Chickens need clean and fresh water for optimal health and without it they will get sick quickly. But chickens are messy creatures, and they will not keep their water clean. They tend to flick dirt, debris and dust into their fresh water, and they may even use it as a bathroom! We will take a closer look at how to keep chicken water clean in your coop.
The Importance of having Clean Water for Chickens:
All poultry owners need to provide a consistent source of clean and fresh water to keep their flock healthy and productive. Clean drinking water allows the birds to regulate their body temperature and to digest their food properly.
A laying hen needs fresh water because the eggs that they create are by weight 74% water! Drinking water that’s contaminated will have serious consequences for the health of your chickens and their egg production.
A chicken will naturally scratch at the earth to locate bugs and seeds to supplement their diet. This tends to soil a simple pan of water that’s exposed to the open air as droppings and dirt fall into the water.
Chickens will consume less water, if it’s dirty, this causes heat stress and a drop in egg production. In extreme cases, the chickens may stop laying eggs entirely.
Regularly Change Your Chickens Water
When people wonder about how to keep chicken water clean, their first instinct is to change the water regularly. If the water pan is in a location where it’s soiled quickly due to scratching and dust bathing it may be a good idea to move it. Dirty chicken water may be great for your plants, but it should be drained, and the pan cleaned before it’s returned to the chickens. Topping up dirty drinking water is a bad idea, and you will notice that the birds are not drinking adequate volumes to stay fit, healthy and productive.
Let’s look at three tips to keep chicken drinking water clean:
- Chicken Waterer Height: The chicken waterer should be set at the shoulder height of your smallest chicken to keep the amount of dirt and debris levels lower.
- Stay in the Shade: The chicken waterers should be placed in the shade to keep the water cool and to minimize algae growth.
- Dark Water Containers: A dark water container will also block out the sun to slow the potential growth of algae.
Baby chicks need their water cleaned and replenished throughout the entire day because they are exceptionally skilled at making clean water dirty. The larger chicken waterers have sufficient volumes to provide water for a whole flock for an entire day but the troughs should be cleaned daily and changed out every other day. This is important to prevent the growth of algae and mold. If you notice visible growth of these then sanitation of the water bowl is essential .
Consider an Automatic Chicken Waterer
One of the most effective ways to keep chicken water clean is to consider using an automatic chicken waterer. Automatic waterers are designed so that chickens will have constant access to clean water. A float system ensures that the waterer maintains a set level. A pressure watering system is required for an automatic waterer to work. This not only satisfies your chickens’ needs but eliminates water waste. This means that regardless of the weather, your chickens can enjoy cool, clean water.
These innovative devices are available in a variety of styles to suit different chicken coop needs. There are waterers available in plastic and metal, but all are food grade. There are also different sizes to accommodate a smaller or larger coop.
If you opt for a bigger capacity unit, you will need to fill it less frequently. However, if you only have a few chickens, a large unit may be to big for your needs.
Even though these types of waterers are automatic, they still need to be regularly cleaned, so as to continue to supply cool clean water for your chickens.
How to Clean the Different Types of Poultry Waterers
A dedicated chicken waterer should be scrubbed daily and sanitized weekly or more frequently if mold growth is observed. When the weather turns hot, it’s important to replenish the water source multiple times per day and daily scrubbing is recommended. Remember that mold grows faster in hotter conditions, and this is especially true if the waterer is in direct sunlight.
Let’s take a closer look at how to clean and sanitize a plastic and metal chicken waterer:
1/ Plastic Waterer
A plastic chicken waterer should be scrubbed with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water with a narrow stiff scrubbing brush that can fit into the small crevices. If you have a 5-gallon waterer it’s advisable to add 1 tbs of liquid bleach or ACV and a spray bottle mix can be used to spray the container exteriors.
Spray and scrub every nook and cranny to remove any dirt, debris and mold that may be lurking there. Then thoroughly rinse those areas with clean and fresh water and allow the surfaces to dry for 10-15 minutes in the sun. This should kill any remaining bacteria and then you do a final rinse and refill the waterer.
2/ Metal Waterer
They are usually made from double coated galvanized steel and the best way to clean and sanitize them is with mild dish soap, warm water and a soft sponge. Don’t use acidic liquids such as ACV. If you want to boost the natural probiotics with ACV use a plastic waterer.
Bleach should not be used, it can cause corrosion issues and those rust particles will be released into the drinking water. Avoid using a hard brush or steel wool because they compromise the metal surface which can release toxic zinc into the water.
The best way to clean a metal waterer is to rinse it with very warm water, add 1 tsp of mild dish soap and then gently scrub with a soft sponge. Once the surface is clean, rinse it and then refill with clean drinking water.
How to Keep Algae Out of Chicken Water
Keep the waterer out of direct sunlight, use dark containers and add 1 tbs of ACV to each gallon of drinking water. Baby chicks tend to perch and roost on the top of the water where they feel safe, but they tend to poop in the water which can promote algae growth.
Placing a small funnel at the top of waterers and food containers will prevent perching in those locations. If you place some taller perches in other areas the chicks will gravitate to them and leave the waterers alone.
Place water sources off to the side away from the heat, raise them off the ground, but no higher than your smallest chicks.
Watch Out for Deadly Blue-Green Algae
Blue-green algae can be toxic, but not always and if you have it on your property it’s a good idea to get a sample tested. If your chickens are free range near ponds, lakes, creek beds or other areas it’s important to be aware of algae sources.
Deadly blue-green algae can be found on stagnant water in chicken waterers that have not been cleaned and have been exposed to hot sunshine for prolonged periods, but this is rare. If you identify algae, it should be cleaned, and chickens should be kept away from it.
Conclusion: How to Keep Chicken Water Clean
Hopefully you now have a better idea on how to keep chicken water clean to keep your flock fit, healthy and productive. Daily cleaning, weekly sanitizing and following the tips in this article will help. Avoid using harsh cleaners because they can compromise the water quality. Free-range chickens need to be kept away from blue-green algae.