I'm a newbie and this is my first time raising chickens. I have two hens which were very young when I got them. That was about 10 months ago and they have FINALLY started laying eggs!! They have had the same 2 gallon plastic waterer since the day I brought them home. It is a standard type waterer that is shaped like a bell with a red tray at the bottom where the water collects and a plastic dome were the water is stored. It hangs by a chain which leaves the red water dish suspended about 2 inches off of the ground. Every day or so I go out and dump the dirty water and allow the bottom to refill with clean water. The 2 gallon reservoir lasts them about 5 days and then I have to take it out to refill it. They are in an enclosed area with no other water source and though I have never seen them drink from the waterer, I know they must be or they would have been dead long ago. What has started happening within the last two weeks is that every time I dump out the dirty water, the hens will run over and drink as much water as possible from the dirt and mud before it sinks in to the ground. It is as if they were dying of thirst or something. The waterer will be right there in their faces and they don't seem to notice it, but if I pour some out, they will immediately start to drink it up from the ground. Does anyone have any ideas why they are doing this? Thanks!