How long can chicks go without water? How long can chickens live without water? These are the serious quality of life questions that deserve thorough answers!
If you’re expecting chicks, I know what a nerve-racking time it is. So many questions; from what to feed them, how much warmth they need, housing space, and so on.
One of the first things to think about as they enter the world is what they’re going to drink, and how soon.
Here’s everything you need to know about making sure chicks and chickens have enough to drink. Along with some commonly asked questions.
How Soon After Hatching Do Chicks Need Water?
Chicks cannot survive longer than 72 hours without water and food after hatching. Ideally, you’ll make fresh water available as soon as they hatch so it’s available as and when they need it.
How Do You Give Baby Chicks Water?
You have two main options when making water available to chicks;
- Hanging water bottles
- A ground waterer
I’m sure most if not everyone will be familiar with animal water bottles. They hang upside down and have a nipple attachment so chicks can release water when needed.
I prefer ground waterers, and I think chicks too. These make water available at all times at ground level so they can have a peck and drink when they need it.
The only downside is that it’s difficult to keep the water clean. Chicks tend to kick shavings and bedding around, and they kick some into the tray for sure.
If you want to go the DIY route, this video shows you how you can make a chick waterer yourself from just a dish and an empty plastic bottle.
How Much Water Do Baby Chicks Need?
I’ve never actually measured how much newborn chicks drink or need to drink. I couldn’t get an answer from my fellow chick breeders either.
I think it’s fair to say that if you make fresh water available, they will drink the amount they need. When first introducing them to water, just dip their beak into the water and they’ll know what to do from there.
Chicks are very smart, and they have strong survival instincts. All you need to do is make water available and show them where it is. From there, you’ll be able to witness them taking a sip when needed.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Chicks?
You’re probably aware of some of the benefits for chickens drinking apple cider vinegar. There are also some benefits for chicks too, so it’s worth picking some up.
The thing to be aware of is that you should only give them organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. The good stuff, basically.
Also, only give chicks a very small amount in their water that’s heavily diluted. I wouldn’t give them any more than a teaspoon per at least 5 cups of water.
Do Chickens Need Water at Night?
I’ve read both sides of the argument for chickens needing or not needing water overnight. Personally, I leave fresh water out inside the coop. There’s no reason not too, and if a chick needs a little drink, why not.
The reason I read some people saying that don’t leave water out overnight for their chickens is that they’re diurnal.
But are chickens really diurnal? Or are they actually crepuscular?
It’s a bit of a play on words, and maybe it’s semantics as they mean similar things. But in my opinion, chickens are crepuscular.
This means they are awake during the day, and primarily active during twilight. That’s periods of dusk and dawn - sound familiar?
Either way, the hours of light, temperature, and some other environmental factors where you are can affect when your chicks are active. It’s up to you to find out and decide if they need water at night as a responsible owner.
How Long Can A Chicken Go Without Water?
Having water readily available 24/7 is vitally important for the wellbeing of a grown chicken.
When your chickens are fully grown they will be drinking as much as 16 ounces of water a day, that’s around a pint of water if that’s easier to visualize.
There’s no exact timeline for how long a chicken can go or live without water as it’s dependent on environmental conditions.
What we do know, however, is that if a chicken goes without water for 24 hours it can cause them some serious distress and health issues.
They can stop laying eggs for several weeks. Their digestion is hindered, they can show early signs of dehydration, have difficulty regulating their core temperature, and more.
So, to answer this question I would say any period longer than 24 hours is too long for a chicken to go without water.
Can Chickens Drink Too Much Water?
Drinking too much water shouldn’t be a concern. Let’s give chicks and chickens credit for being able to know how much they need to drink.
You should make fresh water available in abundance 24/7. I don’t recommend trying to gauge how much they should need in any given period and leaving that amount out.
Just leave out as much water as you can safely do - leave the rest up to the chickens to drink as much as they need.
In Summary - How Long Can Chicks Go Without Water?
Hopefully, I've helped answer all the questions you have around how soon chicks need to drink, and much water to give your chicks and chickens.
I know it can be an anxious task looking after chicks and chickens when you're a first-timer or a new keeper - but you've nothing to worry about. Just follow the tips above I'm sure you and your chicks will be happy and hydrated!