Untreated Dug Well Water


In the Brooder
Jun 2, 2017
Our property has two wells. The old dug well and our drilled well that we use for our house. Our drilled well produces very hard water and is on a softener (very salty). We drink from a reverse osmosis system and that's what I have been giving my chickens so far but it takes a very very long time to fill their waterer. The old dug well has nice soft water but its kinda dirty and could contain bacteria since we no longer have it on a UV system. This might be a silly question but would it be okay to give the untreated dug well water to the chickens?
We run our water through a softener and everything here drinks it but us humans, we also have a reverse osmosis system too. I even water my gardens, house plants and keep aquarium fish. Use your soften water, your chickens will be fine.

Otherwise your other well would probably be fine too. Mine drink out of all kinds of dirty puddles despite me giving them fresh clean water.
We have the same issue, kind of.
And no, if the water has coliform bacteria in it, they can get very sick, and/or die.
This sickness can, and has wiped out entire chicken farms.
What has been recommended by the avian health labs, is to chlorinate the water. Any silt in it would not hurt them, but the coliform bacteria will.
The chlorination recipe I got from WSU avian health here in Washinton state, was to use 2 cups of unscented houshold bleach (pure bleach with no additives) in 1 gallon of water.
Save this & label it "solution".
From this "solution" you add 1 Tablespoon per gallon of drinking water for well birds...and 2 Tablespoons per gallon of drinking water, for sick birds.
So, in other words, mix the solution, set it some place no one will accidently use it as drinking water !
And add the required Tablespoons to the bird's water.
Try not to use it on galvinized metal, other than that, we add the amounts needed to the water fonts we have (plastic) or plastic pails and all is well.......but we did have birds get sick & die a few years ago, and necropsy showed they had died from coliform bacteria, and that is how I got this recipe.
I've had a similar question for my rainwater in our cisterns. I keep wanting to put together a bio-sand filter but have not gotten around to it. I hate using chlorine any more than I must. I've also considered if I can use the UV light from one of my aquarium filters and just keep it in a rain barrel but I don't know how long I'd need to run it to zap everything. we have a metal roof but it does get it's share of passing bird poop, pollen and algae, though it is crystal clear.
You could have the well tested, then you'd know.
I am on a drilled well that has very hard water. High in iron. Our house is on a filter and softener, but all the hydrants are straight from the well. You can smell the iron in it some days, but the birds don't mind at all. I'm definitely not coming all the way back inside to fill the chicken waterers!
Except for chasing cars, chickens are very much like dogs. They happily drink out of mud holes, usually without any ill effects.

Your hand dug well is fine. In the past I raised 1,000s of 100% free range chickens on dug well water, I even had to draw the water by hand. Spoiled or contaminated feed is a much, much, much, greater danger.
We used to use hand dug wells as potable water sources for home and livestock (including chickens). Wells still in place and occasionally used for livestock. No issues we had. Water was not treated prior to consumption. That being said, you need to consider what might be contaminating the well and aquifer that supplies it with recharge. Even more local runoff can be a consideration.
necropsy.jpg All our wells are hand dug, or rain water. The rain water tested can still have e.coli in it, due to birdie doo on the roof.the hand dug wells are about 10 to 16 foot deep and do have coliform bacteria but so far not e.coli.
I dislike chlorine, too.but under the circumstances, there is nothing else that will effectively kill coliform bacteria.
The recipe sent to me by the avian doctors is widely used in commercial houses and by many many professional growers.
It also does no harm, and is just about the same amount of chlorine we humans drink, and is less chlorine than used by municipal water treatment plants.
The birds DO drink out of every ditch, filled with poo or not, but for some reason unknown to me, and only known to the avian doctors, this recipe works and did save the rest of the birds in my flock that were dying of e.coli.
I have tried to upload a few papers published by Avian Docs, and so far the links are not working here..sorry.
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My free-range birds drink from pools that are surely exposed to coliform bacteria. It appears their immune systems are generally up to task of fighting off infections. With penned birds, I do give more consideration to as they are confined which may challenge immune systems.

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