Chicken waterers are an essential part of your equipment for flock care. You can find them in farm stores and online – but so many choices, which do you choose?
We are here to help you decide which will be the best type for your flock and your circumstances.
You have gravity waterers, nipples waterers, chicken cups, automatics but which one is best?
In this article, we will explain the pros and cons of each to help you pick the best poultry waterer for your flock.
5 Best Chicken Waterers Reviewed in this Guide
|Best Chicken Waterers
|Harris Farms Poultry Drinker
|RentACoop Nipple Chicken Waterer
|Harris Farms Poultry Drinker
|Automatic Chicken Waterer
|K&H Pet Products Thermal-Bowl Cat & Dog Outdoor Heated Water Bowl
Types of Poultry Waterers
There are a few popular types of waterers available and we are going to talk about the good and bad points of each.
This way you can figure out what is best for your flock.
We will walk through them all:
- Gravity Traditional Fill Waterer (on ground or hanging)
- Nipple Waterer
- Chicken Cup Waterer
- Winter Chicken Waterer
Best Overall Chicken Waterer: Traditional Gravity Fill Waterer
|Best Standard Waterer for Hens
|Miller Galvanized Poultry Fountain
These are the most common type you will see in backyards.
An upturned ‘bell’ waterer hung from a chain or standing on a firm base is probably the most prevalent and cheap waterer available.
Available in plastic or metal they vary in capacity so you should have no difficulty in finding something suitable for you and the flock.
I use a 3-gallon waterer for my egg flock all the time and the only drawback is you have to check or fill them daily, especially in summer.
Personally, I don’t mind this as I get to spend time with the girls, but if you are pressed for time it can be a nuisance.
They are easy to use and useful for small flocks however this one doesn’t hang so you have to stand them on blocks so the birds don’t fill the trough with dirt.
I have used these and my biggest complaint is they are not suitable for winter use. The plastic becomes brittle and cracks very easily.
Best Value Chicken Waterer: Harris Farms Poultry Drinker
|Best Value Chicken Waterer
|Harris Farms Poultry Drinker
This is similar to the galvanized version, but as I said before in my personal experience is they wear over time.
Especially during the winter, the plastic becomes easier to crack and break.
I know people who use it and have had no issues as well. It costs more than the Galvanized steel option obviously because it holds 6.25 gallons.
Since plastic does not insulate during the winter, you can get the compatible heating plate that comes with it.
Most Sanitary Chicken Waterer: RentaCoop Horizontal Nipple Chicken Waterer
|Horizontal Nipple Chicken Waterer
The biggest advantage of using this type of waterer is that it keeps the water fresh and clean!
With this waterer just make sure to change the water at least weekly, more often in hotter months.
This 5-gallon unit will take care of a good-sized flock for several days – providing they can get along with chicken nipples. Not all birds can so make sure yours can.
It seems well made and has a ‘no roost’ lid; this keeps the lid free from poop. The water inside the bucket is of course kept clean and debris free.
Most Customizable Chicken Waterer: Chicken Cup Waterer
|Most Customizable Chicken Waterer
This is basically the same as the nipple waterer except that it has drinking cups instead. On top of that, this is not a chicken waterer, rather a drinking cup you can DIY onto any water-filled container.
If your chickens are struggling with the nipples, then this is a great alternative.
The only drawback to these is that the cups collected dirt and the cups stick out from the bucket quite a bit. So if the chickens bump into them the cups tend to flip over and spill the contents.
You would need at least two for a flock of 10 hens or more.
Best Chicken Waterer For Winter
Yes, this is a dog bowl. We used to recommend a hanging heated one, but with several including myself found it complicated to have to fill it up every few days.
So here I am recommending this dog bowl instead. It holds plenty of water and yes you’ll have to clean it periodically, but you will find it the cheapest option and it works.
I am someone who has a dog and chickens so it serves two purposes.
3 Key Considerations When Choosing a Poultry Waterer
What sort of waterer you need for your flock will depend on a few different things:
- How many birds you have?
- Standard or bantam or chicks (we will discuss chicks separately)
- Are they all in one coop?
When you have answered these three questions then you can better choose which type is right for you.
Ideally you should have one waterer for every 6-8 birds. If you have some timid birds who get pushed aside by the others, two waterers is advised. This way they can drink in peace and not be pushed away.
Birds will drink a pint per day, if the weather is hot you can increase that to two pints, so it is no good buying a two quart waterer for 10 birds – you will be refilling it all day! 10 chickens will drink 10 pints (5 quarts) daily, so this is the minimum size of the waterer needed.
This figure will double in summer months. You should also add in a couple of pints for evaporation in hotter months.
Bantams drink slightly less but if you allow a pint for them you will have it covered nicely.
There should be at least one waterer per chicken coop/run and if your hens free range, a waterer in the pasture would be a good idea.
FAQs about Poultry Waterers
Q: My chickens won’t use the drinking cups – why?
A: If your birds have not been raised with either the cups or nipples, it can be difficult to get them to change over.
This is something that they learn best when they are young.
You will have to demonstrate to them how it works. Always have a second ordinary waterer on hand so they don’t dehydrate.
Q: How high should I place the waterer?
A: Shoulder height for your smallest bird. If you have a mixed flock of bantams and standards, it will be as high as the bantams’ shoulders.
Q: My birds keep kicking dirt into the water what can I do?
A: Is your waterer too low? If so raise it a bit higher. Can you move it to a less dusty place, or place a large shallow tray or pan underneath.
Q: Where should I hang my waterer?
A: Outside the coop is recommended. A waterer inside the coop will lead to wet bedding and other problems.
In the run is a great place, the chickens will use it first thing when they get up.
Q: Will the automatic waterers work in winter?
A: If you live in an area that stays above freezing in the winter, then yes. If it’s below freezing, then no. You will have to use a heated waterer.
Q: Can I use apple cider vinegar in metal waterers?
A: It is not advised. The acid will eat away at the metal and corrode it over time.
Q: I have a couple of birds that get picked on so they don’t drink.
A: Supply two or three waterers and place them far apart from each other. This way the bullies won’t be able to guard all the water – do the same with feeders too.
Do your homework and browse the internet, you may find something that suits your purpose much better and maybe cheaper!
The downside with most of the automatic watering systems is winter. Here in northern New York, everything usually freezes from late November to March.
As a result I tend to use heated waterers or use heating plates for the metal waterers.
I used to carry buckets of water 2 or 3 times each day until I got smart and devised an electrical solution, now I check on them once a day and top up as needed.
Let us know which poultry waterer you use in the comments section below…
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