Newbie's flock delights in contaminating water

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by greenpixies, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. greenpixies

    greenpixies Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 17, 2011
    Natchitoches, LA

    My new flock of chicks (7 Silkies in 4 colors, 4 Americana, 3 Brahma standards in 3 colors) is about 2 weeks old. They don't seem to poop in their food much but the water can be contaminated a few minutes after I have carefully washed it and changed the water. I do this several times a day, but there is no negotiating with them!

    I'm looking at other types of water-er designs but even if I purchase one today it would probably be 2 weeks before it arrived. We live in a small town. Does any one have any suggestions? I can not sit with them all day and night, no matter how much I love them (and I do) or how cute they are!

    Here's what I've tried:

    1. Asking them nicely to consider the benefits of basic hygene (I think the pea-sized brains present a challenge for this approach).

    2. Raising the water-er. I put it up high on a flipped over little plastic bin and it didn't get contaminated - but I don't think they drank from it either. Could not risk dehydrating the babies, so brought it back down. Did raise it on a couple of wood peices, but it still gets contaminated, plus sometimes they push it off and some water spills which I don't think is good for them.

    The other question I have around this is: what will happen to them if they continue to drink from water that has a bit of poop in it? Are they destined to get sick or even die? Is there anything I can do?

    Thanks in advance for any help. I know this must be a common occurance, but I can't seem to figure out an answer.
  2. gale65

    gale65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    They shouldn't get sick from drinking gross water. Some here have mentioned that no matter how clean the chickens' water is, they prefer to drink rain from a mud puddle. Mostly what gets in is feed. They somehow get it in there even if it's away from the feeder. I just fill the water once a day and swirl out the gross once in a while. You can use a nipple type waterer system or a hamster waterer and the water stays clean.

    eta: you can raise the waterer to the level of their backs and they should still be able to drink from it easily. We used bricks (leftover from a home project). One layer at first and now it's on 2 layers of bricks. I could probably add another layer of bricks now too.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  3. jen5680

    jen5680 Southside Silkie Shack

    Jun 18, 2009
    SW Ohio
    Try putting it on one of those small red bricks. That is what I use and they can reach it fine. Yes it does still get dirty but not
    as bad. Check out the nipple waterers. I jsut ordered some and can't wait to try them! Got them from and they
    came fast!
  4. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    I have switched to lining their brooder with paper towels rather than pine shavings, which cuts down on the amount of junk they can get into their water. I also switched to a smaller watering container and don't fill the reservoir very full, since still dump and clean it at least three times a day. It seems to help some.

    I've also fashioned two larger "play pens" for my 8 chicks (now 2 1/2 weeks old). The larger one I made of plastic chicken netting on a PVC pipe frame. It's 4'X6" and about 3' tall. I have it in my garage on a 4X6 piece of scrap linoleum near the brooder. The smaller one is a puppy play-run and is maybe 3'X5' and 2' tall and sits outside in a weedy/gravely area in the shade of a tree near my garden.

    For the past week or so, I've tried to get the girls out of their brooder for extended periods of time during the day. They appear absolutely love the big indoor play area, running around flapping their wings, scratching in the cookie tray of dirt/gravel I put in it, hopping up on the various perches and objects I've put on the floor for their entertainment. I move the heat lamp over a corner of the big run and when they've run around for awhile, they all head back to that corner for a nap.

    I've had them in the outside run twice on warm, non-windy days and they love that too. (I fasten a screen over the top of the outdoor pen because they are testing their wings a lot and make sure I'm working nearby for fear of cats, dogs, foxes etc).

    I have noticed that on days when their out in either of the bigger runs, the water stays much cleaner (even though I move the waterer to wherever they are). I'm guessing that they are bored in the smaller brooder and are more likely to hop up on their waterer just for a different perspective on life. Perhaps the more close confines just lead to more of the poop ending up in the water.
  5. greenpixies

    greenpixies Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 17, 2011
    Natchitoches, LA
    Thanks all for info so far!

    Gale65: is the same true for chicks as for grown chickens? Are the chicks likely to be fine drinking poopy water? I am planning on making a perch for the chickens with wood scraps. I think that often the poop gets in after they roost on the top of the water bottle. I heartily intend to keep things as clean as possible, but it is much of a relief to hear your words of encouragement not to be over-concerned.

    I can try bricks for raising the water level: it's a good idea as they are heavier than the wood peices I am using and the chicks will not be able to move them so easily.

    Hummingbird H: a lot of great ideas! I like the idea of getting them outside anyway. My husband and I were going to use our old 10 x 10 dog kennel for their yard. We are going to wire the top and bottom this weekend to prevent predator access. Once we get it set up we are hoping to gradually introduce the chicks to outdoor play time.
  6. gale65

    gale65 Chillin' With My Peeps

    We put in a small roost and they still flew up onto the waterer and feeder. I never noticed poop in either one (but there was on top of them) but that doesn't mean it didn't get in there. I have witnessed them pecking poops so I don't think it will hurt them, but the longer the water is poopy the more bacteria grows in it so I would continue to clean it out at least daily.

    I can almost guarantee you that the vast majority of people with chickens don't treat their chickens with as much care as the people on this board and still their chickens survive. Not saying it should be one way or the other but most people I know would consider the ways people are here with their chickens to be major coddling. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011

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