What is the best drinker for my Chickens?
Bell drinkers are the most common type of drinker for use with backyard chickens and look just like a “bell” but with a trough or moat right around the bottom. The Bell style of the drinker is simple and normally formed from two separate parts – the bell shaped water reservoir and the bottom, lipped drinking plate that it attaches to.
The benefits of using Bell drinkers are that they stop your chickens from standing-in and contaminating their drinking water along with providing good access for a small flock who can all drink from a Bell drinker at the same time. Some of the disadvantages of Bell drinkers are that they become unwieldy and heavy once they get over about seven litres in capacity and if they are knocked-over they will leak all of their water out.
Still, because of their simplicity, bell drinkers are normally the most inexpensive type of drinker for your chickens but it’s important to make sure that the quality is good enough for daily-use and our harsh Australian environment. Some drinker aren’t made from UV stabilised plastic and quickly become brittle and break. Others are simply too flimsy and fall apart or become damaged with normal wear and tear.
The way the bell drinker system works is that there is a small, water drain hole at the bottom which allows water to flow around the moat until it is covered. Once the drain hole is covered, a vacuum is formed at the top of the water reservoir which holds the remaining water back – stopping it from all draining out.
As chickens drink from the moat, the water level goes down to the point that it allow some air to be drawn up through the drain hole and into the reservoir. This slightly reduces the pressure from the vacuum holding the water in place so that it flows into the moat again until the hole is again covered – pretty clever aye!
Tripod drinkers work in the same way as the Bell drinker but often have a larger water capacity. Tripod drinkers also use a water reservoir or container at the top of the drinker but use a drinking bowl at the bottom instead of a moat.
The benefits of using Tripod drinkers are that they keep your chickens’ drinking water clean as chickens don’t have enough room to perch or otherwise stand in the drinking bowl and the bowl is easy to remove and clean. The Tripod drinker is also free-standing with the bowl elevated so that you don’t need to hang or place the drinker on bricks. The larger capacity of most Tripod drinkers also enables you to keep your chickens hydrated for a lot longer than most Bell drinkers.
Some of the disadvantages of Tripod drinkers are that they have a set height which is not easy to adjust if not quite right for your chickens due to the need to elevate the three supporting legs evenly. The drinking bowl also has a large surface area which is more open to dust and debris being flicked into it by your chickens or on a windy day.
The way the Tripod drinker functions is identical to that used by bell drinkers. There is a small, water exit hole at the bottom part of the water container which allows water to flow into the drinking bowl until the exit hole is covered. A vacuum is then formed at the top of the water container that holds the rest of the water back, stopping it from all coming out and overflowing the drinking bowl.
As chickens drink from the bowl, the water level lowers until some air is able to be drawn up through the water exit hole and into the container. This reduces the pressure in the vacuum holding the water to allow water to fill-up the bowl again until the hole is covered.
Twin Cup drinkers work quite differently to the Bell and Tripod drinkers in that they don’t use a vacuum to control water delivery. Instead, Twin Cup drinkers use a small float in each cup that works the same as a ballcock (also known as a float valve), in a toilet cistern to allow water to fill the cup when low.
The benefits of using Twin Cup drinkers are that they have a very small surface area so less dust and debris can enter the system. The water in each cup is also replenished frequently as your chickens drink then peck at the float (natural chicken behaviour). The drinking cups are also easy to clean with an old toothbrush and the standard 1/16 (1/2 inch), male fitting means that you can screw the drinker into a wide variety of standard water containers.
Some disadvantages of Twin Cup drinkers are that they normally need to be elevated on bricks or some other platform depending on the type of water container used with them. They are also limited to about four chickens per drinking cup so you will need another solution if you have a larger flock or else use multiple Twin Cup drinkers.
Clean-n-Clear is the 100% natural way to clean your water containers without using harsh or toxic chemicals. Specially formulated from grapefruit seed extract, which is nature’s natural anti-microbial. It greatly assists with reducing bacteria, fungus and mould in water and ideal for cleaning your chicken’s drinking water containers. Simple to use with the application of 15 drops in one litre of water and after 15 minutes, your containers (onced flushed), are ready for refilling!
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