Water for Chickens
First of all, chickens experience thirst and dehydration like the rest of us. In the hotter months of the year, it’s crucial that you check their water containers to ensure that these are still full of clean water. A dehydrated chicken is a stressed chicken and is more prone to sickness and disease. At the worst, your bird could die of salt toxicity within a few hours if fresh and clean water is not available. In winter, you should also check that their water supply has not frozen that it becomes undrinkable. If this is a persistent problem, you might have to look at installing a heater in the chicken coop to make sure that your birds continue to get their water supply.
Second, water is important for egg laying hens. They need to have easy access to it or their egg production suffers. In extreme cases of water deprivation, your hen could stop laying eggs entirely and that would be a disaster if you are raising your birds primarily for table eggs.
Third, water is important for the normal growth and development of your chicks. Even if you provide them with food, they will still suffer stunted growth if their water intake is deficient.
Fourth, you have to understand that chickens do not perspire. Hence, regulating temperature becomes difficult for them. Chickens are able to balance and regulate their body temperature despite extreme changes in the environment only if they have a sufficient supply of water.
But not all kinds of water will do. Premium importance must be given on giving your birds clean water at all times. Dirty water harbors bacteria which can cause botulism and other diseases that can afflict your chicken. Unclean water can also contain feces from chicken and other animals that can also transmit illnesses. You should also ensure that the water containers are free of algae which is a very good nesting ground for bacteria because it is is moist and makes for a perfect breeding ground.
There are different types of water containers available in the market. Choose one that your chickens cannot tip over or easily spoil with their litter and droppings. When buying a drinker for your chicks, you have to choose the right size so that they will not get drowned in (yes, young chicks do drown from deep water containers). There are drinkers that can be suspended from the roof of the coop or if you want them to be grounded, make sure that they are secured well so that they don’t easily get knocked over.
Water drinkers are either made from galvanized steel or plastic. They can hold anywhere from 4 liters to 18 liters of water for your flock. You can also make your own poultry waterer using a plastic milk or juice bottle. This is good only for smaller flock, however.
Finally, make sure that you strategically position your water containers so that they are easily accessible to your birds. Remember what chickens need and ensure you provide it to maintain optimal health