2 gallons, if you have a flock of 5-6 chickens.

 

For day old chicks, a mason waterer is best. It holds enough water, and is shallow enough so your chicks won’t drown.

 

If you have adult chickens or chickens over 16 weeks, a 5-gallon bucket waterer is perfect – just make sure to turn it into an automatic waterer like in this video. While it’s tempting to just put the 5 gallon bucket in the coop, it’s too deep, and your chickens might fall in and drown.  

 

 

Should I Use A Nipple System For My Chickens?

Many people are happy with a chicken water feeder that includes nipples. They do have to be set up, but are handy devices designed to give water to chickens with minimal mess. Make sure your flock can get enough water, and also remember to hang it just a few inches above ground so your chickens can reach it. To hang it, use a stud or 2×4 board, since the waterer tends to be heavy..

 

In winter, these aren’t the best choice because they’re typically made with metal, which can freeze easily.

 

Should I Use Drinker Cups?

Using drinker cups might be the best chicken waterer system for your flock since it’s an easy and affordable automatic system. Remember to check the depth of the cups – in some cases, they aren’t deep enough for an adult chicken to get enough water. These are great for chicks, though, because they prevent the baby chicks from falling into the water and drowning.

 

Also, make sure any pipes in the drinker cup system are easy to clean or replace when they’re dirty. It’s important to prevent bacteria from forming and harming your flock.

 

Should I Use A Water Heater In Winter?

You can use a heated chicken waterer, just make sure it’s safe and won’t cause a fire. In Southern areas of the USA, it’s not really necessary as long as temperatures don’t get below freezing (especially during the day).  Plastic or rubber are also the least likely to freeze. (You can learn how to keep water from freezing with this trick – it also works for heated duck waterers too).

 

In some areas of the US, you likely will have to use a water heater, especially if temps in your area are consistently under 32 degrees F. Insulated chicken waterers are another option, however, even they will freeze eventually.

 

If you do use a water heater, it’s best to not use an extension cord because this can spark a fire. Always plug directly into a socket, and frequently check the cord to make sure it’s in good condition.

 

Where Can I Buy Chicken Waterers:

 

The Top Waterers On Amazon

Harris Farms Plastic Poultry Drinker  3.5 Gallon

This Harris Farms chicken waterer has the capacity to hold a 3.5 gallon of water, it’s durable and easy to fill with a twist-lock system that comes with a hanger/carry handle.

 

LITTLE GIANT Automatic Waterer, 5 Quart

Created by Little Giant, this easy to assemble and clean automatic waterer can hold up to 5 quarts of water providing a continuous flow of fresh water for adult poultry. The automatic float controls the water level to ensure that there is no spilling or overflow. The cover prevents roosting and keeps debris out of the water and it has a 0.75-inch hose that attaches to a standard garden hose.

 

Miller Manufacturing 740 Mason Jar Water Base

Designed by Miller Manufacturing, this plastic base waterer is perfect for poultry and game birds. It’s molded from shock resistant polystyrene and fits a model 690.

 

5 Gallon Chicken Waterer – Horizontal Side Mount Poultry Nipples

Created by RentACoop, this chicken waterer has the capacity to hold 5 gallons and is made from 100% food grade and BPA free plastic. The horizontal nipples prevent the ground/bedding from getting wet and comes with a no-roost cone to keep the lid clean and bacteria free. It comes in complete setup no assembly required!

 

RentACoop Automatic Chicken Water Nipple Cup Waterer Kit for Poultry

Created by RentACoop, this automatic chicken waterer doesn’t need tabs to push and the cups are always half full! It’s a solution for clean water for ducks, geese, turkeys, and an innovative chicken water drinker.  Watch this video to see how it works:

 

 

 

Royal Rooster Chicken Poultry Twin Waterer with Automatic Valve Operated Cup

Designed by Royal Rooster, this twin waterer is a no-mess solution to water your chickens or ducks! It’s easy to fill and clean and hooks straight onto mesh or attach to the wall with brackets.  It has the capacity of 1-gallon cup style drinker (suits 4-6 chickens/ducks), 20” tall, UV stable, durable PVC plastic, Australian made quality.

 

Premier Chick Nipple Waterer

Created by Premier, this nipple waterers has a 1-liter capacity that sits or hangs above the litter so water is always clean. It’s ideal for easy clean-up and a no-mess solution to giving waterers to chickens.

 

Farm Innovators Model HPF-100 “All-Seasons” Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain, 3 Gallon

Designed by Farm Innovators, this is by customer demand one of the best chicken waterer on Amazon. It’s a premier one chicken waterer that has the capacity to hold 3 gallons and it prevents water from freezing down to 0-degree F due to it being thermostatically controlled. It’s an all-around heated duck waterer and one of the most well reviewed heated chicken waterer Amazon has.

 

Premier Chick Nipple Drinker with Wall Bracket

Created by Premier, this 1-liter nipple drinker can sit or hang above the litter to ensure that water is clean and fresh, comes with a wall bracket for hanging on a brooder or coop wall. The lightweight wire hanging bracket is also included with the nipple waterer for attachment to the cage.

 

Muddy Hill Farm Sideways Sipper Horizontal Drinker Nipple – Spring Action, No drip, Side Mount, Poultry Nipple Drinker

Designed by Muddy Hill Farm, this sipper uses a horizontal drinking nipple to ensure no drips and leaks, unlike vertical nipples. Easy to install with its unique wing-like shape, just drill a ⅜” hole in your plastic container and screw in the Sideways Sipper Horizontal Poultry Drinker Nipple.

 

How To Clean A Waterer

How Do You Clean A Chicken Waterer?

To clean a chicken waterer:

  1. Soak the entire waterer in hot water
  2. With a stiff cleaning brush, gently scrub away dirt and bacteria.
  3. You can also use a gentle soap (make sure you get all the soap out of the waterer after scrubbing).
  4. If you don’t want to use soap, you can use hot water and white vinegar instead.
  5. Make sure all residue is cleaned off the waterer before returning it to your chicken coop.

It is important to clean your chicken water dispenser often. because nasties like bacteria, dirt, or algae can contaminate your flock’s water. In some cases (like stainless steel or nipples), you might also notice rust buildup on your waterer. Clean your vessel monthly with a brush, hot water, and a gentle dish soap. If you do not want to use soap, you can use white vinegar instead (we use this when cleaning our chicken incubators to get rid of bacteria.)

 

Is Bleach Harmful To Chickens?

In large quantities, it’s poisonous. Because chickens are so much smaller than humans, they feel the effects of bleach fumes more than we do. When cleaning your chicken waterers, it’s best to steer clear of bleach and use milder options.

 

How Much Vinegar Do You Put In Chicken Water?

If you want to clean your waterer with vinegar, use 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water. Be sure to clean your waterers with hot water, and use a stiff brush to scrape away dirt and buildup. If you want to give your chickens apple cider vinegar in their water, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 gallon of water, and add the mixture to their water dispenser.

 

How Do I Keep Algae Out Of My Chicken Waterer?

To keep algae out of chicken water:

  1. Keep your waterers out of the sun
  2. Clean them frequently
  3. Use a fountain, or other waterer that’ll keep water moving

 

Algae grows in standing water that’s in sunlight. So, to keep your flock’s water algae-free, make sure to keep their waterer out of direct sunlight, and clean them frequently. Since algae grows in standing water, you can also use a fountain since the moving water makes it harder for algae to grow.

 

Can Chickens Drink Water Out Of A Bowl?

Yes – large canine bowls (for great danes or irish wolfhounds, for example) are best. You can use just about anything that can hold liquid to give water to your chickens. Some common devices to keep hens from flipping over their water bowl are halves of tires, tip-over pails, rocks, and tubs.  

 

Can Chickens Drink Cold Water?

Yes. Chickens like drinking nice cool water. During summer months, you can provide cool water for most of the day by putting a block of ice in their waterer in the morning. Even in the winter, chickens will prefer cool water over hot.

 

Do Chickens Need Lots Of Water?

The average chicken drinks about 1 quart of water a day. So, you will need to provide enough water to satisfy your entire flock. You’ll also need to check their water intake in winter to make sure they’re drinking enough – otherwise, they might become dehydrated.

 

How Much Water Do Chickens Need A Day?

A typical full-grown laying hen will on average need a quart of water on a daily basis, however, this varies on the size of the hen, seasons, and outdoor temperature. Do not limit a chicken’s water because having an inconsistent supply of water will stop them from laying eggs and their health will deteriorate.

 

Do Chickens Need Water Inside Their Coop?

Yes, especially if they stay in a coop and/or run full time. Even though chickens don’t drink once they roost, they’ll be up at the crack of dawn (since chickens see more colors than we do, they’re up earlier). They’ll want a drink as soon as they wake up and start moving. During summer, they might return to their coop because it’s shady. In winter, they might not want to leave to stay warm. So, it’s always a good idea to keep water in your chicken coop. You can learn about what your coop should include here.

 

Do Free Range Chickens Need Water?

Free range chickens are no exceptions – they still need an adequate amount of water for them to remain healthy. They need a clean, fresh water source in the garden or access to their waterer located in the chicken coop.

 

Can Chickens Go Without Water At Night?

Yes, because once night falls and they roost, chickens usually won’t want to eat or drink. However, it’s still a good idea to keep water in their coop. Once they wake up and start moving, they will want water.

 

How Long Can Chickens Be Without Water?

Chickens can be without water for a couple days, but it’s not recommended. To remain healthy and to lay eggs, chickens need full time access to water. Without it, they can become dehydrated and stop laying eggs. It can take several weeks for them to recover.

 

Will Chickens Drink Dirty Water?

Yes, they will. Chickens aren’t too picky. However, it’s not a good idea to give them dirty water. It can contain harmful bacteria or mold, or any other thing that can make your flock sick. It’s best to provide fresh, clean water at all times.

 

Will Antifreeze Kill Chickens?

Yes, antifreeze is poisonous to chickens. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic – it can take just a few drops to kill a chicken. It’s always best to keep your antifreeze away from your chickens (and other household pets).

 

Can I Put Apple Cider Vinegar In My Chickens Water?

Yes, chickens love apple cider vinegar, and it’s easiest to offer it to your flock in water. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per 1 gallon of water. You can learn more about apple cider vinegar and chickens here.

 

Which do you think is the best chicken waterer? Leave a comment below!