Spring is in the air and that means that it’s time to start thinking and getting prepped for backyard chickens! I’m going to tell you everything you have ever wanted to know and more about Chicken Waterers and how to DIY your very own from a 5 gallon bucket.
Providing animals with water to drink seems like a no brainer, but there are a lot of factors that go into watering chickens. For instance: how much water do chickens need, what type/material of waterer is best, how to keep the water clean and how to DIY a chicken waterer that is simple and cost efficient. Let’s dive in.
DIY chicken waterer and feeder from 5-gallon buckets
Water is essential for humans to survive and it is no different for chickens. Appropriate access to clean water drastically influences how healthy a chicken is and how well they produce. If a chicken does not have an ample supply of water they will actually stop laying eggs! Did you know that? Water also aids in the digestive process and helps a chicken eliminate waste.
When a chicken is sufficiently hydrated they are able to regulate their body temperature more effectively. A chicken that drinks clean, cool water also has a healthy brain. This will keep the animal in tip top shape and their mind sharper to be able to watch for predators. In short-chickens will not survive without water.
It doesn’t seem like chickens drink very much water because they just take small sips throughout the day. However, on average chickens drink about 1 pint of water per day. They will drink more if the temperature is hot. They also like cool, fresh water. If the water has been sitting out in the sun too long, hasn’t been refreshed regularly, or starts to get dirty from the chicken’s own doing- they may stop drinking. You don’t want a chicken that isn’t drinking so remedy the issue quickly.
The process of chickens drinking water is actually really fun to watch. Chickens use their tongue to push food to the back of their mouth to be swallowed but that method doesn’t work for drinking. If a chicken wants to drink water you will see them dip their beak into the water and rapidly tilt their head back to let the water drip down their throat. So you can imagine they can’t drink a whole bunch of water at once.
Keeping the water you feed your chickens clean is essential. Ideally, you should refresh their water every single day to prevent bacteria build up and algae forming. Along with changing their water every single day, I suggest sanitizing the waterer at least weekly. You can use dish soap and a brush to clean the waterer or a diluted bleach solution.
Chicken waterers can come in various shapes, sizes, dollar amounts and can be constructed from a myriad of materials. In my experience, you don’t need to break the bank providing water for chickens. As long as they have clean, fresh water and lots of it your chickens will thrive. We have used this DIY version for chicken waterers for years and have found great success with them.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Chickens typically do not need water during the night. At night, they usually sleep on their roost until morning.
You want to place your waterers in a place without direct sunlight in order to keep the water as cool as possible.
I plan for 1 large waterer per 6-8 chickens. Remember that they drink about 1 pint a day so plan accordingly.
The general rule is if it is safe enough for you to drink then your chickens can drink it too.
If a chicken is dehydrated you will want to remedy the situation quickly. When a chicken isn’t getting enough water their egg laying will slow down or could stop completely, they will become lethargic, you many notice them panting or a pale comb as well.
DIY CHICKEN WATERER AND FEEDER FROM 5-GALLON BUCKETS
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
- Two 5-gallon buckets with lids (free - they are everywhere! Really! Just ask your local sandwich shop to save you a few that the pickles come in).
- 1-inch standard drill bit or paddle drill bit
- Two large foil roasting pans ($2 - pick them up at the Dollar Store) OR these large feed pans
FOR THE DIY CHICKEN FEEDER:
Clean and empty your 5-gallon bucket. Along the bottom edge of the bucket drill 1-inch holes all the way around the bottom, spacing the holes about 2 inches apart. Place the bucket inside the foil roasting pan, right-side-up (holes in the pan), and then fill it with chicken feed. The feed will pour through the holes into the pan and as they eat, more will come out. Replace the lid to the bucket so that the chickens can't get to the food from the top (and poo in it). Easy!
FOR THE DIY CHICKEN WATERER:
Clean and empty your 5-gallon bucket. Along the bottom edge of the bucket, drill two 1-inch holes, holes opposite of each other. Place the bucket inside the foil roasting pan, right-side-up (holes in the pan), and then fill it with chicken water. Quickly replace the lid and make sure that it has an airtight seal. This seal is key!! The water will stop coming out of the holes once the water covers the holes completely if the lid is airtight. The water will keep running out of the bucket and over flow the roasting pan if there isn't a good seal. It's a hydrodynamics thing....just ask my water engineer husband; he'd gladly explain it to you.
Here's how all that looks in pictures:
What you need:
Drill some holes:
Completed DIY chicken feeder:
Completed DIY chicken water with lid (see, it's not leaking!)
UPDATE OCTOBER 2017: I've now been using these same buckets as a DIY chicken waterer and feeder for over 4 years. I have upgraded from the tin foil turkey roaster pans though. Those pans lasted about 6 weeks but I was in it for the long haul. I picked up some large (about 16 inches wide and 4 inches deep) round metal pans from our hardware store to replace the pans in these pictures. Here are similar pans on Amazon. They cost me less than $10 each and have lasted 4 years. So for $20 total, instead of $2, I have a large feeder and waterer that I've been using for years. They work great and I still highly recommend making these.
Not everyone needs a post on a DIY chicken waterer and feeder from 5-gallon buckets, but someone out there does need it! Even if you don't have your own hens yet, this might be something to store away in your "someday" file because you just never know when you might need some great info that will save you a dollar or two!