XP: how to keep chicks water dish CLEAN?!


In the Brooder
8 Years
Feb 17, 2011
Mesa, AZ
(XP on raising baby chicks!)

My chicks are about a 1 month old and they keep kicking pine shavings into their water and feed dishes. It is driving me CRAZY. I am having to clean them out multiple times a day, and its wasting so much feed/water/vitamins/etc. Not only is it a PAIN to clean all the time, but I'm worried about them getting dehydrated, etc if there isn't fresh, clean water and feed available 24/7.

They have just the normal feeders...the quart size container that screws into the plastic dish, the feeder has little circle cutouts all around the bowl, etc. I tried putting the water dish up on a cake pan turned upside down, but it didn't help. What else can I do???
Raise it up so they cannot kick around in it. That should help but its impossible to keep it completely clean
I usually have to raise mine at least 6 inches up to keep it clean if I'm using shavings. If your chicks are bantams, just put a step for them next to the platform. Alternatively, you can put the feeder and waterer in the middle of a cookie sheet lined with paper towels or a thin layer of sand. They will still get some bedding in it, but not nearly as much as without the cookie sheet. BTW, this is one of several reasons I have gone over to sand in my brooders. I keep it covered with paper towels for the first week to ensure the chicks know "food" from "sand," but wow, has it made a difference! I can scoop the brooder once a day and get all the poo out, my fly issue has been virtually eliminated, and if the chicks spill a bit of water I can stir in a little Stall Dry and it dries out (or change a bit of sand in a serious spill). No more sour food smelling or potentially making chicks sick if I can't get to the spill immediately (we ALL know how chick feed gets after a few soggy hours), as the moisture sinks into the sand instead of sitting on top, spoiling the loose food, and potentially soaking a chick (and the moisture from the poo does the same thing, hence no flies
). Oh, and as for the feeder/waterer issue, even when they're flat on the bottom of the brooder I know the chicks have access to water. If they kick a bit of sand in it (and they don't get nearly as much in it as with the shavings), the sand settles to the bottom and they can still access their water. It does the same with the food since it's smaller and settles between the gaps in the crumbles. I just clean the feeder and waterer once a day now and rest easy they are in good shape. Finally, when we switched to sand we also switched to heated kennel pads under the sand for heat sources. It radiates into the sand and creates a really nice range of heat over about half the brooder. The chicks love to nestle down in the sand and bask in it. I haven 't had a case of "chilly chick" or pasty butt since the switch. Just wanted to share ...
Every single one of my pens has a regular size concrete block that I keep the waterer on. It's a stretch for some of them, but for the silkies - it seems right about at the height they don't have have to reach up or down - it's right at beak level. If I have younger ones that seem to be having trouble, I'll put a red brick for them to stand on, but other than that it's worked great for me

How do you teach the chicks to use the nipples and will the older chickens still learn?

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