When setting up a chicken coop (or upgrading one to make your life a bit easier), there are so many things to consider. Where will your chickens roost? Should I get automatic chicken feeders? Do my chickens need chicken toys? What is the best bedding material for chickens? Should I get an automatic chicken coop door opener that automatically opens and closes for me? How do I choose the best chicken waterer?
There is one thing a seasoned chicken owner knows, and the easier it is on you as the chicken keeper, the happier you are! Isn't it true? So today, we are going to share the best chicken coop waterers based on our own experience as chicken keepers.
What To Consider When Looking For A Chicken Coop Waterer
There are many things to consider when you start looking into a good chicken coop waterer, especially considering your needs.
Here are some points to consider for your chicken waterer:
What is your flock size?
Do you plan on expanding your flock in the near future?
Will baby chicks need access to the same water reservoir?
Will your water be in direct sunlight or will you have it in the coop?
How many water sources will you need?
Do you have ducks that will need access to this waterer?
Will you need to heat your waterer in the winter?
We will talk about what to consider for each of these points above in the next several paragraphs before getting into our recommendations for the best chicken waterers for your flock.
Let's get into it!
Best Chicken Waterers | Automatic, Heated & More
Let's first start by talking about some of the above points when considering the best chicken waterer for your backyard chickens.
What Is Your Flock Size And How Many Waterers Will You Need?
Fresh water is the most important factor in maintaining the health of your chickens. Poultry need to have constant access to fresh drinking water as their bodies need that to produce those daily eggs as well as for their joint health, and many more reasons. Here is what a study on water quality for poultry from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has to say about why chickens need so much water:
Water is the most important nutrient for poultry. In addition to being a nutrient, water also softens food and carries it through the body, aids in digestion and absorption, and cools the body as it evaporates through the bird’s lungs and air sacs. Water helps remove waste, lubricates joints, is a major component of blood, and a necessary medium for many chemical reactions that help form meat and eggs [...] Under normal conditions, chickens will consume, by weight, approximately twice as much water as food. During periods of extreme heat stress, water requirements may easily quadruple.
In this document, they have a table stating how much water your chickens should be consuming. Their table shows drinking water in gallons/100 birds/ day depending on what type of poultry you are keeping (layers, broilers, etc).
Here is that table:
So according to this, if you have layer hens like we do and assuming they are mature birds, they will need 5.55 gallons/100 birds/day in normal ambient temperatures.
So if you have 10 mature layer hens in normal, ambient temperatures, you will need to provide them with .55 (a bit more than half) a gallon of water a day.
You can purchase one waterer that has a large water capacity, or you can go with multiple waterers if you see one here that is perfect for your needs.
So take that into consideration of how large of a poultry waterer you will need, and maybe how many you will need, and keep this in mind if you plan on expanding your flock size in the near future. It is nice when you have the same style of waterers, so we recommend buying them all at once if you have plans of expanding.
Will Baby Chicks Need Access To Your Chicken Waterer?
If you have baby chicks or are planning on it, you may want to keep them in a different area than your main chickens, especially if you have a poultry waterer with an open trough style that they could possibly fall into. We have separate baby chick waterers specifically for this reason, and also for the fact that when these chicks are first born, we add vitamins to their water for the first few days to give them that boost.
Anyways, if you do plan on keeping your chicks and chickens together, look for a waterer that the bay chicks can access but won't be able to fall into.
Will Your Waterer Be In Direct Sunlight?
This is an important point to consider for the material of your waterer. If it is plastic, you may not want it in the sunlight as you will start to get things growing in your water.
In an article titled Reducing the Algae in Your Livestock Water Tanks by NC State University, they say:
In order to grow, algae need sunlight, water, and a nutrient source. This nutrient source can be anything from organic material that has blown into the tank, manure, or even your animals’ saliva.
I clean out my waterer quite often for my backyard flock, and I am always finding rogue feathers and other things in it, and organic material can even get up into a nipple watering system as well. So we can try to keep the organic material down all we want, but honestly, that is a bit out of our control with an open water source at the base of our metal waterer.
What we can control is the secondary factor to algae growing in our waterer: sunlight. The article continues:
One of the simplest methods of algae reduction is to put the water tanks in the shade. With limited sunlight, the growth of the algae will be limited. It will not remove the algae, or even stop growth completely, but it will definitely slow it down. The best shade is something like a shed or a barn, but if that is not possible even positioning the tank under a tree can cut down on the total amount of sunlight.
With this in mind, if you have a waterer that is permanently located outside, you may consider a metal water reservoir to help keep that sunlight out.
Will Ducks Be Accessing Your Chicken Water Also?
Ducks are the most entertaining poultry in my opinion. They have such personalities and are just absolutely hilarious to watch in the backyard. Well they bring that personality right to the waterer as well. If you have a trough style watering system that is located inside your coop, those ducks will get in there and totally splash around. This would mean many things including:
Water would make the floor of your coop wet
In the winter, spilled water may turn to ice and be slippery (depending on where you are)
Whether your trough style watering system in inside a coop or outdoors, it will mean refilling it more often
Those are just some points to consider if you have ducks. They love water, they can't help it!
Here is a photo of my little duckies, I swear one has a smile on her face as I spray her with my garden hose. They WILL splash around the drinking water if they can.
Will You Need To Heat Your Waterer In The Winter?
There are some waterers that are heated, and there are others that can be heated. We have had chickens when we lived in the subarctic and found some great solutions for heating chicken waterers, and we will be sure to mention if the waterers we list below are heated, or if they can be heated.
The last thing you want is for your chicken's water to freeze on a cold day and not realize it.
Let's get into the list of the best chicken waterers.
Best Chicken Waterers
See all poultry waterers available on Amazon here (*opens in a new window to compare as you read)
Considering all of our points above, we are going to look at which chicken waterer is right for you and your flock.
Chickens drink a lot of fresh water, and they need access to a device that is easy for them to access this fresh water, as well as one that is good for you as well.
We will look at automatic waterers, metal waterers, plastic waterers (bpa free plastic options and food grade plastic), heated waterers, nipple waterers, cup systems and more.
1. Harris Farms Galvanized Steel Double Wall Automatic Chicken Waterer
Check price on Amazon here (choose between a 2 gallon or 5 gallon system)
This is the exact style of waterer that we have, and that we have had for many many years with our backyard chickens. I personally really like double wall metal waterers.
Because it is a double wall system, it helps keep the water cool in the hot months, and because it is heavy duty galvanized steel, it won't let sunlight through and create mold or green water.
The way this watering system works is by a vacuum seal. After you fill this waterer up, you place the second wall over this one and as it goes down and over the first wall, it creates a vacuum so when you chickens drink and water leaves, it keeps the water continuously full.
Hard to explain I guess if you have never seen this system, but the exposed water ring will always have water in it for your chickens is what I am trying to say.
This is one where you may want to keep the ducks away as the fresh water at the bottom is exposed and those ducks will love to get in there and splash it around. We have had this watering system with chickens and ducks together, it worked fine but yes, the ducks did splash it around and we had to refill it way more often.
Because this reservoir is made of heavy duty galvanized metal, you can place a heater under it in the winter if it gets cold enough where you worry about the water freezing. In fact, I would recommend having a pad heater or a base heater on hand if you decide to purchase this poultry waterer as they are not expensive and you can't predict the winter you will have.
Summary of this chicken waterer:
Choose between 2-5 gallon sizes
Galvanized Steel with sturdy carrying handle
Automatic: water refills at bottom from vacuum
Won't be affected by sunlight
Ducks will make a mess with this one
Automatically fills water for chickens from basin
Can be used with a heater during cold months to keep water from freezing
2. Farm Tuff Top Fill 5 Gallon Automatic Poultry Waterer
This is a polyethylene water jug that has a capacity of 5 gallons, like the metal option above. The top of this watering device snaps into place and creates a vacuum inside so the fresh water is a continuous source for your chickens until it runs out of the reservoir.
Once you remove the cap, it stops the vacuum and you can refill it.
Because this is a plastic water reservoir, if left in the sunlight it may produce algae in it, resulting in a green tinge in your water.
Also because this is plastic, we would not recommend getting a separate water heater to keep the water from freezing in cold climates. If this is something you need, we would rather recommend a metal waterer or a heated waterer.
Summary of this chicken waterer:
5 Gallon bucket
Automatic chicken waterer
Plastic composition (made of polyethylene)
Exposed water reservoir at bottom so ducks will splash the water out if used for them as well
Sunlight will penetrate and can encourage algae growth if left outdoors
Not compatible with water heater for cold temperatures
3. Harris Farms Cup-A-Water Hanging Automatic Poultry Waterer
Here is a waterer that you can hang inside your chicken coop. This is similar to a nipple system of watering, but your chickens get individual cups to drink from.
This may be a good option if you also have ducks, as there is not a lot of fresh water for them to get their beak into and splash around; yet, they will be able to drink from it easily.
The plastic material is BPA-free and the lid is a hinged system so you can easily fill it.
This is a design that you can also place outside of your chicken fence and have the drinking cups on the inside, meaning you can easily refill the water from the outside without having to go into the chicken run.
Summary of this chicken waterer:
4 Gallon bucket
Plastic composition; BPA-free
Can be placed outside of the chicken fence with the cups on the inside of the run
Good for chickens and ducks
Can grow algae in it due to the plastic composition allowing sunlight to get in
Unable to heat in cold temperatures
4. Premier 3 Gallon Heated Chicken Waterer
If you are looking for a heated chicken waterer, this is a great option for you. It has a 16 foot grounded electrical cord that is detachable for summer and hot months. It can easily be reattached in the cold months and will plug right back in.
Having a heated chicken waterer that is ready to go when those cold temperatures hit is extremely handy.
The plastic container holds 3 gallons of water and has nipple style attachments that all poultry can access. It is also designed so birds cannot perch on top of the lid, which can sometimes be a problem.
The lid, which is an interlocking style, has a handle style top as well meaning you can hang this waterer inside (or outside) the coop, or you can place on on the ground for drinking.
If you want to see this waterer in action, Premier has a great little video in their product listing (in with their product photos) showing how they trained a rooster to drink from their system.
This heated chicken waterer also has a built-in thermostat which will turn the heating element on at 40F, and off at 60F.
Summary of this chicken waterer
3 Gallon bucket
Plastic but won't let light through (won't promote algae growth)
Can hang or sit on the ground
Interlocking lid that is conical shaped to prevent chickens from perching
Nipple style automatic drinking design; good for chickens, ducks and turkeys
Heated with detachable 16 ft. grounded cord (can remove during warm months)
Built in thermostat: turns on at 40F, turns off at 60F
100 Watt heater
5. OverEZ Automatic Chicken Waterer Large 12 Gallon Water Dispenser
This large design, high capacity water reservoir is about as big of a chicken waterer as you can get for a backyard coop.
It is made of plastic but is not a transparent plastic, meaning it will not promote the growth of algae if located outdoors and in the sun. The plastic is also BPA-free, UV protected and is food-safe.
If you are wanting an environmentally conscious coop, this automatic waterer for chickens is made from recyclable plastic.
This is a drinking system that has three stations, allowing more than one chicken to drink at a time. Because it is a drip system, it won't collect debris and feathers which will also help it keep clean longer, and this is a design that is made to be easy to clean. Simply place it on the ground, take off the lid and wash it out.
You can watch the video in the product listing of how this chicken waterer works:
If you are looking for a large chicken waterer that is also heated, this one has a power cord access port for additional accessories such as de-icers and circulation pumps.
Summary of this chicken waterer:
Large (12 gallon bucket)
Made from BPA free plastic that is recyclable
Is UV Protected
It is food safe
Drip system: good for chickens, ducks and turkeys
Easy to clean
We hope you found this article helpful and that you found the perfect waterer for your coop. No matter how many chickens you have, there are options here for any size of flock. You could always purchase multiple waterers if you found one here that you love the design of, that is typically what commercial chicken keepers do.
Just remember, it is so important for chickens to drink water, and there are so many options to choose from when it comes to chicken supplies. What is best for you and your coop may not be best for your neighbor, so check out these automatic poultry waterers, the hanging waterers, and look at all of the options.
Chicken Waterer Summary
It is important to know what kind of chicken or poultry waterer will make your life easy. Things to look for include:
- What material is it made from?
- Is it heated?
- Can it be heated in cold weather?
- How much water can it hold?
- What style drinking system is it: open? nipple? cup?
- Is it easy to clean?
- Does it hang or sit on the floor?
- Is it metal or plastic (and is the plastic BPA-free, food grade, recyclable, etc)
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