Outside Chicken Waterer Season

The danger of freezing pipes has finally passed. That means I now have running water that comes out of spigots by the barns. (After last winter, this basic convenience still makes me smile!) It also means that the chickens get one of their favorite things – outside waterers.

outside chicken waterer


The chickens have been drinking just fine all winter from the dispenser inside of their coop. But now, in the morning, they wait until their pop-doors are opened, when they rush out and make a bee-line for the outside waterer. They do this whether the dispensers are plastic or

. The water is the same, but to the hens, it is not.

I have no idea why my hens prefer drinking water outside, but I know that they do. I have a few theories. In the summer, the hens don’t like to cross the hot pen to go inside. They’d rather have their water in the shade where they are. But that doesn’t explain their preference now. Perhaps,even in my coops with big windows, there’s something about seeing water in unfiltered sunshine that makes it more appealing. Who knows? I’m happy to accommodate their quirks. Each hen needs to drink at least a cup of water a day, more when it is hot. Providing access to water where and how they like it is essential to their well-being.

Each time the waterer is filled, it is also scrubbed. If you have problems with algae bloom, put a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the water.

cleaning waterer


Despite the girls’ preference for water outside, I still keep the dispenser inside freshly filled. They’ll appreciate it on bad-weather days, and, once in awhile, a hen will remember it is there and take a sip.

inside waterer


  1. I finally put an automatic waterer outside the coop. The algae was more than I could handle. It was like scrubbing a dirty fish bowl. I even used to put a paper bag over the top to keep the sun off and slow down the algae growth. When it gets hot though..I do they same..I put a small waterer out..one that I can manage.

  2. My hens prefer to drink outside, too XD I use rubber waters all year round; in the winter, I just have to step on the bottom of the waterer if it freezes and the ice falls out. Nice pictures :)

  3. My girls are on a nipple system. They prefer the waterers but when I put one on my deck it attracted rats and a opossum.

  4. Mine prefer muddy/poopy water puddles to clean water in a font. ;-(

  5. I put my outside waterer in the run just recently too. It’s a big one, so it only needs cleaning and refilling on the weekend. Such a nice change from switching out waterers between the house and the coop morning and evening during the winter. I did have a lightbulb heater base for the waterer, but it couldn’t keep the water from freezing once the temperatures dipped below -15, which it did for many nights and even days during January, February and even March.
    My hens much prefer to drink from the waterer in the run too. I didn’t know that hens should go through about a cup of water each per day. It doesn’t seem like my hens go through that much water, even taking into account the water I dump out of the drink pan parts of the waterers to clear out blown in or fallen debris. I supplement their free-choice layer feed with fermented grains every evening, so maybe it’s because they also get moist feed that they don’t drink as much. I hope that’s it, and not that they don’t care for the taste of our well water.

  6. My goats will NOT drink inside. They have a full, clean bucket inside but it never goes down any. The outdoor buckets need to be filled at least daily. And all the buckets are of the same type and I swap which bucket is in which location regularly so there really shouldn’t be any difference!

  7. Mine prefer the water in the potted plant saucers but I have to refill the waterer in their run on a weekly basis so I know that they are drinking regularly.

    • There is something about sparkly pools of water that they prefer over the narrow rim of the dispenser.

  8. I’ve noticed horses rushing to their outside water tubs as soon as they are turned out too! I always check their stall buckets to see if they’ve run out during the night but usually they have plenty.