As the summer temperatures begin to rise, the well-being of your backyard chickens should be a top priority. Among the various elements that contribute to the health of your chickens, one often underestimated factor stands out - the quality of their drinking water. In this blog post, we'll look at the significance of clean water for maintaining a thriving flock, exploring its impact on digestion, temperature regulation, egg laying and overall health.
The Importance of Clean Water
Just like us humans, chickens require access to clean, fresh water for optimal health. Water plays a vital role in almost every physiological process within a chicken's body, ranging from digestion to temperature regulation. Providing a clean water source that is available during daylight hours ensures that your backyard hens stay hydrated, promoting efficient nutrient absorption and aiding in the prevention of common health issues.
Clean water becomes especially critical during hot weather when chickens are more susceptible to dehydration. It also plays a crucial role in egg laying, as hens with access to clean water tend to lay more consistently and produce healthier eggs. About 75% of an egg is water, highlighting the direct correlation between water quality and egg laying efficiency.
The Role of Clean Water in a Chicken’s Metabolic Processes
Considering how much of an egg is composed of water, it’s easy to accept that a constant supply of clean water is absolutely essential for hens to lay good quality eggs. Clean water supports the metabolic processes necessary for egg formation and ensures that your hens are in optimal condition for consistent laying.
The Dangers of Dirty Water
Dirty water poses a significant threat to your flock's overall health. It can serve as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and parasites, leading to various waterborne diseases. Regularly cleaning and refreshing water containers is a simple yet effective way to safeguard your chickens against these potential hazards.
Tips for Keeping Drinking Water Clean
1. Choose the Right Containers
Never use bowls or dishes for your chicken’s drinking water, as they are too low and open to both evaporation and contamination. Chickens tend to perch on the rims of dishes, tipping them over or contaminating the water with their dirty feet.
2. Use Proper Chicken Drinkers
Invest in proper chicken drinkers or chicken waterers, as they are sometimes referred to, that provide water in a narrow channel or cup.
3. Optimal Placement
Depending on the age or breed of hen, chicken drinkers should be positioned at least 30cm above the ground. This reduces contamination from dustbathing and scratching behaviours and reduces the risks from rodents and insects accessing the water. Hang traditional bell drinkers on a hook and chain for easy removal and height adjustment. Keep drinkers away from direct sunlight to prevent plastic deterioration, bacterial growth, and overheating of the water on hot days.
4. Regular Cleaning
To safely and naturally clean your chicken drinker, scrub all surfaces of your drinker regularly with a 1-litre solution containing equal amounts of rock salt, white vinegar, and water. Rinse thoroughly to maintain a clean water supply.
5. Invest in Redundancy
For those who travel or have large flocks, invest in a larger capacity drinker or a second smaller drinker to ensure redundancy in the water supply.
6. Beat the Heat
Freeze blocks of ice to place in your chicken drinkers during hotter summer days, providing your chickens with cool water to encourage hydration.
7. Supplement for Health
Consider adding vitality and digestion-improving formulations to drinkers periodically, such as Vitality Booster and Mother Hen’s Remedy. This can boost flock health during stressful periods.
Investing in Longevity and Happiness
Maintaining a clean water supply is not just a chore but an investment in the longevity and happiness of your backyard flock. By ensuring access to cool, clean water, you're not just meeting a basic need but actively contributing to the vitality and productivity of your feathered companions.
A healthy chicken is a happy chicken and clean water plays a significant role in maintaining their health and happiness. As the heat of summer increases, make it a priority to implement these tips for ensuring a clean and reliable water supply for your backyard flock. Your chickens will thank you with robust health, consistent egg production and a contented cluck.