As promised I’m here to review a few of the poultry watering options I’ve personally had experience with. There are certainly pros and cons to the various types, especially if you don’t have running water close by or you are unable to physically carry some of the larger volume versions. Many of the following drinkers I’m reviewing today have other volume options to suit your needs and can easily be found at your local farm supply store.
During the summer it was super easy to fill and clean any of the upcoming drinker options. Through the use of two long hoses and a stop valve at the end, water was convenient and always at the ready. For the winter I’ve had to come up with a better way to get water out to my coop since harsh conditions would quickly freeze in pipes and hoses. My answer? Drinking water cooler jugs. You can get them in 3-5 gallon volumes and the handle is super helpful when filling poultry drinkers.
Harris Farms 1 gallon Poultry Drinker & Behrens 3 gallon Utility Pan
First starting out I kept things simple and utilized the Harris Farms 1 gallon Poultry Drinker. At a cost of approximately $6.00 it was a very economical choice for my ducklings. It was an appropriate size for my brooder space and I assumed at that point I could easily add more drinkers when the need called for it. For a while I used it in my coop for those hot summer nights to keep my birds hydrated. To avoid the sloppy mess that resulted, I bought a 3 gallon Behrens Untility Pan to sit my drinker in. At just under $5 it was such a steal I bought two!
The pros, it was easy to clean, the volume was light enough to handle and it had a hanging option. It was the right depth for my little ducks and very stable while sitting on a flat surface. It was nearly perfect for that stage in my poultry raising experience.
The cons, it was sloppy. When the drinker is filled and the red bottom bowl is attached you have to flip the entire thing over in order for your birds to drink from it. This flipping process quickly had water flying everywhere. When using the hanging option, the device was easily tipped, especially by young chickens wanting to roost on it. The volume was relatively small for splashy ducklings and it would not last through an entire day as they grew bigger. Finally, it was only good only for warm weather watering.
Farm-Tuf Top-Fil 3 gallon Plastic Poultry Fountain
As my flock grew, their need for water grew with them. At $28, the cost of this fountain initially had my head spinning a bit. All considered, I felt it was a wise buy and the size would work well for my flock of 8 ducks and 1o chickens.
The pros, it had great volume, but not so great I couldn’t carry it with the sturdy handle. Once filled and capped, it didn’t leak at all when carrying it to the coop. It was fairly easy to clean, easy to fill and very stable sitting on the ground. The red drinking trough has a deep enough lip to keep the majority of water splashing contained. It fit inside my 3 gallon Behrens Utility Pan to keep coop floors absolutely dry.
The cons, the weight of 3 gallons can at times be too heavy for those with sore backs. The water dispensing ability hinges solely on the large rubber O-ring to create an air tight seal at the top. Instructions advised to oil the O-ring to extend the life of the fountain; if that breaks the fountain won’t work properly. The ridges can be difficult to scrub clean on the interior. The fount is not freeze proof due to it’s plastic construction.
Harris Farms 5 gallon Double Wall Drinker with Farm Innovators Heated Base
Knowing that none of my drinkers would serve their purpose well during the freezing cold winters here in North Dakota, I knew I had to invest in a metal drinker. The expense would be worth it but it was still a hard pill to swallow knowing that I also had to buy a heated base for it to sit on. This beauty was $35 for the drinker itself and an additional $45 for the heated base.
The pros, it’s super easy to clean and volume wise it would be adequate daily water for my entire flock. The metal construction allows for great durability and can be used with a heating base to prevent freezing. The inner walled container has a great handle convenient for carrying.
The cons, besides the expense, it’s super heavy when filled. Water leaks from the dispenser as soon as you start filling the inner liner with water. Because the drinker works on the vacuum principle with the outer cover in place, you have to either fill it close to it’s final location or risk soaked pant legs getting it there…and you can’t carry it by the outter cover handle. It doesn’t fit in my Behrens Utility Pan so I had to get creative to keep the water off the coop floors. The box on the heater base specifically states that the base is for indoor use only.
I know, this isn’t exactly a drinker but having it available for my ducks was a crucial part of keeping them hydrated. The cost was approximately $10 for the size I purchased and I would recommend keeping it small. Duck pools are grungy recepticals of poop, dirt, feathers, grass, bugs, frogs, leaves and whatever small pebbles ducks pick up. Changing water every other day helps keep things healthy and drinkable. As you can imagine, dumping an overly large pool can be a back breaker. The investment was worth seeing happy ducks cleaning, frolicking and mating near their beloved watering hole.
In summary, these were just a few of the less complicated ways to water your flock. As lead-in options they are readily available in most areas and relatively affordable. Be sure to look out for spring sales around the time you see chicks and ducklings for purchase in farm supply stores.
There are many more options out there including those that provide an endless supply of fresh water when attached to a hose. I did end up buying some chicken nipples (I’ll let you Google that one) but I haven’t utilized them at this point – perhaps next summer I can give them a try for coop watering. Also, given my duck’s love to blow bubbles in water I may look for a heated water bowl or bucket that I can use outside. I aim to keep everyone happy while ensuring I don’t end up with a skating rink in my back yard this winter!