Choosing the best chicken waterer for your flock is actually a little more complicated than it might seem.
There are many important aspects you will need to consider, such as the sturdiness of the unit and the number of chickens you own.
To help you find the best chicken waterer for your chickens.
I’ve looked at a variety of products and analyzed their pros and cons.
After considering all the options our top picks were…
In this article...
How to Choose the Best Chicken Waterer
When shopping for a chicken waterer, there are many considerations you need to keep in mind to ensure you get the best unit for your birds.
Let’s take a look at some of the key factors you should look at during your search for a poultry waterer.
Size and Dimensions
The size of the chicken waterer you use is one of the most important aspects as you don’t want to use one that is too big for your chicken coop or garden.
Alternatively, you don’t want a unit that is too small for the size of your flock.
Each bird should have access to plenty of water to keep them fit and healthy.
Make sure the waterer you use for your poultry is a suitable size for the space you have and the number of chickens you own.
Design and Materials
The majority of chicken waterers are made from plastic, metal, or glass. The latter come in the form of jam jars and are typically used for chicks.
Once your chicks get bigger, you can use either plastic or metal waterers.
A metal chicken waterer is a bit more expensive than a plastic unit, but it lasts a fairly long time.
This saves you money in the long run as you won’t need to replace the system as frequently as a plastic product.
Metal chicken waterers come in a variety of designs and sizes.
Some smaller units are designed to slot into a corner, while some larger systems are meant to be hung by a chain from a secure area.
The best type of poultry waterer for you depends on the size of your flock, as well as your personal preference.
A plastic chicken waterer is more lightweight than a metal unit, making it much easier to carry around and refill.
The tradeoff, however, is durability. Plastic waterers are much more likely to break than metal systems, so you’ll need to replace them fairly frequently.
Waterers made from plastic come in a lot of different types and sizes, so they’re suitable for a small or large flock.
As they’re cheaper than metal waterers, they’re a decent choice if you’re on a budget.
Bear in mind that cheap or low-quality plastic waterers are prone to breaking or cracking, particularly in cold weather.
If you want to use a plastic chicken waterer for your flock, try to purchase one that is made from thick or malleable plastic.
The quality and overall durability of the chicken waterer you use is another crucial aspect you need to consider.
The unit should be sturdy and robust enough so it can withstand the test of time, as well as make it less likely to topple over.
Metal waterers are typically more long-lasting than plastic poultry waterers as they’re less likely to snap or break.
Size of Your Poultry
The size of your chickens, as well as the amount you own, needs to be considered when choosing the best waterer for your garden or chicken coop.
Most chickens drink around a pint of water each day, though this might increase to 2 pints during hot weather or for large birds.
To ensure all your chickens have access to enough water, it’s vital you use a device that is large enough for your flock.
Using a unit that is too small means you’ll have to refill it frequently throughout the day.
It also increases the risk of dehydration or heat stress in chickens as there won’t be enough water to accommodate the size or number of chickens you own.
A waterer is at risk of freezing during cold weather or winter months, especially if it’s left outside in your garden rather than inside your chicken coop.
With this in mind, you might want to consider using an all-in-one heated unit or a heating plate.
A heating plate goes inside your metal waterer to increase the temperature of the water and prevent it from freezing.
What Is a Chicken Waterer?
A waterer is a unit or system you use to give water to your chickens.
They’re typically made from plastic or metal and come in many different varieties.
No matter which type you use, your waterer needs to be sturdy enough so it doesn’t easily topple over.
Waterers should also be designed to make it difficult for bedding or other bits of debris to pollute the water inside.
This makes sure your chickens always have access to clean water that’s free of gunk.
How Does a Chicken Waterer Work?
The way a chicken waterer works depends on the style and design of the unit.
The most common style of waterer is a gravity-fed unit, which works exactly as its name suggests. Gravity!
Due to gravity, the water in the reservoir wants to seep out through the tiny opening in the dish area.
The water is unable to do this as a low pressure zone is created in the top of the bottle by the water pull that counteracts it by drawing the water up.
How High Should a Chicken Waterer Be?
A chicken waterer should be around 6 inches above the ground, but nipple and cup units are best positioned just above beak height.
If you’re keeping chicks, then you might need to lower your waterer or get a system designed specifically for young chickens to ensure they can reach the water.
Make sure all your chickens are able to access the waterer and adjust it accordingly.
Where Should You Put A Chicken Waterer?
You should place a chicken waterer in the area your chickens use the most, whether that’s a run, coop, or a backyard.
If you let your chickens wander around a large pasture or garden, then make sure you place a waterer at each end so they don’t have to venture too far for a drink.
It’s best to use more than one waterer if you own multiple chickens to prevent any bullying birds from stopping your other chickens reaching the unit.
You should also move your chicken waterer inside your coop when it’s time for your birds to sleep so they have access to it overnight.
Types of Chicken Waterer
There are many different types of chicken waterers you can choose from, each with their highlights and drawbacks.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common varieties you’ll come across.
Standard Waterer (Gravity-fed)
A lot of chicken owners with a small flock use a gravity-fed waterer, which is essentially just a hanging waterer.
Gravity-fed waterers are extremely simple to use as you don’t need to fret about water pressure or freezing pipes in cold weather.
The main downside of a gravity-fed waterer is that you need to refill them quite regularly as they don’t hold a huge amount of water.
A nipple waterer consists of tiny plastic valves that screw into a plastic bucket or unit.
The best aspect of a nipple waterer is its hygenity.
No bedding or debris can get inside the system, so your flock will always have access to clean water.
You’ll need to train your flock to use the nipples as they only release water when the valves are touched.
This does save on leaks and spills, though.
Unfortunately, nipple waterers are at risk of freezing during cold weather.
Automatic Chicken Drinker Cups
Similar to the nipple-style waterer is the automatic chicken drinker cup.
Rather than nipples, automatic chicken waterers have drinking cups.
A central valve releases water into a cup when your chicken touches it.
Like nipple waterers, chicken drinker cups can freeze in chilly conditions.
A heated waterer is really handy during cold weather or winter months as it warms up the water to eliminate the risk of it freezing.
You can purchase all-in-one heated waterers or a heating plate.
The latter is designed for chickens owners who already own a waterer.
However, heating plates should only be used for metal waterers as they will melt plastic.
Both all-in-one units and heating plates have thermostats that automatically turn on when the temperature of the water drops too low.
Automatic Chicken Waterer
An automatic chicken waterer is very convenient as it refills itself so you don’t have to.
Automatic chicken waterers are connected to a water source like a hose pipe so your flock has access to unlimited clean drinking water.
The only downside of an automatic chicken waterer is its complicated setup.
However, once you’ve got one up and running, you don’t need to worry about your chickens running out of water.
Chick vs Adult Chicken Waterer
The main difference between adult and chick feeders or waterers is size.
Younger chickens require a smaller drinking dish so they can easily access the water.
Waterers used for chicks also need to be shallow to prevent the risk of drowning.
Waterers that can hold around a pint of water are ideal for chicks as this allows them to drink enough liquid to stay hydrated.
This capacity also makes it easy for you to refill the unit as you won’t need to lug around a huge container.
It’s a good idea to put clean pebbles or marbles inside the unit to reduce the risk of any young birds drowning.
How Much Water Does a Chicken Drink?
Most adult chickens drink around a pint of water each day, but larger birds might drink more than this.
So, if you’re using a 5-quart waterer, it will provide enough water for up to 10 chickens for a single day.
Make sure you change the water inside the waterer daily to ensure your birds stay healthy and don’t get sick.
How Can You Tell If a Chicken Is Dehydrated?
Heat stress is caused by hot temperatures, particularly when accompanied by low airspeed and high relative humidity.
It can affect chickens and other poultry, so you need to keep an eye out for signs that your chicken is dehydrated or suffering from this condition.
Causes of Stress
Other factors that can make your chicken more susceptible to heat stress are genetics, old age, feather cover, and the temperature of their drinking water.
Severe heat stress can cause your chicken to produce less or poor-quality eggs.
In extreme cases it can even cause death.
Signs that your chicken might be dehydrated or suffering from heat stress include:
- Lifting wings away from the body
- Panting or labored breathing
- Pale combs/wattles
As you can see, it’s vital you provide your chicken with shade and plenty of fresh drinking water, particularly in hot weather.
Best Chicken Waterer Reviews
Maintains a constant water flow to make sure your birds always have access to clean drinking water.
This galvanized metal chicken waterer is my overall recommendation for poultry owners as it’s both durable and effective.
It maintains a constant water flow to make sure your birds always have access to clean drinking water.
It features rolled edges and safety seams, as well as a sloped top.
The latter helps prevent roosting, so you can place it in your home chicken coop without the worry of your chickens using it as a rest area.
A great feature that adds to the robustness of this design is the lockpin that holds the outer tube in place, so it’s unlikely to topple over or get knocked around by your flock.
The unit features a double wall construction and is relatively easy to put together.
There’s even a strong handle on the inner and outer tube, which makes it a breeze to carry or refill.
However, this chicken waterer can occasionally leak as the rubber component holding the valve open is prone to eroding over time.
The interior of the unit can also rust after a few months.
- Product Dimensions: 15.2” x 15.2” x 15.2”
- Weight: 4 lbs
- Type: Gravity-fed
- Capacity: 5 Gallons (available in other sizes)
- Maintains a constant water flow
- Sloped top to prevent roosting
- Comes with handles on the inner and outer tube
- Can leak
- Interior can rust after a few months
Decent chicken waterer at an affordable price. Features a gravity-fed design that provides a consistent water flow rate ensuring your flock stays hydrated.
If you need a decent chicken waterer at an affordable price, then this plastic unit from Little Giant is a solid option.
It features a gravity-fed design that provides a consistent water flow rate ensuring your flock stays hydrated.
The waterer is made from heavy-duty polystyrene that can tolerate hot and cold weather, thus reducing the chance of it breaking.
Easy to Check For Water Levels
The water jar is transparent so the water line is always visible.
This enables you to quickly spot when the unit needs refilling.
As the unit can hold a gallon of water, it’s a good option for chicks or a small flock. The water dish is shallow, too, so there’s little risk of young chickens drowning.
Easy to Assemble
The device is incredibly simple to put together.
The water dish base can be assembled and disassembled with the container thanks to the unit’s simple screw-on design.
Unfortunately, this plastic poultry waterer does have a few flaws.
Firstly, the quality of the unit is a little flimsy, so the components can become loose or fall apart.
Secondly, the unit doesn’t come with a handle, which makes carrying it or refilling it a bit difficult.
And lastly, the device can struggle with algae growth, especially if it is left out in the sun. To help prevent this issue, consider placing the unit in a shaded area.
- Product Dimensions: 9”x 9” x 10.25”
- Weight: 8.6 oz
- Type: Gravity-fed
- Capacity: 1 Gallon
- Affordable price
- Suitable for chicks or a small flock
- Transparent water jar
- Shallow water dish – ideal for chicks!
- Easy to assemble
- Flimsy design
- Doesn’t come with a handle
- Prone to getting algae growth
It has a 100-watt heater built into the base to prevent freezing in cold weather so you don’t need to fret about your chickens’ water turning to ice during winter.
My personal favorite plastic waterer for chickens is this one from Farm Innovators as it has a 100-watt heater built into the base to prevent freezing in cold weather.
Prevents Water From Freezing
This is really useful during winter or if you live in a cool climate as you don’t need to fret about your chickens’ water turning to ice.
The heating element of the chicken waterer works by keeping water from freezing to 0°F.
This only kicks in when the temperature of the water starts to drop, so it won’t activate in warm weather conditions.
Capacity and Build
The unit can hold up to 3 gallons of water and can be filled from the bottom without needing to remove the top.
It’s relatively sturdy and durable, which prevents it from being knocked over easily.
To make it easy to use, you can use a hose or jug to refill the device.
Easy to Assemble and Use
It’s also fairly simple to put together and assemble.
Unfortunately, this chicken waterer is a little difficult to carry and turn over, especially when it is filled with water.
As the unit needs to be flipped upside down in order to fill it, this can be a little frustrating. The handle on the device is also prone to breaking.
- Product Dimensions: 12” x 16” x 12”
- Weight: 2.25 lbs
- Type: Heated Gravity-fed
- Capacity: 3 Gallons
- Built-in heater to prevent water from freezing
- Relatively sturdy
- Can be filled with water using a hose
- Easy to assemble
- Can be difficult to carry
- Handle can break easily
Made from 100% food-grade and BPA-free plastic. An automatic waterer that can easily keep your birds’ water clean and fresh.
Another great plastic waterer to get for your home coop is this one from RentACoop.
Due to it being a poultry automatic nipple waterer, it can easily keep your birds’ water clean and fresh.
The chicken waterer is made from 100% food-grade and BPA-free plastic, so it’s completely safe for your birds to use.
It can hold up to 5 gallons of water and provides enough water for 4 hens for more than 10 days.
However, make sure you change your birds’ water daily regardless to make sure they don’t get sick.
No Need To Assemble
No setup for this automatic nipple chicken waterer is necessary, so it’s completely ready to use as soon as it arrives.
There’s also a handle on the lid so you can lift it easily during refills.
The unit is very easy to fill as all you need to do is remove the cap on the lid.
The shape of the lid is specifically designed to discourage roosting, which keeps the device clean and mess free.
The style of this automatic nipple waterer ensures no debris or bedding gets inside the unit and pollutes your birds’ water.
It also means there’s hardly any spillage or mess when your chickens use the waterer, which keeps their environment clean and tidy.
Unfortunately, the handle on this automatic chicken waterer is quite easy to break, especially due to its flimsiness.
The unit itself can also start to leak over time.
- Weight: 2.1 lbs
- Type: Nipple
- Capacity: 5 Gallons
- Keeps water and environment clean
- Shape of the lid prevents roosting
- Made from food-grade and BPA-free plastic
- No setup required
- Handle can be easy to break due to flimsiness
- Can leak over time
It can hold up to 2 gallons of water and comes with 4 nipples. Due to the design of the unit, your chickens’ water is kept clean and free of any debris or dirt.
The last waterer I recommend for poultry is this one from BAFX products.
It can hold up to 2 gallons of water and comes with 4 nipples, so it’s ideal for up to 4 birds.
Easy to Setup
It’s really easy to get up and running, simply fill the bucket with water and hang it from the side of your coop or to a post.
The majority of chickens take to the system in just 30 to 60 minutes, so your flock should get the hang of it in no time.
Due to the design of the unit, your chickens’ water is kept clean and free of any debris or dirt.
The lid of the bucket has a hole that has a removable rubber stopper so you can easily refill the device.
This small hole also prevents the vacuum effect to keep the water flowing, ensuring your birds always have access to plenty of water.
There’s a 1-year warranty on this chicken waterer, too, to cover you if there are any defects or issues that occur with the unit.
However, algae can quickly grow inside the unit, particularly if it’s left out in the sun.
The nipples also aren’t the best quality, which can sometimes cause them to leak water.
Let’s take a quick look at all our top picks…
Out of all the chicken waterers I’ve looked at…
I think the best chicken waterer to use for your poultry is the Little Giant Galvanized Metal Waterer Chicken Feeder.
It maintains a steady water flow to ensure your birds stay healthy and hydrated.
It features a sloped top to prevent roosting, so you don’t need to worry about your chickens using it to perch on.
It’s also sturdy as it has a lockpin to hold the outer tube in place, making it difficult to knock over,
The device is fairly simple to assemble and comes with strong handles on the inner tube and outer tube, so you can carry it with ease.
However, the unit can leak and rust over time.
If the Little Giant metal waterer doesn’t seem like the right match for you, then I also recommend the Little Giant 1 Gallon Complete Plastic Poultry Waterer and Farm Innovators “All Seasons” Heated Chicken Waterer.
The former has a very affordable price tag, while also being easy to assemble.
It’s a great choice for chicks or small flocks as it has a shallow water dish and can hold just a gallon of water.
The latter, on the other hand, is particularly useful in cold weather as it has a heater built into the base.
It’s also simple to refill and ensures your birds’ water is always free of ice in cool temperatures.