First-time chicken owners will often ask what the best temperature for their water is, or if cold water is bad for their digestion. The answer is no! As a matter of fact, chickens love cold water. Yes, these egg-laying, feathered fowl are big fans of sipping on nice cool water and will often turn away from water that is too warm.
Chickens can and prefer to drink cold water and often times dislike drinking any warm or hot water.
Water is vital for so many functions of the chickens’ metabolism, which is why it is so important to always have a clean, cool and fresh supply of water constantly available throughout all the seasons. Continue reading to learn more about your chickens and the importance of their water supply.
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Is Cold Water Bad For Chickens?
Chickens honestly prefer to drink cold water. Not only is cold water perfectly fine, it actually encourages the chickens to drink more if it stays cooler. And a well-hydrated chicken means more eggs!
Did you know that eggs are made up of over 70% water? This means that if you don’t have a properly hydrated flock then your egg supply will literally dry up.
Unfortunately, keeping a constantly cold supply of water can be taxing for you. It means that you may have to bring buckets of water or at least just dump them out and replenish your chicken’s drinking supply several times a day with fresh, cold water.
There have been several studies performed about chickens (poultry in general) and their water intake. It was found that chickens much prefer water that is cold, typically around 55℉, no matter if it was hot or cold outside.
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Should I Give My Chickens Cold Water In The Summer?
Absolutely! It’s actually recommended that you keep your flock’s drinking water cold at all times in the summer. Because chickens don’t like warm or hot water, if their waterer, fountain or bucket is in the sun or across the sweltering yard they may not visit it for drinking as much as they should be.
Water helps chickens to regulate their body temperature and if they cannot properly hydrate they can swiftly die from dehydration or heat stroke. In the summer, a chicken will drink almost 3 times the amount of feed they ingest.
Chickens drink a lot, especially when It’s hot!
It may not seem like your chickens are not drinking much but they really are, it’s just in small quantities very frequently. So never underestimate how much water your chickens can actually drink, especially during the summer months. It is good practice to have several different buckets or waterers available for your chickens to drink from.
How Can I Help Keep My Chicken’s Water Cold In The Summer?
Because water is so important in regulating a chicken’s body temperature, making sure they have something to drink that is cool when the season is hot is a key tip. Like I mentioned earlier, chickens will turn away warm or hot water. The warmer the temperature outside the more your chickens are going to drink.
In the summer, help keep your chicken’s water supply colder for longer by filling them halfway and freezing them overnight. In the morning you will top off the vessel with fresh, cold water and you will have a nice, cool drinking supply for most of the day.
Keep your chicken’s water out of the sun and in cool shady areas instead, so it doesn’t get too hot. You still may have to go and replenish the drinking supply depending on just how hot it is, even if it was frozen solid that morning. Keeping ice around can be a big help in very warm climates.
Cold Snacks Also Help Beat The Heat
Providing your chickens with other sources of cold during the summertime is helpful and fun for your chooks. Freezing fruits and vegetables that are safe for your chickens can be an excellent source of enrichment and nutrition. They will dig right into a frozen watermelon or cucumber, truly enjoying their cold and tasty snack.
Should I Give My Chickens Cold Water In The Winter?
Thankfully, their water should already be pretty cold if it is wintertime, so you shouldn’t have to worry much about that! But yes, you should try to keep their water cold, even in winter. If you are using a heating supply to keep their water source from freezing then make sure it is not set too high as they will refuse it if the water becomes too warm.
A chicken’s water intake will decrease significantly during the winter than in the summer, they will drink almost ⅓ less water when it is cold out.
Unfortunately, chickens cannot gain any fluids just by ingesting snow, so it is important that they have a constant supply of water available. In the winter, a chicken will drink about 1.5 times the amount of feed they ingest.
How Can I Keep My Chicken’s Water From Freezing?
Bowls and waterers with a heating element to keep the water from freezing are readily available at feeds stores and online. Many flock raisers, such as myself, use several of these electric devices when it is too cold outside to keep the water from freezing just by leaving it in the sun.
Heated Pet Bowl
Thankfully, chickens aren’t too picky about what their water is in, as long as it is the preferred temperature. A heated pet bowl will do the trick. It doesn’t even have to be for chickens, as long as it is heated and safe to use in your coop.
Heated Poultry Fountain
Some people will prefer to have one that is more like a traditional waterer for chickens. That’s when using a heated poultry fountain will work great. Both the heated pet howl and the fountain are capable of keeping the water from freezing at temperatures that are below 0℉.
Replacing The Water By Hand
While this is by far the more laborious method possible, it is probably the safest. By going out every 6 to 8 hours in the freezing cold and manually replacing the water you are keeping a closer eye on the chicken’s physical condition and the habitat they are in.
When you rely on an electronic device, like the heated bowls and fountains, you never know if it will have a short and cause a fire or if it will just stop working. Also, if the power, unfortunately, goes out, which it will in some areas if it gets too cold, you will have to replace the water manually anyway.
Beware The Fire Hazard
Using any electronic device in a chicken coop with potentially flammable bedding or wood shavings will always be a fire hazard. Make sure your wiring looks sound and has a protective no chew layer on the outside so the chickens can’t peck at and damage it.
The same goes for any supplemental heating that you provide in the chicken coop. Lamps are another potential fire risk.
Should I Give Them Fresh Water Every Day?
It is absolutely necessary to provide your chickens with fresh, clean water daily. Now, I’m not going to argue and say that chickens haven’t and won’t drink out of dirty puddles of water from the ground. It’s clearly not true. You are correct that chickens don’t necessarily care, but we should for their own health.
Related article: How Often Should You Give Chickens Clean Water?
Keeping The Algae Away
A puddle from the ground is most likely going to be from rain. Rainwater is totally fine for chickens to drink as long as the vessel it is stored in is free of contaminants and algae.
Plastic containers however are prone to forming a slimy green substance, that’s algae. Algae is full of harmful bacteria that can be dangerous for your chickens. Washing the containers out on a regular basis to rid them of any junk and nasty bacteria is also important for raising healthy and strong chickens.
Cold Water, More Than Just A Refreshing Drink
Chickens don’t just love and need water to help them stay cool and regulate their body temperature, but they also need it to help them aid in digestion and stool production. If a chicken is dehydrated, it will have a hard time ingesting food, as the grain will become stuck in its crop from being too dry.
Chickens will also struggle to make feces and urine, which can become unhealthy from poor digestion and lack of waste production. Always having fresh and cold water is a safe way to encourage your chickens to drink often and stay as healthy as possible.
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