Chickens require a lot of fresh water and must have access to it at all times since they sip small amounts all throughout the day. Under normal conditions your flock will drink about twice as much as it eats daily. Chickens are also a bit particular about their water - it can't be too warm or strongly flavored or they won't drink it. If you add any supplementation to the water, it's a good idea for the first time you do so to check frequently to make sure they are drinking it.
Always provide your flock water from a clean, reliable source. It must be replenished regularly since it's
responsible for many functions including the digestive process, to regulate body temperature and to allow nutrients to move through the body. In addition to the water being replenished regularly, the waterer(s) must be cleaned at least weekly to help prevent diseases being spread through it.
A good waterer is designed so the chickens can't step in it or roost on it, keeping it clean from droppings. Conventional waterers can be found at your local feed store, and are available in either plastic or metal. They also come in a few different sizes.
When choosing, keep in mind the size of your flock and also, how far you'll have to carry the waterer each time you refill it and/or clean it. It may make more sense to opt for 2 medium size waterers as opposed to one very large waterer depending on your situation and your flock size. We've chosen to have more than one because the chickens at the top of the pecking order, from time to time, will try to prevent those at the bottom of the pecking order from drinking. With additional waterers, this doesn't seem to be an issue.
Regardless of which type of waterer you choose, make sure to set it on a level surface to prevent water from slowly dripping out. The height of the drinking trough should be about the height of the smallest chickens back. This will allow all to have full access.
If you live where water will freeze, you will have to figure out a process for keeping it thawed. If you have electricity in your coop, there are electrical warming devices that sit under waterers and keep them warm enough to prevent freezing.
Another option, if you can do it, is to replace the water twice a day. Keeping the waterers away from direct drafts will help keep them from freezing.Summer:
As I mentioned earlier, chickens are particular about water temperature. In order to keep the water cooler, keep the waterers in shade during hot summer days and switch out their warm water with cool water one to two times per day.
Keeping these few things in mind will help you have a healthy, happy flock!Additional Chicken-Keeping Posts:Using Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken HealthChicken WaterChicken Coop 101: 13 Lessons We Learned Building Our CoopThe Chicken Coop at Cobble Hill FarmAll You Need To Know About Chicken RoostsAll You Need To Know About Nesting Boxes