How much water a chicken drinks each day depends on numerous factors including the bird’s size, water palatability, feed intake, feed composition, the environmental temperature, the bird’s condition of health, and whether the bird is laying.
Under normal conditions, the average chicken drinks between one and two cups of water each day. A laying hen drinks twice as much water as a non-layer. Some disease conditions cause chickens to drink more, as do rations that are high in protein or salt.
Chickens will drink less if their water contains a medication or an excessive amount of dissolved minerals they find unpalatable. Chickens can suffer kidney failure if they don’t drink enough because the water tastes bad, is dirty or too warm, frequently runs dry, or freezes. Waterers are available in a variety of styles to choose from, along with devices designed to prevent the drinking water from freezing in winter.
How much water a chicken drinks is affected to a great extent by how much feed the chicken eats. Under normal conditions, a chicken will drink approximately twice as much as it eats, by weight. A laying hen, for example, may eat 1/4 pound of feed and drink 1 cup (or 1/2 pound) of water each day.
As the temperature goes up, the ratio of water to feed also goes up, since high temperatures cause a chicken to eat less and drink more. The following estimates show how dramatically environmental temperature influences how much water a flock of chickens will drink per pound of feed they consume:
- At an environmental temperature of 60°F, chickens drink about 3½ cups of water per pound of feed.
- At a temperature of 70°F, a flock will drink about 2 pints of water per pound of feed.
- At a temperature of 80°F, chickens drink 3 pints of water per pound of feed.
- When the temperature goes up to 90°F, a flock drinks about 2½ quarts of water per pound of feed.
- When the temperature hits 100°F, a flock of chickens needs a whopping 1 gallon of water per pound of feed consumed.
Since chickens don’t drink much at one time, they need to sip water often throughout the day. A flock requires a consistent source of fresh, clean drinking water readily available year around.
And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop.
Gail Damerow, author, The Chicken Health Handbook