Best Waterer For Chickens (On A Homestead)

Raising chickens, whether for eggs, meat, or simply as a hobby, requires a deep understanding of their needs to ensure their health and productivity. One of the most crucial elements in poultry care is providing a consistent supply of clean, fresh water. This is where a high-quality chicken waterer comes into play.

Chicken waterers are a crucial component of caring for chickens on the homestead. Many types of waterers are available, each with different features. The one you choose should keep the water clean, hold enough water to hydrate your birds for a few days and provide water at the right temperature.

We will explore everything you need to know about chicken waterers, helping you make an informed decision that will contribute to the health and happiness of your chickens. From discussing the merits of metal versus plastic waterers to reviewing the best waterers for different flock sizes, we’ve got you covered.

What Type Of Waterer Is Best For Chickens On A Homestead?

A chicken waterer is not just a container for holding water; it’s a vital tool that can significantly impact your flock’s health and well-being. From traditional poultry drinkers to automatic chicken waterers, a wide range of options are available, each with unique features and benefits.

Choosing the right waterer can depend on several factors, such as the size of your flock, your area’s climate, and the specific needs of your chickens. For instance, a heated chicken waterer can be a lifesaver in colder climates, ensuring your chickens always have access to unfrozen water.

Whether you have a large flock that would benefit from a large-capacity, durable waterer or a small flock that needs a compact, easy-to-refill option, understanding the different types of waterers and their features is key.

What Type Of Waterer Is Best For Chickens On A Homestead?

When providing water for your chickens, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best type of waterer for your chickens largely depends on your specific circumstances, including the size of your flock, the age of your birds, and your homestead’s environment.

The following is a list of the most common types of chicken waterers and their benefits to the chickens and the chicken keeper.

  1. Nipple Waterers. These are a popular choice for many poultry keepers. Nipple waterers work by releasing water when the chicken pecks at the nipple, ensuring a clean, fresh supply of water that’s free from dirt and debris. They’re easy to refill and can be a great way to provide water for large flocks.
  2. Automatic Chicken Waterers. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, automatic chicken waterers are an excellent choice. These waterers are designed to refill themselves as your chickens drink, ensuring a constant fresh water supply. They’re particularly useful for large flocks or homesteaders who may not have the time to refill waterers daily.
  3. Heated Chicken Waterers. If you live in a region with a cold climate, heated chicken waterers can be a game-changer. These waterers are designed to keep water from freezing, ensuring your chickens can access water even in freezing temperatures.
  4. Traditional Poultry Drinkers. These are the classic, tried-and-true chicken waterers. They’re typically made from durable plastic or metal and come in various sizes. While they may require more frequent cleaning and refilling than some other options, they’re a reliable choice that can work well for any flock size.

Each waterer type has its own set of advantages, and the best one for your homestead will depend on your specific chicken coop needs and circumstances. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into the features to look for in a chicken waterer and review some of the best options for both large and small flocks.

Are Metal Or Plastic Chicken Waterers Best?

When choosing a chicken waterer, one of the first decisions you’ll need to consider is whether to go for a metal or plastic model.

Both materials have advantages and potential drawbacks, and the best choice will be unique to your chickens’ needs and circumstances.

Metal Chicken Waterers

Metal waterers, often made from galvanized steel, are known for their durability. These tough waterers can withstand the elements and are less likely to be damaged by pecking chickens or other animals.

Metal waterers also tend to be heavier, making them more stable and less likely to be knocked over. However, metal waterers can be more challenging to clean than their plastic counterparts.

The main disadvantage of metal waterers is that they can rust over time, especially if improperly maintained. Metal waterers can also become very hot in the summer or cold in the winter, affecting the water temperature.

Plastic Chicken Waterers

Plastic waterers are typically lighter, more affordable, and easier to clean and refill than metal waterers. Many plastic models are also transparent, allowing you to monitor the water level easily. Plastic waterers are often BPA-free, ensuring they’re safe for your chickens.

However, plastic waterers may not be as durable as metal ones. They can crack or break if dropped, and they may not hold up as well in extreme weather conditions. Plastic waterers can degrade over time if they are left in the sun.

Both metal and plastic chicken waterers have their merits. A metal waterer is the best choice if durability and stability are your top priorities.

A plastic waterer could be the way to go if you value ease of cleaning and affordability. Ultimately, the best waterer for your chickens is the one that best meets your flock’s needs and your homesteading circumstances.

Features To Look For In A Chicken Waterer For The Homestead

Choosing the right chicken waterer involves more than just choosing between metal and plastic. Several key features can significantly affect the waterer’s ease of use, maintenance, and overall effectiveness.

The following are some important features to look for in a chicken waterer.

  1. Large Capacity. The capacity of the waterer should be sufficient to provide enough water for your entire flock for at least a day. This ensures that your chickens always have access to fresh water, even if you can’t refill the waterer daily. Large-capacity waterers are particularly beneficial for large flocks.
  2. Easy to Clean. Chickens can be messy, and it’s important to keep their water clean to prevent the spread of disease. Look for a waterer that’s easy to clean, with removable parts or a wide opening that allows you to reach all areas.
  3. Leak-proof Design. A good chicken waterer should have a leak-proof design to prevent water wastage and keep the surrounding area dry. This is especially important for nipple waterers and automatic chicken waterers.
  4. Easy to Refill. Depending on the size of your flock, you may need to refill the waterer frequently. Look for a design that makes this task as easy as possible, such as a removable top or a design that allows you to refill the waterer without removing it from the coop.
  5. Durable. The waterer should be sturdy and durable enough to withstand the elements and the pecking of your chickens. This is where the choice between metal and plastic can come into play, as metal waterers are typically more durable than plastic ones.
  6. Weather Resistant. If the waterer is placed outside, it should be resistant to various weather conditions. Consider a heated chicken waterer for colder climates to prevent the water from freezing.
  7. BPA Free. If you’re considering a plastic waterer, ensure it’s BPA-free. This chemical can leach into water and is potentially harmful to chickens.

By considering these features when choosing a chicken waterer, you can ensure that you’re providing your flock with a reliable source of clean, fresh water that meets their needs and makes your job as a poultry keeper easier.

Best Chicken Waterers For Large Flocks

When providing water for a large flock, you need a waterer that can hold a large volume of water, is easy to refill, and can withstand the demands of many chickens. Here are some of the best chicken waterers for large flocks:

  1. RentACoop Automatic Chicken Waterer. This waterer is a great choice for large flocks due to its large capacity and automatic refilling system. It features a 5-gallon tank and a nipple drinking system that keeps the water clean and fresh. The RentACoop waterer is also easy to refill and clean, making it a convenient choice for busy poultry keepers.
  2. Harris Farms Poultry Drinker. This traditional poultry drinker can hold up to 6.25 gallons of water, making it suitable for large flocks. It’s made from durable, BPA-free plastic and features a carry handle for easy transport. The Harris Farms Drinker also has a twist-lock system to prevent leaks.
  3. Farm Innovators Heated Poultry Drinker. This heated poultry drinker is an excellent choice if you live in a cold climate. It can hold 3 gallons of water and has a built-in heater to prevent the water from freezing. The Farm Innovators heated waterer is made from durable, robust plastic and features a unique design that allows your chickens to drink from a dish rather than nipples, which some poultry keepers prefer.
  4. Little Giant Metal Poultry Fountain. This one from Little Giant is a solid choice for chicken keepers who prefer metal waterers. It’s made from heavy-duty galvanized steel for durability and can hold up to 3 gallons of water. The design of this waterer allows for a constant level of water to be maintained in the trough, ensuring your chickens always have access to water.

While every waterer has pros and cons, the best one for your large flock will depend on your specific needs and circumstances.

Whether you need a waterer that’s easy to clean, withstand freezing temperatures, or holds a large volume of water, many options are available to meet your requirements.

Best Chicken Waterers For Small Flocks

For small flocks, the best chicken waterers are compact, easy to clean, and provide a steady supply of clean water.

The following chicken waterers are some we can recommend for smaller flocks.

  1. Harris Farms Plastic Poultry Drinker. This waterer is perfect for small flocks due to its compact size and easy-to-use design. It can hold up to 2 gallons of water and is made from durable, BPA-free plastic. The waterer’s top-fill design makes refilling easy without removing it from the coop.
  2. RentACoop Chick Waterer. Specifically designed for chicks and small flocks, this waterer features a no-drown design to keep your young birds safe. It has a 1-gallon capacity and a transparent container, allowing you to monitor the water level easily. The RentACoop Chick Waterer also features a horizontal nipple system to keep the water clean.
  3. Miller Little Giant Plastic Poultry Fountain. This is a compact, gravity-fed waterer that’s perfect for small flocks. It can hold up to 3 gallons of water and is made from strong, BPA-free plastic. The Miller Little Giant gravity-fed waterer is easy to fill and clean, making it a convenient choice for small flock owners.
  4. Farm Innovators Model HPF-100 “All-Seasons” Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain. This heated waterer is a great choice for small flocks if you live in a colder climate. It can hold up to 3 gallons of water and features a built-in heater to keep the water from freezing in winter. The Farm Innovators heated waterer is also easy to fill and clean, and its thermostatic control ensures it only operates when necessary, saving energy.

These waterers are well-suited to small flocks, offering features like easy cleaning, compact size, and safe designs for young or smaller birds.

Do Chickens Like Warm Or Cold Water?

The temperature of the water you provide to your chickens can significantly impact their health and well-being. Chickens, like many animals, prefer fresh water that’s close to their own body temperature. This is typically around room temperature or slightly cooler.

In the hot summer months, chickens can become overheated, and providing them with cool water can help them regulate their body temperature. However, it’s important to note that “cool” doesn’t mean “ice cold.” Water that’s too cold can shock their system and lead to health issues.

On the other hand, chickens will still drink water in winter, but if it’s too cold, they may not drink enough to stay properly hydrated. This is why heated chicken waterers can be beneficial in cold climates. They keep the water from freezing and maintain it at a comfortable temperature for the chickens to drink.

It’s also worth noting that the temperature of the water can affect its cleanliness. Warm water can encourage the growth of algae and bacteria, so if you’re providing warm water, it’s especially important to clean the waterer regularly to keep the water fresh and safe for your chickens.

Chickens prefer fresh water fresh and around room temperature. Whether it’s the middle of a hot summer day or a cold winter night, ensuring your chickens have access to clean water at the appropriate temperature is key to their health.

Do You Need Heated Chicken Waterers?

Whether or not you need a heated chicken waterer depends largely on the climate in which you live. Chickens require a constant supply of fresh water to stay healthy and productive.

In colder climates where temperatures frequently drop below freezing, a regular waterer can quickly ice over, leaving your chickens without access to the water they need.

A heated chicken waterer is designed to keep the water from freezing, even in cold temperatures. These waterers use a built-in heating element to maintain a steady water temperature, ensuring your chickens always have access to drinkable water.

If you live in a region where the air temperature regularly drops below freezing in the winter months, a heated chicken waterer can be a valuable investment. Not only does it ensure your chickens have access to water, but it also saves you the time and effort of regularly defrosting or changing out frozen waterers.

Heated chicken waterers come in various styles, including the nipple, automatic, and traditional poultry drinkers. Brands like Farm Innovators offer reliable heated waterers that are both durable and energy-efficient.

However, it’s important to note that while heated waterers are incredibly useful, they require a nearby power source. If electricity is a concern, passive heating solutions are available, such as black rubber mats that absorb sunlight and insulating covers for water containers.

While not every chicken keeper needs a heated chicken waterer, they can be a game-changer for those in colder climates. Ensuring a consistent supply of unfrozen water can keep your flock hydrated and healthy throughout the winter months.

Best Heated Chicken Waterers

A heated chicken waterer can be a game-changer in keeping your chickens hydrated during the cold winter months.

These waterers are designed to keep the water from freezing, ensuring your chickens always have access to fresh water, even in freezing temperatures. We have selected some of the best heated chicken waterers you can try out for your chicken flock.

  1. Farm Innovators Model HPF-100 “All-Seasons” Heated Plastic Poultry Fountain. The Farm Innovators heated waterer can hold up to 3 gallons of water and features a built-in heater to keep the water from freezing. It’s easy to fill and clean, and its thermostatic control ensures it only operates when necessary, saving energy.
  2. K&H Pet Products Thermo-Poultry Waterer. This waterer’s unique dome-shaped design prevents roosting and keeps the water clean. It has a 2.5-gallon capacity and a built-in thermostat for efficient heating. The K&H waterer is also easy to fill and clean, with a removable lid and a water filter included.
  3. RentACoop Heated Poultry Waterer. RentACoop’s heated waterer features a nipple drinking system and a 0.5-gallon or 2-liter tank, making it suitable for smaller flocks. The heating element is safely located inside the base of the waterer, and the waterer is designed to keep water ice-free up to -20°F or -28°C.
  4. Harris Farms Heated Poultry Drinker Base: If you already have a metal or plastic poultry drinker you like, this heated base could be a great option. It’s designed to keep water in metal or plastic containers from freezing, allowing you to use your favorite waterer year-round.

Each of these heated chicken waterers offers a reliable solution for providing fresh, unfrozen water to your chickens during winter. Choosing a heated waterer that fits your flock’s size and your specific needs will ensure your chickens stay hydrated and healthy, no matter how cold it gets.

How To Make A DIY Chicken Waterer

If you’re on a tight budget or simply enjoy DIY projects on the homestead, you can easily make your own chicken waterer. Here’s a simple guide to creating a homemade chicken waterer using readily available materials.

Materials Needed For A DIY Chicken Waterer

The material needed to make your chicken waterer is basic and often readily available on the homestead. If you don’t have these materials on hand, they are relatively cheap to purchase from your local hardware store or farm supply store.

  1. A 5-gallon bucket with a lid. You can often get these for free or at a low cost from restaurants or bakeries.
  2. Chicken watering nipples (Available online or at your local farm supply store)
  3. A drill with an 11/32″ drill bit (many chicken watering nipple sets come with an appropriately sized drill bit)

Steps To Make A DIY Chicken Waterer

The steps to make your own chicken waters are relatively easy to complete, even with basic DIY knowledge or skills.

  1. Clean the bucket. Start by thoroughly cleaning the bucket and lid to ensure it’s safe for your chickens. Use a mild dish soap and rinse well to remove any residue.
  2. Drill the holes. Decide where you want the watering nipples to be on the bucket. They should be low enough that your shortest chicken can reach but high enough that dirt won’t easily get into them. Once you’ve decided on the placement, use your drill and 11/32″ drill bit to create holes in the bucket.
  3. Install the watering nipples. Insert the watering nipples into the holes you’ve drilled. They should screw in easily. Make sure they’re secure and that there are no leaks.
  4. Fill and test. Fill the bucket with fresh water and replace the lid. Test the waterer by tapping the nipples to make sure water comes out. If there are any leaks, you may need to tighten the nipples or seal around them with silicone.
  5. Hang or place the waterer. Finally, hang or position the waterer in your coop at a comfortable height for your chickens. You can use a sturdy rope or chain to hang the bucket from a beam or hook.

These easy steps will complete your simple, budget-friendly DIY chicken waterer. This waterer is easy to refill. Remove the lid and add water, replace the lid, and invert the waterer.

It is also easy to clean, and because the water is dispensed through the nipples, it stays clean and free of debris. This is a great option for anyone looking to save money or prefer a hands-on chicken-keeping approach.

Chicken Waterer FAQs

Many homesteaders new to chicken keeping have questions about supplying clean water to their flock. We have selected the questions we commonly hear about chicken waterers and answered them here to provide you with a complete chicken watering strategy for your flock.

1. How Often Should I Clean My Chicken Waterer?

To ensure your chickens constantly have access to clean, fresh water, you should clean your chicken waterer at least once a week. If you notice it getting dirty more quickly, you may need to clean it more often.

2. Can I Use A Heated Chicken Waterer In The Summer?

Yes, you can use a heated chicken waterer in the summer, but the heating feature won’t be necessary. Most heated waterers have a thermostatic control that only activates the heater when the temperature drops below freezing.

3. How Many Chickens Can One Waterer Support?

This depends on the capacity of the waterer. Generally, each chicken should have access to at least one quart of water daily. So, a 1-gallon waterer (4 quarts) should be sufficient for four chickens. However, having more water available is always a good idea, especially in hot weather or for larger flocks.

4. Can I Use A Regular Bucket As A Chicken Waterer?

While you can use a regular bucket to hold water for your chickens, it may not be the best option. Chickens can easily dirty the water by stepping in it or kicking bedding into it.

A bucket also doesn’t protect the water from evaporation or freezing. Whether store-bought or DIY, a dedicated chicken waterer is usually better.

5. What Should I Do If My Chickens Aren’t Using The Waterer?

If your chickens aren’t using the waterer, they may not understand how it works. This is especially common with nipple waterers.

You can train your chickens to use the waterer by tapping the nipples to show them how water comes out. Chickens learn quickly; the others will follow once one bird starts using the waterer.


Choosing the right waterer for your chickens is a crucial aspect of poultry keeping. Whether you have a large flock or a small one, live in a hot climate or a cold one, the right waterer can make a substantial difference in the health and happiness of your chickens.

The best chicken waterer for your flock is the one that meets your specific needs and circumstances. It should provide a consistent supply of clean, fresh water that’s easily accessible to all your chickens. Providing your chickens’ flock with fresh, clean water is one of the most important things you can do for their health and well-being. With the right waterer, you can ensure they always have the hydration they need.



Alice is a writer who grew up on a beautiful homestead in rural Old England. She now lives in New England with her fur babies and is on a mission to return to the land for a simpler, greener, and all-round kinder existence.

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