Whether you are new to raising chicks or a seasoned pro, there are several different waterer options for your baby chicks.
The waterer you choose can vary depending on your how many chicks you will be brooding at a time, how much space you have in your brooder, and how much money you are willing to spend (spoiler alert: chick waterers are not that expensive and actually offer better safety to your chicks than DIY waterers).
In this article, I will compare different types of chick waterers including: round chick waterers, waterers on adjustable legs, quail waterers, and nipple waterers. (Say that sentence 3 times fast!)
Round Chick Waterer
A round chick waterer is the most common type of waterer for both baby chicks and adult chickens.
The water is gravity fed and refills the bottom area that chicks drink from automatically.
This type of waterer works by equalizing the pressure in the reservoir and base. As water is removed from the base, it will be refilled with water from the reservoir until the pressures are equal.
A round chick waterer allows multiple chicks to drink water at the same time.
Your chicks won’t all be drinking water at the same time but it is common for chicks to see one drinking and then they all want to join in! It’s nice to have a waterer that accommodates multiple chicks at a time in order to avoid any squabbles.
Many chicken keepers will add rocks or marbles to their waterer to prevent their chicks from drowning.
When your chicks are a few days old you will need to make sure that none of them fall asleep with their heads in the waterer because they can end up drowning.
A major drawback to this type of waterer is that it can be very messy.
Chicks can easily spill water out of this waterer and it can get all over their bedding and leak through to the bottom of their brooder.
Since this waterer sits directly on the ground, it’s easy for chicks to kick bedding into the water base. When too much bedding gets in the water base, it will need to be cleaned out to ensure that your chicks are able to get access to clean water.
Another issue that can occur with this type of waterer is that you might have some chicks that want to perch on top of the waterer.
When chicks are perched on top of something, their poop will fall down and you might have an issue of poop ending up in their water.
You will have to watch to make sure your chicks don’t roost on top of the waterer and poop into the water. If they do, it’s not a problem–it just means that you will need to clean out the waterer more often.
We used a small round waterer for our chicks and added rocks to the bottom. Because our chicks would kick their bedding into the waterer, we would have to empty the entire thing outside and replace the rocks into the water several times a day.
Round Waterer – On Adjustable Legs
This type of waterer is similar to the one above except it’s on adjustable legs.
The major benefit of this type of waterer is that it might be more difficult for your chicks to jump on top of the waterer, therefore resulting in less poop ending up in their water.
The other benefit is that it will be more difficult for your chicks to spill the water on their bedding, resulting in less mess to clean up.
You can adjust the height of the legs as your chicks grow taller, making it a nice waterer that can grow with your flock.
Since these waterers typically hold less water than a larger waterer, it would only work well watering a small flock of adult chickens.
Chickens can easily drink between 1 and 2 pints of water today when they are full-grown and chick waterers will not provide enough water to multiple adult chickens.
Another option for a waterer for your chicks is a quail waterer.
This type of waterer is great for chicks as it’s made for smaller birds and you won’t have to add rocks or marbles to prevent your chicks from drowning.
They work the same way as the round waterers. The only difference is that they are smaller and will generally hold less water.
You will still deal with chicks wanting to perch on top of the waterer, kicking bedding into the water, and spilling water onto the ground of the brooder.
A nipple waterer is good if you are only brooding a few chicks at a time since you can only water as many chicks as as you have nipples.
This type of waterer is great at preventing messes since the chicks are not able to splash around in the water. They will not be getting the the floor of their border as wet
With this type of waterer, you will not have to deal with rocks and marbles in their water which makes clean up easier than the round waterers.
Also with this type of waterer you will not have to worry about chickens roosting on top and pooping into the water since the water reservoir is closed.
These types of waterers will often come with two types of nipples: a yellow vertical nipples and red horizontal nipple. Many people find that their chicks are able to use the red horizontal nipple easier than the other one.
We made a waterer for our full-grown chickens using the red horizontal nipples. After we showed them how it worked, they all caught on pretty quick. It’s a great system for keeping their water clean.
In conclusion, I would recommend the best waterer for chicks to be the round waterer with adjustable legs. This type of waterer works well for chicks just a few days old and can grow with them as they become pullets. It is the least messy of all the waterers that also allows multiples chicks to drink at the same time.