Most species of chickens are able to live without the need for humans intervention. They can forage for their own food and water. Therefore, chickens are a simple and easy animals to care for and raise. When it comes to rainwater, there are a lot of different opinions whether it’s safe or not for chickens.
So can chickens drink rainwater? Yes, chickens can drink rainwater and it’s perfectly safe for them. Rainwater doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals or substances and chickens can drink as much as they want without having any health issues. Actually, chickens seem to prefer rainwater over tap and filtered water. This is what they been accustomed to for thousands of years.
Is Rainwater Safe for Chickens?
Chickens have live for over thousands of years and have evolved to survive off rainwater. Therefore, it won’t harm them if your chickens are drinking rainwater from the puddles or from a bucket. Just make sure that the water is clean and it’s not infested with mosquitoes and other parasites.
Some people prefer to let their chickens drink rainwater for a couple of reasons:
- It’s natural so it won’t contain any harmful chemicals
- Doesn’t cost anything to feed rainwater to the chickens
- It’s plentiful during the spring and summer months
Can Chickens Drink Tap Water
In most cities, the tap water will usually go through a filtration process before it reaches your home. Therefore, it’s safe for humans and chickens to drink from.
Sometimes, depending on where you live, tap water is not treated and may need to be boiled first. If so, the city in which you live will have a notice instructing you to do so.
Otherwise, the water straight from the tap is perfectly fine for chickens to drink.
Collecting Rainwater For Chickens
There are a couple of methods for collecting rainwater. One of them is using a bucket and placing it under a downspout or runoff area of the roof. If you using this method, make sure the roof is made of tin or plastic coop roofs. House roof is usually shingles and these contain all kind of chemicals. When rainwater is running off them, the chemicals might leach into the water.
Another method is to use a barrel to collect rainwater. Simply put out a barrel or two and leave it to collect rainwater. Barrels come in different materials and colors. The one you want to use is the plastic barrel that’s either blue or black. Avoid clear/translucent as such could promote algae growth in the water.
When you need to give the chicken some water, simply use a cup and scoop it into their water bowl.
If you’re busy, you can install automatic chicken drinker cups at the bottom of the barrel. When the chickens want to drink some water, they’ll simply peck on the cup and freshwater will come out from the barrel.
When using a barrel to collect rainwater, it can sometimes become a problem. Since the barrel is usually large and can hold a lot of water, it makes an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes.
One of the ways to prevent mosquitoes from breeding is to keep the cover on the barrel when it’s not in use. During the rainy season, you can place a mosquito net over the opening of the barrel. That should prevent not only mosquitoes but debris such as leaves and branches from getting into the water.
The third method is to build a rain barrel system for chickens. This process involves using a gutter to collect the water and letting it run into a barrel. From there, the chickens can drink water right from the barrel by installing automatic chicken drinker cups.
If you’re handy and want to build one yourself with step by step instructions, check out Building a Rainwater Chicken Waterer.
Rainwater is clean and safe for chickens to drink for a day or so. After that, the longer it’s being standing, the water will become stagnant.
Stagnant water is a great breeding ground for mosquitoes and other parasites. During the summer months, leaving the water out for a couple of hours can get them infested with parasites.
At night, it’s usually worse. Mosquitoes are nocturnal and come out at night to feed and to breed. Therefore, if you have any water leftover in the bowl overnight, discard it and fill it with fresh water.
As for puddles, chickens are usually smart enough not to drink from it if it seems murky. However, it’s best to cover the puddles so you won’t risk the chance of them drinking from it and getting infected by parasites.
How Much Water Does a Chicken Drink in a Day?
It depends on several factors when determining how much water a chicken needs to drink. Some of the factors include the season of the year if hens are laying eggs, and the age of the chickens.
The first one is the seasons. During the spring and summer, when it’s usually warm, they will need to drink a lot of water to keep them hydrated.
Also, when the weather is warm, chickens tend to be more active. They will spend most of their days foraging for food.
During the fall and winter, the weather will get colder. During this time, the chickens will be less active and spend most of their time in the coop. Therefore, they will drink less water.
The second factor is the egg-laying hens. During this time, the hens will need a lot of water to keep them hydrated from laying eggs. Laying eggs put a lot of stress on their body.
The third one is the age of the chicken. Young chicks don’t require a lot of water due to their size. As for adult chickens, they will require a lot more water to keep them hydrated.
Chickens need plenty of water each day to remain healthy. Water is what keeps their organs functioning properly. Rainwater is no different from tap water and filtered water. It’s all safe and great to keep the chickens hydrated, especially during the summer months.