Poultry Feeders and Waterers: Which is Best?

Poultry Feeders and Waterers: Which is Best?

  • By Rachel & Landon
  • Oct 26, 2018
Poultry Feeders and Waterers: Which is Best?

There are many types of feeders and water founts, also called drinkers, for poultry. From traditional hanging varieties to "egg-stravagant" DIY masterpieces, we will explore a great many here.

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If you've ever wondered how many types of feeders exist for chickens, just do a quick Pinterest search. They vary from the traditional hanging feeder to no-mess, rat-proof, waterproof, and so on. We've curated some of the cleverest ideas for feeders here in this post.

If you're doing research for a new feeder, think about where it will be placed. Will it be inside or outside the coop? If inside, make sure there's space where it won't get too dirty. If outside, make sure it won't get wet in the rain, and that your chickens can still get food in bad weather.

So here's our list of feeders, followed by drinkers after! 

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Pros: This is the standard hanging feeder that has been tried and true for many years. The design is simple, and it will last a long time.

Cons: It will need to be placed under a roof to remain dry. The chickens can scoop out the feed onto their bedding, and if it isn't elevated, they will kick their bedding into the feeder.

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Pros: This is a great design for a feeder! No mess, no waste, high capacity, rain resistant, and long-lasting.

Cons: Critters can get to it easily, it's not commercially available, and you'll need tools and some carpentry skills to DIY.


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Pros: This is the same design as the traditional feeder, but much cheaper. It's easy to replace, and easy to DIY.

Cons: It probably won't last long, and you may need tools for drilling the holes in the bucket.


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Pros: A great idea for feeding chicks in a brooder. It's cheap, can be hung for elevation, it's easy to replace, and anyone can DIY.

Cons: It won't last long and will be harder to clean. Take care to keep the edges smooth and not sharp.


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Pros: Another great design for a feeder. It's rat-proof, wild bird proof, easy to DIY, rain resistant, and doesn't waste food or let the chickens make a mess of it.

Cons: It can take some time for chickens to figure out how to use this feeder. And if the rats figure it out, then it is no longer vermin-proof.


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Pros: If you're feeding several types of food, this is your feeder! You can offer layer pellets, high protein crumbles, scratch grains, grit, oyster shell, and so on. It's less messy than traditional feeders and easy to refill.

Cons: It needs to be sheltered from rain, and you'll need some tools and minimal carpentry skills to DIY this feeder.


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Pros: All the benefits of the traditional feeder but less mess! The wire mesh prevents scratching, tipping, and raking. It's easy to DIY: All you need is a small roll of hardware cloth and some wire clippers.

Cons: This feeder needs to be sheltered from rain, and the sharp points on the wire need to be filed down or taped to prevent injury to your birds.


Water Founts

Like feeders, there are many types of poultry drinkers to pick from, and even more if you are handy.

Before you get started, where will you place it? Hanging or standing? If inside, take care that it can't be easily spilled, which could lead to water damage and mold. If you keep it outside, make sure that your girls will still have access to water in inclement weather.

Whatever type you decide on, don't place it right on the ground. Elevate it by hanging it from the ceiling or setting it on top of stacked bricks. The open water level should match the height of the chickens' backs. If it is too low, they will quickly kick dirt into it and spoil their clean water source.

Now let's get on to some of our favorite designs!


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Pros: This is the traditional drinker to match traditional feeder. It's built to last and readily available in any farm supply store.

Cons: It gets dirty quickly, is difficult to refill, and needs to be elevated. If you use one made of plastic, it can be easily tipped over if the water level gets low.


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Pros: This tiny automatic waterer is less messy, less wasteful (meaning a dryer coop), easy for chickens to figure out, and can be a DIY project or purchased pre-installed.

Cons: You'll likely need multiples and a bucket to go with it. It does require tools to DIY, but very little skill.


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Pros: This method of watering chickens is popular because there is no mess! The water is always clean and so is your coop. These can be purchased pre-installed, or you can DIY.

Cons: Even though chickens love to peck at shiny things, poultry nipples can be difficult for chickens to figure out. If you can introduce this style as chicks, all the better. You'll need multiples and a bucket to go with it. It does require tools to DIY, but very little skill.


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Pros: An automatic waterer that is high capacity and stays clean, and requires infrequent refills.

Cons: If the refill mechanism fails, the chickens will run out of water quickly.


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Pros: This is a mirror to the coke bottle feeder above. It's cheap, simple, and anyone can DIY.

Cons: It won't last long and may be difficult to clean.


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Pros: Recycle clean rainwater and it'll always be available (depending on climate).

Cons: You'll need tools and decent carpentry skills to DIY.


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Pros: It's easy to refill, stays clean, easy to DIY, and cheap!

Cons: More frequent refills because of the low capacity.


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Pros: Heated! Not made for chickens but safer, more functional, and more economical than any no-freeze drinker marketed specifically for poultry.

Cons: The bowl will get dirty easily, and readily available water may attract critters.


Some of the above can even be combined, such as the rainwater system coupled with automatic water cups.


We hope you've enjoyed this list! Let us know what you think, and if you have any cool pictures of DIY feeders or waterers, please share them with us on our various social media outlets!

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