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If you’re looking at options for providing water for your chickens you might be wondering, can chickens drink from rabbit waterers and water bottles?
The short answer is, yes. Chickens can drink from a rabbit waterer or water bottle. Lots of backyard chicken owners use them. There are plenty of other options too, chickens are very smart and will use various watering devices.
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What Type of Water Bottles/Waterers Can Chickens Use?
The most common type of waterer for chickens is something like the one you see below (available on Amazon):
In fact, that is one of the most popular models on Amazon. Not all are heated like this one, but the design is basically the same as you’ll see in most chicken coops.
This is a common design because it’s easy for chickens to dip in and drink from it. It also has a lip around the bottom to reduce the amount of dirt, bedding, and other debris getting into the water.
It works well, I’ve enjoyed using them over the years. But, it does raise the question, is there a better way to provide water for chickens?
What's the Drawback With This Type of Waterer?
The type of chicken waterer I showed you above are great, but there are a couple of drawbacks:
The first is that despite all your best efforts, such as hanging it off the ground, placing it away from bedding, etc. dirt, bedding, and shavings can still get into the water and contaminate it.
Another issue is that you need to change the water at least once a day. (Unless you have one of the models that can be hooked up to a water line)
These are two of the reasons why some people opt for other options, especially if they have a large flock.
Some of the other ways you can provide drinking water - some of which might be better for you - include various types of water bottles and large buckets with poultry nipples attached (more on these below).
Why Would You Use a Rabbit Waterer With Your Chickens?
The reason rabbits and other cage animals use water bottles is because they are the best way to provide water to those pets.
There is no way the water can get contaminated by the animals flicking bedding into the water. They don’t spill much, and the drinking water will stay fresh all day.
Three of the same issues we face when providing water to chickens!
So, the only thing you need to know is; can chickens drink from water bottles?
Yes, they can!
I’ve seen it myself, chickens have no problems figuring out how to drink from rabbit or rodent water bottles.
You just need to make sure it’s the regular kind of water bottle that has a loose ball bearing. The balls in some bottles are pushed back with a spring.
Just a basic bottle like the one below available on Amazon will do. Place there somewhere your chickens would expect to find water (and maybe give them a little nudge) and they should start using it.
Poultry Nipples - the Best Waterer Solution
I mentioned something called poultry nipples earlier. These are, in my opinion, the most effective way to provide water for your chickens without any of the issues that come with using open waterer as explained above.
Just take a look at the video below to see chickens drinking from water nipples:
This is how most large scale poultry operations provide water to their chickens. They’ll typically have a water pipe attached to a mains supply run the length of their housing, with nipples along the pipe for chickens to drink from.
In the backyard, you can simply fill a large plastic bucket with water and pop a few of these little devices on the sides or underneath.
Here is an example of the nipples you’ll need on Amazon:
As you can see, the way chickens use them to get water isn’t too different from a cage water bottle. They have to use their beaks to poke the end and release water.
I think this is the best way to provide drinking water for backyard chickens. Especially if you have a decent number of birds in your flock. You can fill up a huge bucket and know the water is not going to get contaminated.
Related - How much water do chickens need?
Chickens can drink from rabbit waterers and bottles, yes. Some owners use them to complement their main chicken waterer, or inside a brooder with chicks.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the standard chicken waterer, I always recommend people set up a large bucket with nipples as I explained above.
It’s a better way to provide water for chickens as it keeps drinking water fresher for longer.
Image credits - Header photo by Martin Skarregaard on Unsplash