Do Chickens Need Water at Night? Or Can They Wait Until Morning?

While the Northern Hemisphere is in the grips of winter, here in South Africa, we’re quietly sweltering. The temperature doesn’t drop much at night either, and as I’m a natural worrier (not warrior), these warm nights have me tossing and turning as I wonder whether my chickens need water at night.

Our small coop leaves little room for a water container. I also find my chickens are exceedingly messy and manage to get most of the water on the floor and the waterer full of bedding. Am I depriving my poor hens, or are they happy to spend the night without water?

Do Chickens Need Water at Night?

We advise that you provide your chickens with water at all times! But – we also find that our chickens rarely eat (or drink) once they settle in for the night. A broody hen might have an occasional night-time drink, but most chickens will happily sleep until morning, only slaking their thirst when the sun rises.

two thirsty chickens drinking water from a bowl
We believe that providing clean water is essential to your flock’s health and well-being. Even at night! Ensure that your chickens have constant access to fresh, clean water – doubly so in the warm weather. Try to keep your flock cool! Your well-hydrated (and relaxed) flock will thank you!

When Do Chickens Drink?

My hens always drink first thing in the morning. Every morning, they gather around their waterer like a gaggle of office workers around a water cooler. 

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Like us, chickens will drink more water when it’s hot outside. Chickens regulate their body temperature by using the respiratory system to evaporate water. That’s the same water they lose when panting! Therefore, their water levels need replenishing to maintain their body-water balance. 

Chickens also need water to aid their digestive process, transport nutrients, and lubricate their joints and organs.

Chickens will drink throughout the day, but how much will depend on their breed and size. Environmental factors also play a role.

According to the Poultry Drinking Water Primer published by the University of Georgia, some broiler breeds drink roughly 1.6 to 2.0 times more water than feed! In other words – chickens might drink twice as much water as they consume food.

So – how many milliliters is that, exactly? Well – we’d rather keep things simple!

Rather than spending hours performing complex calculations, the best thing is to provide your chickens with more water than they need. My flock of 13 gets 10 liters of water a day, even though they’ll rarely drink more than around 6.5. 

My hens are free-range. However, they will drink more than hens kept in an enclosure simply because they’re more active. 

Every morning, we empty and refill our chicken waterer so that our chickens have fresh, clean drinking water every day.

They never run out – but we keep an eye on things and replace the old water with fresh water.

Daily!

Read More – Can Chickens Eat Maggots? You Won’t Believe Our Answer!

How Do Chickens Drink?

Chickens use their tongues to push food towards the back of their mouths, from where it enters the crop and digestion begins. 

When chickens drink, however, they rely entirely on gravity. They tip their beaks into the water first. Then the chickens tilt their heads back, allowing the water to drip down their throats. In other words, they look like a rugby team quaffing the first beers after a match. 

Studies show that, much like rugby players, chickens modify their drinking behavior as they get to grips with it. As the chicks age, they’ll make fewer trips to the waterer. But – they take more water per trip. (They get wiser. And lazier. And more efficient!)

baby yellow chicks drinking water under lamp
Remember that chickens don’t sweat! They depend on access to freshwater to help manage their temperatures. When the coop gets hot on the inside during the summer? Imagine how your flock feels. Help keep them cool by supplying a constant source of fresh drinking water.

What Happens If a Chicken Doesn’t Get Enough Water?

A dehydrated chicken is relatively easy to spot as she’ll exhibit the following symptoms:

  • A pale comb
  • Lethargy
  • Lifting the wings away from the body
  • Pale wattles and comb
  • Diarrhea

In severe cases, she may also experience convulsions or seizures. In less life-threatening situations? A water shortage will cause a chicken to stop laying. As eggs are mostly water, without it, your chickens will, quite literally, dry up.

Once they’ve stopped laying? It may take a while for a previously dehydrated chicken to get back into full swing. Dehydration may trigger a molt, meaning you’ll get no eggs from that hen for (up to) 12 weeks. All because the chook got left without water for too long.

You can limit the effect a lack of water has on your flocks by adding electrolytes to their water supply. Electrolytes will replenish those lost during dehydration and nourish them back to comfort.

Read More – Do Chickens Need Light at Night for Laying Eggs? What About Baby Chicks?!

Chickens Don’t Like Dirty Water!

We used to put water for our chickens in old car tires that we’d cut in half, but it was impossible to keep the water clean enough. Mold kept appearing in the tires, and other debris, like leaves and dirt from the chicken feet and beaks, would also contaminate it. 

After battling dehydration issues for several months, we invested in a dedicated chicken waterer. The waterer hangs a few inches off the ground, is easier to clean, and has a sturdy galvanized steel build. It doesn’t promote mold, mildew, or any other kind of nasty microorganism.

three thirsty hens drinking fresh water from bowl
Your chickens drink a lot when they get hot. And make no mistake! Providing constant drinking water to your flock can help increase survival rates. We also advise changing the water daily to help prevent dirty contamination and to help avoid coccidiosis.

My Experience Watering Chickens

As long as your chickens have access to fresh, clean drinking water throughout the day, they’ll be tremendously content to spend their nights sleeping rather than slaking their thirst. 

You may want to keep your chicken waterer inside the coop for hygiene reasons, but it’s not essential. If your chicken coop is a little crowded, as mine is, you can leave the waterer outside as long as you clean it regularly and provide fresh drinking water daily.

Chicken Watering FAQs

We know that keeping your chooks well-hydrated is a lot of work!

We put together these chicken watering FAQs to help eliminate stress or second-guessing.

After watering chickens for many years – we hope they help you.

Read More – Can You Overfeed Your Hens and Roosters? Chicken Feeding Guide!

Best Chicken Waterers and Chicken Hydrating Gear

You won’t believe how hot it gets inside your chicken coop – doubly when the glaring sun’s been pounding outside all day!

Water helps keep your flock cool, refreshed, and healthy.

We always encourage our fellow homesteaders and chicken raisers to have plenty of water station options for their coop.

The more, the merrier. So you have ample hydration available for your chooks, roosters, and chicks – regardless of their size or location in your henhouse.

We penned the following list containing the best-reviewed chicken and rooster water stations. We hope these help – and may your flock relish them.

Enjoy!

  1. Large Automatic Chicken Waterer Cups | Lil Clucker
  2. Large Automatic Chicken Waterer Cups | Lil Clucker
    $22.97

    This chicken waterer 5-pack is perfect for your entire chicken coop! It provides a constant water supply - your only job is to refill the bucket. It does the rest! Please note that this chicken waterer does not include the water bucket.

    The reviews are mostly excellent. But - some of the negative reviews cite that it leaks. Double-check the connection to make sure it's snug. Once set up - it's perfect for chickens, chicks, ducks, geese, turkeys, and bunnies!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 04:24 am GMT
  3. 1 Gallon Complete Plastic Poultry Fount | Little Giant
  4. 1 Gallon Complete Plastic Poultry Fount | Little Giant
    $16.01

    Here's a heavy-duty one-gallon chicken waterer that withstands cracks and heat. It's much easier to assemble than other chicken water stations. Just screw the one-gallon water jug directly into the base. No-fuss is necessary.

    The water container is thick - but transparent. You can always tell how much water remains inside. This water source will last your coop a while. But we still recommend cleaning and changing the water frequently.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 09:45 am GMT
  5. Poultry Drinker | Harris Farms
  6. Poultry Drinker | Harris Farms
    $48.13

    Do you have a massive chicken flock you want to save from the sweltering heat? Then try this six-gallon chicken watering station. It fills without fuss, has a large volume, and is BPA-free. The only downside is that the setup is slightly tricky.

    Harris Farms put together a one-minute setup tutorial that you should watch before assembling. It's straightforward - but there are steps you need to follow! The station has a red trash guard and black float stop that align with the bucket when assembling. If you neglect these steps - it might leak. Assemble with care!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 01:41 am GMT
  7. Chicken Waterer Heated Base | Manna Pro Chicken Supplies
  8. Chicken Waterer Heated Base | Manna Pro Chicken Supplies
    $58.41

    Are you raising chickens in a chilly or cold climate? Well - nobody likes drinking from a solid block of ice. Not even chickens! This heated drinking base will keep your chicken's water station liquid - and warm enough to drink.

    As long as the temperature doesn't dip below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, this warming base will ensure the water doesn't freeze. It works with Free Range water stations from Harris Farms.

    Get More Info

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    07/07/2022 08:10 am GMT
  9. Automatic Chicken Waterer with No Spill System | OverEZ
  10. Automatic Chicken Waterer with No Spill System | OverEZ
    $79.99

    Do you need a chicken watering station with massive water storage? Check this one out - it holds 12 gallons! It has a clever design that allows three chickens to drink at one time. The plastic is BPA-free and food-safe.

    The nipples may be too difficult for your baby chickens to drink from reliably. We recommend supplying your baby flock with alternative water sources to ensure they always have plenty of water. Also - if you want your chicks to use this waterer, it takes practice. And patience!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 04:01 am GMT
  11. 5 Gallon Automatic Chicken Nipple Water Cup Chicken Waterer | RentACoop
  12. 5 Gallon Automatic Chicken Nipple Water Cup Chicken Waterer | RentACoop
    $54.95

    These watering kits from RentACoop are one of our favorites. But they're not perfect. On the good side? The watering cups have a gravity valve that fills up automatically when empty. You can attach these cups to any bucket, rain barrel, or water reservoir.

    Get an 8-millimeter drill bit, and make a hole. You can also go the easier route and snag their watering system - complete with a five-gallon watering bucket and four cups. Also - RentACoop has excellent customer service, and they are real chicken people! On the negative side? Some of the reviewers say that the build quality isn't flawless.

    Get More Info

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    07/07/2022 04:14 am GMT
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Conclusion

Being a chicken is a thirsty business! Even more so when the raging sun hammers down upon their feathery hides!

For that reason? We always encourage our homesteading friends to provide plenty of freshwater for their flock.

What about you? Do you find that your flock drinks more water when it’s hot? Or maybe your chickens drink more when laying eggs?

Also – does your chicken drink water at night? Or – do they wait until morning?

We’d love to hear about your experience! And if you have questions about how much water chickens drink – feel free to post them below.

We love brainstorming all things chickens and water. So – we invite your feedback.

Thanks so much for reading.

And have a great day!

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OK, I’m still confused: do you or don’t you recommend putting water in the coop?

Hey there.

Thanks so much for your comment!

The answer is yes.

We believe in giving your flock plenty of fresh and clean drinking water at all times!

The more water? The better!

(Especially when the weather gets hot.)

Thanks again for asking – and we apologize for any confusion.

Have an excellent day!

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