Automatic Chicken Waterers: What’s Best For Your Flock

Automatic Chicken Waterers What’s Best For Your Flock Blog Cover

Today we are going to be talking all about automatic chicken waterers.

Certainly an automatic system can save you time, but is it worth the investment? You can spend a lot of money on some of the automatic systems available, so you should try to find the best bang for your buck.

This is where our article helps.

We will explain what to consider when choosing a chicken waterer, the various types available and much more.

Take a read thought this article and decide for yourself which is going to be best for you.

Our Pick: All in One Automatic Chicken Waterer

THE BEST AUTOMATIC CHICKEN WATERER
Red Automatic Poultry Waterer LITTLE GIANT Automatic Poultry Waterer

  • Provides a constant flow of clean fresh water for your hens.
  • This waterer has a cover that stops any dirt from getting into the water.
  • Safety float to prevent water from spilling over.

See Price on Amazon

What to Consider When Choosing a Chicken Waterer?

There are a few things to consider when setting up your own automatic chicken waterer.

Firstly, how much room do you have to set it up? If you have a large area for your flock, perhaps a long piece of PVC piping with several nipples would be best. On the other hand, if space is tight, what about a 5 gallon bucket with several nipples?

Secondly, the weather. If you live in the snow-belt, weather is going to be problematic with any outside system that you have. Water can freeze in the pipes causing all sorts of problems. It can be done but it requires a lot more thought and labor.

Last but by no means least – it needs to be simple to use for you and the birds. It’s no good having a fancy system if you dread using it.

Automatic or Semi-Automatic?

An automatic waterer is something that you really don’t have to fuss with on a daily basis – something like a low pressure continuous system or a large volume holding tank which you need to check on perhaps weekly.

Whereas a semi-automatic one, is something like the regular gravity one. It requires you to tend to it daily, but the chicken can get their own water.

How Many Waterers Will I Need?

This will depend on the sort of setup you use.

Will you be using a bucket setup or PVC piping with nipples?

As a handy rule if you’re using a bucket, you should have a 5 gallon bucket for every 6 hens or so. If you have a flock of 12 hens you would need two 5 gallon buckets. This also helps to prevent bullying.

If you have a much larger flock you may want to consider the PVC solution.

The PVC piping would be suitable for a larger confined area such as a run, but the bucket system can be used if space is a bit more restricted.

Automatic Chicken Waterer Review Table

WATERER TYPE PRICE OUR RATING
LITTLE GIANT Automatic Poultry Waterer Fully Automatic Affordable 5 star rating
See Price
RentACoop Chicken Waterer with Poultry Nipples Semi-Automatic Affordable 4 star rating
See Price
Royal Rooster Chicken Waterer with Automatic Cup Semi-Automatic Expensive 4 star rating
See Price

Plastic vs Metal

Generally there are two types of materials used: plastic or metal.

Metal is very durable but you can’t add Apple Cider Vinegar to the water, it will corrode the metal.

Plastic is generally the material of choice. It is lightweight, durable and easy to replace. It does bleach out in the sun overtime but that really isn’t a big problem.

If you live in a cold climate, then you should consider metal as plastic can shatter when frozen.

Where Should I Place Them?

This will depend upon your setup, but one thing is for certain; you should never put the waterer inside the coop.

Why?

Partly because chickens are messy, they bump into it, spilling water everywhere. This constant dampness can lead to mold issues which can impact on a chickens’ health.

Also the moisture given off as vapor can cause frostbite issues in winter months.

If you have the luxury of a large barn or out building where they can wander in and out, a water system inside would be ideal. It will be kept cooler out of the sun and being inside will discourage wild birds from using it too.

If you have a coop with attached run, a waterer placed in the run will suffice. Try to place it centrally where all can access it and preferably away from food just in case there is spillage.

If your birds free range most of the time, a couple of waterers placed around the yard out of the sun (under cover if possible) will do very nicely. These would likely be free standing units not attached to your automatic system.

Types of Automatic Chicken Waterers

We have selected some different types of automatic waterers for you. There are several manufacturers that make similar items with different valves or connectors.

Fully Automatic Waterer

THE BEST AUTOMATIC CHICKEN WATERER
Red Automatic Poultry Waterer LITTLE GIANT Automatic Poultry Waterer

  • Provides a constant flow of clean fresh water for your hens.
  • This waterer has a cover that stops any dirt from getting into the water.
  • Safety float to prevent water from spilling over.

See Price on Amazon

There are a few different designs out there but they function basically the same way. They are a bowl with a valve controlled water outlet.

They are designed to fit into a standard hose pipe but you will likely need to purchase an adapter to ensure a good fit.

Hanging Semi-Automatic Waterer

Horizontal Nipple Chicken Waterer
Nipple Waterer for Hens Horizontal Nipple Chicken Waterer

  • The best style of drinker to keep your water clean
  • This is the complete system, no assembly needed
  • Built from 100% BPA free plastic

See Price on Amazon

These are similar to a regular gravity one in shape and looks.

This system consists of an enclosed water tank with nipples attached. You can use it as a stand-alone tank and fill as you would a regular gravity waterer or you can modify it.

Whilst a touch expensive, it does keep the water very clean.

They are sturdy in make and come with all the fittings you should need.

Vertical Watering Trough

THE BEST VERTICAL WATERING TROUGH
Royal Rooster Twin Waterer Royal Rooster Chicken Waterer with Automatic Cup

  • Dispenses water through two separate automatic cups.
  • Each drinker can support up to six hens.
  • The cups are up off the ground which stops dirt getting into the waterer.

See Price on Amazon

These vertical troughs are quite long and have the advantage of saving space. They have a full capacity of 1 gallon.

This item is suitable for ducks and geese also.

They work on drinker cups which automatically fill when the water level gets low.

My only concerns with this is that you might need to keep it up off the ground a little higher than 5 inches to prevent the birds from kicking muck into it.

Waterers for DIY Build (Chicken Nipples or Cups)

THE BEST CHICKEN NIPPLES
Nipple Drinker Feeder Pack of 25 Automatic Chicken Water Nipples

  • You should use one nipple for every 3 hens.
  • Ready to use; just screw directly into PVC pipe or bucket.
  • Contains pack of 25 nipples so you can make up to 12 waterers.

See Price on Amazon

If you’re building your own automatic chicken waterer you will need to fit either chicken nipples or a cup to your watering system.

Please make sure your birds know how to use these, some chickens just cannot get to grips with them.

Remember if they cannot use the nipples or cups they cannot access the water, so if in doubt; leave a regular waterer out until they get the hang of it.

THE BEST CHICKEN WATERER CUPS
Automatic Poultry Waterer Rite Farm Products 12 Pack of Automatic Cups

  • The cups are up off the ground which stops dirt getting into the waterer.
  • Ready to use; just screw directly into PVC pipe or bucket.
  • Contains pack of 12 cups suitable for around 30 hens.

See Price on Amazon

Heated Automatic Chicken Waterers

The Best Heated Chicken Waterer
Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain

  • Every chicken owners dream for winter
  • No more frozen water. Has a thermostat so only turns on when necessary
  • All in one solution: just plug it in, fill it up and it’s ready to go

See Price on Amazon

If you’re expecting very cold winters that will freeze your chickens’ water supply, then you can consider using a heated one.

It sure beats breaking the ice out of their bowl twice a day!

Even if you are using this I would still check on them twice a day to make sure they still have water. Lack of water will cause them to stop laying eggs.

Alternatives to Automatic Chicken Waterers

Best Standard Waterer for Hens
Galvanized Water Feeder Galvanized Double Wall Founts

  • Made from galvanized steel making it very durable and rust proof
  • Heavy Duty making it much harder to flip over
  • Steel construction making it compatible with heater bases

See Price on Amazon

Your choices here are either stick with gravity waterers or build your own system.

If you want to save money you can build your own.

Although building your own system sounds intimidating, it really is a cost effective solution.

There are numerous ‘how to’ videos on YouTube that show you how to put a system together. You require a few tools, PVC piping, nipples or cups and whatever else for your particular situation.

Making your own gives you the benefit of being able to customize for your area or run.

FAQs about Chicken Waterers

Chicken Waterer Nipple

How Much Water Do Chickens Need?

The amount varies, but in general a large chicken will drink a pint of water per day in winter. This can increase to 2 pints per day during the summer.

Do I Need To Clean The Waterer?

Cleaning the system regularly is a very important thing. Algae and bacteria will grow in standing water (even if it is covered) so cleaning should be done on a weekly basis. You can use either neat white vinegar or a bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach per one gallon of water).

Summary

If you have a larger flock of birds or are planning to go away for a few days, having an automatic watering system is a great idea.

Only you will know which system is right for you and your situation as everyone is different.

If like me, you live in the snow-belt, an automated system can be problematic in the colder weather so you should probably have a plan ‘B’ for the winter months.

We hope you find this useful in helping you to decide which type is best for you.

Let us know in the comments section below which waterer you chose…

GET A COPY OF OUR BOOK: BACKYARD CHICKENS
Chicken Raising Book

  • How to choose the perfect breed of chicken for you- including our top 5 beginner picks.
  • What to feed them for optimal health and egg laying, including if you’re on a tight budget.
  • From bringing your chicks home for the first time to putting eggs on the table, we’ve got it all covered.

Check Price on Amazon

Read More Eggcellent Articles

Comments

  1. Mary Reece says

    My 5 hens won’t roost at night. They sleep huddled together on the floor of their coop even though they have lots of room and 2 roosting bars to roost on. Coop is 4ft by 4ft and 4ft tall. Are they okay as is or should I try to put them on the roost

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Mary,

      Have they ever used the roosts? I’m wondering if the roosts are set too high…

      Or there could be a mite infestation on the roosts biting the hens at night…

      Claire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *