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How Much Water Do Chickens Need to Drink Per Day?

E. L. Danvers is a full-time professional writer and investigative journalist based in Southern California.

Chickens Need Drinking Water

Photo credit: Flickr/donkeycart

Photo credit: Flickr/donkeycart

There is no hard and fast rule about how much water each chicken will drink in a day. 

One thing is sure: chickens need an ample supply of fresh, clean water available at all times.  Their waterer must be clean of dirt and algae build-up, and the water must be reasonably fresh.  Most chicken owners empty and refill their waterers at least every other day, to keep the water from going stale or getting fouled with dust and algae.

A chicken’s water needs will depend on its size, age, and status.  A laying hen requires much more water than a non-laying hen or a rooster.  Eggs are at least 85% water, which is drawn from the hen’s body.  Obviously she needs to replenish that amount of water, on top of her daily normal water requirements.

Meat birds also drink more water than regular pullets, because they are growing so quickly.  Their bodies require more of everything – more feed, and more water as well.

The chicken’s diet affects the amount of water they require, as well.  A free range chicken which is consuming a lot of juicy bugs and plants will not need as much water as a chicken which eats only a dry pellet food.

The weather and climate will play a part, as well.  In hot weather, a chicken will drink more water.  Chickens which live in a very dry climate will drink more water than chickens which live in a humid climate.

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The only real way to answer this question is through direct observation.  I would err on the safe side, and budget half a gallon of water per chicken per day to start. When in doubt, always err on the side of providing too much water, rather than too little.  For example, if you have three chickens and are choosing between a one-gallon and a five-gallon waterer, buy the five-gallon.

I have four laying hens who together drink about half a gallon of water a day.  However, I live in a mild and humid climate in the Pacific Northwest.  They are in the shade most of the day, and roam about the yard in a chicken tractor.  I would take this data – sixteen ounces of water per chicken per day – as an absolute bare minimum.


Alesia on August 04, 2012:

I'm worried that my chickens aren't drinking what they ought. I have 22 chickens-7 roosters and 15 hens that are beginning to lay. In this heat 90's they are drinking total of 1/2 gallon or less for all of them. I can't cram it down their throats. I change it every single day and I also put out extra containers where they hang out and still only drink very little. What should I do?

India Arnold from Northern, California on March 04, 2011:

Great information for those who are new to the world of chickens! I'm linking in Erika, if you don't mind. Good work here.


mtsi1098 on September 11, 2010: parakeets hardly drink any water...congrats on your 100th hub...

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