The 7 Best Chicken Watering Systems, Reviewed: Which Is The Best Chicken Waterer For You?
It’s hot out. You’re thirsty. Guess what? Your flock is probably too. You want to be confident that your chicken waterer has enough water so your girls don’t die of thirst.
But how do you know?
Listen to us. We’ll explain what you need to know so you aren’t wasting your money on a waterer that won’t work for you. Read on so you can choose the best waterer to keep your flock from going thirsty.
The Top 7 Best Chicken Waterers of 2023
Chickens, like all living things, need water to survive. And it’s our job to give it to them. As backyard chicken owners, we want to know that our birds always have bountiful, clean drinking water. That’s what chicken waterers do.
So, here’s our review of the top 7 best chicken waterer reviews for your flock.
Need more details? Continue reading below. Let’s start with what we believe is THE best chicken waterer in the market today.
1. RentACoop Horizontal Side Chicken Nipples Waterer Kit – Best Chicken Waterer
- Water capacity: Depends on the container
- Max no. of chickens: 4 per nipple
Commercial poultry farms use chicken nipples (and have for years) for a reason. Because they are the best automatic chicken waterers, there are. Now we are lucky. They are available for backyard chicken owners like us.
That’s why the RentACoop Horizontal Side Chicken Nipple Waterer Kit is our pick for the best chicken waterer on the market. This nipple chicken waterer is just like the commercial ones. And there are just so many great things about them.
RentACoop chicken nipples are inexpensive and easy to use. You simply screw the nipples onto any size container you like. It can be a bucket or barrel- whatever works best for your flock. You decide.
Thirsty birds simply peck at the nipple, and it dispenses clean drinking water. So no standing water to spill or to get dirty. And when your water is cleaner, your birds are healthier.
Plus, there is less mess for you to clean up, and you can put this best chicken watering system inside the chicken coop. How great is that?
It can take a little while for your chickens to learn how to use them. But these are great for baby chicks. If they grow up with the nipples, you should have no problems.
Chicken nipples are great for everyone. Cheap, easy to install, and customizable nipples work for all types of chickens, including chicks. You can use them indoors or outside. And because there is no standing water, both the water and your chicken coop stay cleaner. Which means your chickens are healthier. I mean, really, what more could you ask for?!?!
2. Premier Heated Poultry Waterer – Best Heated Chicken Waterer
- Water capacity: 3 gallons
- Max no. chickens: 35
Frozen water means your chickens can’t drink. And no one wants that. If you live someplace with cold nights, you want the Premier Heated Poultry Waterer. It is our pick for the best heated chicken waterer on the market.
This poultry waterer is so easy to use!
The built-in thermostat turns the heater on at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and off at 60 degrees. You don’t have to do anything. Plus, it works to temperatures as low as -20. The insulated lid traps in heat, giving you peace of mind while saving electricity!
It is also super durable. It’s made from heavy-duty plastic. You can use the handle to carry and hang the waterer without worrying that it will break. Also, its unique lid design prevents chickens from roosting on top. No more poopy waterer!
The premier uses nipples to dispense the water, so you don’t have to worry about spills or dirty water – you can use it indoors too. Now you don’t have to worry about spilled water freezing in the winter either. Your chicken coop will stay nice and dry.
The Premier Heated Poultry Waterer is for folks living in cold climates. This best chicken waterer for winter will not only keep your water from freezing but also help keep your coop cleaner. The nipples mean less water to spill and less mess for you!
3. Harris Farms Double Wall Poultry Drinker – Plastic Alternative
Material: Galvanized Steel
- Water capacity: 2 / 5 gallons
- Max no. chickens: 51
Many of us strive to minimize or eliminate the use of plastic in our lives. If you don’t want your chickens drinking from a plastic waterer, check out the Harris Farms Double Wall Poultry Drinker. It is our top pick for a plastic alternative.
This waterer is made from heavy duty galvanized steel. So no chemicals are leaching into the water. It also means you won’t have to worry about it cracking or breaking from the weather like plastic waterers can.
This waterer is a traditional-style waterer with a twist. The clever double wall design helps keep your water cleaner and cooler. Combined with its larger size, that means less work for you. And even better, cleaner water means healthier and happier chickens.
There are a couple of downfalls to this waterer. It can be difficult to get the hang of filling it, which can leave you rather wet. Also, you can’t hang it. It needs to be resting on the ground or elevated onto bricks. Either way, it’s best used outside to prevent a mess.
This waterer is for someone who wants a heavy duty waterer that is not made of plastic. This traditional style waterer is large and great for outdoor use.
4. Harris Farms Top Lid Poultry Drinker – Easy to Fill Chicken Waterer
- Water capacity 3.5 / 6.25 gallons
- Max no. of chickens: 100
Are you tired of getting wet filling your chicken waterer? Then the Harris Farms Poultry Drinker- Top Lid is your best choice. It’s our pick for the easiest to fill of all the waterers out there. And here’s why.
While this drinker is a traditional-style waterer, you don’t have to screw on the bottom tray. No more struggling to get tabs into slots without spilling all the water you just filled. How amazing is that!
Instead, you just lift the lid and fill it from the top. No more spills or wet pants. Plus, it comes with a heavy-duty handle to carry it with. Even easier.
Not that you need to fill or carry this waterer around much. It holds a lot of water. It doesn’t hang, so it works best when you set it on bricks or cinder blocks to keep it elevated and level. By doing so, you can preven leaks and messes.
Once you get it set up, I’d just bring a hose over to fill it up when it’s empty. Then you don’t even need to carry it.
If you want an easy-to-fill chicken waterer, the Harris Farms Poultry Drinker Top Lid is for you. No screwing, no twisting, no tabs into slots. Just open the lid, fill with water and close it again. Done.
5. RentACoop Automatic Chicken Water Cup Waterer Kit
- Water capacity: Depends on the container
- Max no. chickens: 3 chickens per cup
Another best automatic chicken waterer is the RentACoop Automatic Chicken Water Cup Waterer Kit.
This chicken waterer system dispenses the water into cute little cups that the chickens can drink from. Using an ingenious design, the cups always stay half full, so the water always stays clean. And there is less water to spill.
Like nipples, you can use the drinker cups inside the coop and are a great choice for chicks.
You can install the drinker cups onto any container you like. You can even connect them to a PVC pipe.
However, the best option is to choose something made from food-grade, BPA-free plastic. But this allows you to customize your watering system to the needs of you and your flock.
RentACoop’s drinking cups are great if you want something automatic and customizable, but you (or your chickens) don’t like nipples. They are easy to install, easy to clean and create less mess. And really, that’s what every backyard chicken keeper needs.
6. Harris Farms Plastic Poultry Drinker
- Water capacity: 1.25 / 3.5 gallons
- Max no. chickens: 32
The Harris Farm Poultry Drinker is a classic traditional-style chicken waterer. Easy to use and inexpensive, it’s perfect for an entry-level chicken waterer. All you need to do is fill the large reservoir, attach the tray and hang it. How simple is that?
Hanging your waterer helps your water stay cleaner. But how high?
You should hang it shoulder height on your chickens to prevent debris and dirt from muddying the drinking water.
Unfortunately, when you hang your waterer, chickens tend to bump it, and the water spills. This can make a mess. So this waterer is best used outdoors to keep your coop clean and dry.
Luckily, the Harris Farms large chicken waterer is durable, just like their metal one. So there is no need to worry about the elements. And because the water level is visible, you can tell from a distance when you need to fill it. This feature keeps you from unnecessary checking- because really, who has time for that?
This waterer is best for someone who isn’t looking for a basic outside waterer. You won’t find any bells and whistles here, but it will get the job done.
7. Royal Rooster Twin Cup Drinker & Feeder Set
- Water capacity: 1 gallon
- Max no. chickens: 3 per cup
If you have a small coop, check out the Royal Rooster Twin Cup Drinker and Feeder Set. This set comes with a compact chicken waterer and a feeder.
The chicken waterer and feeder are both 20 inches tall and thin rather than wide. This feature allows you to fit them into even the tiniest urban coop. And they easily attach to your existing setup with the included brackets. It is super easy to assemble, hang, and fill. And you are ready to go.
But before you buy your feed, read what to feed chickens to make sure you are getting the best feed.
The chicken waterer comes with two drinker cups and holds a gallon of water. Just perfect for your small coop with only a few chickens.
The only drawback to this set is the price. They are a bit expensive. But if you are willing to pay a bit for convenience, this is the best chicken waterer for a small space.
The Royal Rooster Twin Cup Drinker and Feeder Set is perfect for the urban chicken owner with a small coop.
Best Chicken Waterer Buying Guide: How Do I Decide?
Answer these questions, and you will know for certain that you are buying the best chicken waterer for you and your flock!
What Size Chicken Waterer Do I Need?
This is the easiest question to answer when shopping for a chicken waterer. But first, you need to know it’s different for chicks and adult birds.
For chicks, it is simple. Being smaller, baby chicks drink less than adult birds. You only need 1 gallon of water per 100 chicks! But with only one waterer, the chicks crowd each other. The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us more waterers are better (1).
“My hatchery recommends one gallon-size waterer for every hundred chicks. I always had two or three, even for fewer chicks, so that they wouldn’t crowd.”
Check out our guide on raising baby chicks to learn more about their needs.
For adults, we base the size on basic math.
Let’s say you have ten adult chickens, and you want to refill my water every other day.
You plan that an average chicken will drink half a liter of water a day (2). That’s roughly two cups. You multiply that by the number of chickens, and you’ll get how much they drink in a day.
5 chickens X 2 cups = 10 cups a day
So if you want to refill every other day, you multiply by 2. (If you wanted to refill once a week, you would multiply by 7.)
20 cups X 2 days = 40 cups
Formula: Number of chickens X 2 cups of water X how often you want to fill = How many cups of water you need/16= How many gallons your waterer should be
Your chickens will drink 40 cups of water. But what is that in gallons, you ask? Easy. There are 16 cups in a gallon. So,
40/16= 2.5 gallons
Now you need to buy a waterer that is just 2.5 gallons or larger. Easy peasy.
Use this simple formula to buy the right poultry waterer for your flock size Now, you never have to worry that your chickens will be thirsty again.
How Do My Chickens Want To Drink?
Chicken waters come in many varieties – nipple, trough, watering cup, traditional style. Who knew there were so many different types of poultry waterers?
Don’t worry. We’ll explain all the types so you can decide which waterer is best for your chickens.
Nipple waterers are like you see in rabbit cages. The chicken simply pecks at the nipple, and water comes out. Because only a small amount of water comes out at a time, chicken nipples make less mess in your coop.
This type of chicken drinker is also perfect for baby chicks. Now you don’t have to worry about cold, wet babies getting sick and trekking through dirty water dishes. Nipples solve that problem.
With a chicken water nipple, you also know the water is always clean. In other waterers, the water can easily get dirty. You don’t want your chickens drinking dirty water any more than you want to drink it yourself (4).
“If you eat the eggs or meat of your chickens, don’t give them water you wouldn’t drink yourself.”
Another advantage is you can install it onto any size container. These are perfect if you don’t want to be constantly filling your chickens’ water.
Get a 50-gallon bucket or water tank. Attach 3 to 5 of our best chicken waterer RentACoop Horizontal Side Chicken Nipples to it. Now, you can be confident that your chickens have plenty of clean water to drink.
A trough is a reservoir that attaches to the side of your coop. You simply put water in it, and the chickens come to drink—nothing fancy at all.
Troughs are usually pretty small. They work best in small coops or chicken tractors for just a few birds.
c. Watering cups
Watering cups are exactly what they sound like, little cups for your chickens to drink from. They are great because they are always full of clean water for your chickens to drink.
They work innovatively.
As the cups fill, they slowly lower. When the cups are all the way down, the water stops. As a chicken drinks the water, the cup slowly raises. When it is all the way up, it refills with water automatically.
The cups screw into the side of the container. Each cup has a nozzle that dispenses water. Like nipples, you can install these on any size container you want. And it’s easy to install them.
d. Traditional style
Traditional-style waters are probably what you think of when you think of a chicken waterer.
They have a tray with a reservoir of water above. The tray and water reservoir screw together, and the water is gravity fed from above.
It is best to use traditional-style waterers outside of your coop. Because the water rests in a tray, it spills easily.
You should hang your traditional-style or trough waterer at shoulder height for your chickens.
Chickens scratch and peck and are great at fouling their water if it is too low. Normally you elevate this type of waterer to keep the water from getting dirty. So you want to keep your traditional waterer as high as you can.
But there are some great things about traditional waterers. You can buy them in a variety of sizes. And best of all, they are cheap. So if you want, you can get a few to accommodate the needs of your whole flock.
And you can choose either metal or plastic. This leads us to the question…
What Should My Chicken Waterer Be Made Of?
Chicken waterers are usually made of either plastic or metal. Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of the two materials so you can decide which is best for you.
Plastic is cheap, easy to clean, and non-porous. It’s hard for bacteria, viruses, and parasites to grow on plastic, so your chickens stay healthier.
If you add apple cider vinegar or garlic to your chickens’ water, you will want a plastic waterer. What? You’ve never heard of adding ACV to your chicken’s water? Watch this video from Real Simple Mama to learn what it does for chicken health.
Another advantage to plastic is that it is light. Water is heavy enough, particularly if you have a large waterer. If you don’t want to be lugging a heavy waterer around, you should consider one made of plastic.
But plastic is not without its disadvantages as well.
Many studies have shown the dangers of drinking water from plastics, particularly BPA. They are dangerous because toxins leach into the water (3). You want healthy chickens, so make sure you buy a BPA-free plastic waterer like the Harris Farms Top Lid Poultry Drinker
Another problem with plastic is durability. Cheap plastic breaks easily. The last thing you want is another broken waterer that you can’t compost. So make sure you look for heavy-duty plastic. But keep in mind, if it is outside over time, the sun will break down plastic and cause it to crack and break.
If you don’t want to use plastic for whatever reason, then look for a metal chicken waterer. Most metal chicken waterers are made out of galvanized steel.
Galvanized steel, like plastic, has its pros and cons.
Galvanized waterers tend to be heavier than plastic ones, which is both good and bad. The good thing is that it tends to make them more durable. They stand up to the weather and can take a beating outside.
On the other hand, it does mean that they are heavier to lug around full of water.
Metal waterers are also a great option if you are looking to heat your water in winter to prevent it from freezing. Check out this article for more tips on how to keep chicken water from freezing.
The one big downside to galvanized steel waterers is that you can’t add apple cider vinegar or garlic to your chicken’s water. If that is important to you, you will need to go with a plastic option.
Yes, you should hang your chicken waterer. If you can not hang it, you should suspend it above ground in some fashion to help keep the water clean. Some models do come with feet to keep the waterer off the ground. If you cannot hang your waterer, you can elevate it with bricks or cinder blocks. It should be at shoulder height for your chickens.
You can keep your chickens’ water cleaner by elevating your waterer. It should be at shoulder height for your chickens. Then chickens are less likely to kick dirt and other debris (like poop) into the water. Changing your water more frequently will also help keep it cleaner.
You can stop your chickens from spilling water by changing the style of waterer you are using. Nipples and watering cups are both great solutions. . A nipple waterer dispenses water only when a chicken is drinking, so there isn’t any water to spill. Watering cups are similar. Each cup only holds a small amount of water at a time. So there is less water to spill.
- Raising Chickens 101: How To Raise Baby Chickens – The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved from – https://www.almanac.com/raising-chickens-101-raising-baby-chicks
- Is My Flock Drinking Enough? Proper Hydration For Chickens – Hobby Farms. Retrieved from – https://www.hobbyfarms.com/is-my-flock-drinking-enough-proper-hydration-for-chickens/
- 7 Types of Plastic Wreaking Havoc on Our Health- Eco-watch. Retrieved from – https://www.ecowatch.com/7-types-of-plastic-wreaking-havoc-on-our-health-1882198584.html
- Safety Check: 4 Water Sources for Your Chickens – Hobby Farms. Retrieved from – https://www.hobbyfarms.com/safety-check-4-water-sources-for-your-chickens/
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.