How Long Can Chickens Live Without Water?

Without an excellent water supply, your chicken will have a compromised ability to digest food, lay eggs, generate energy, regulate body temperature, etc. Therefore, always strive to provide a sufficient water supply.

Chickens in idyllic climates can live without water for 2-3 days if they are healthy. However, those in hot weather can only survive for about 36 hours or less. Baby chickens can go for 6-12 hours, while new hatchlings can manage 72 hours without water.

Other factors, such as the prevailing environmental condition, may determine how long your bird can survive without any water. For instance, mature chickens will take less than 50 hours to go without water in a warm, humid climate. 

Here is a table that will guide you on how long chickens can go without water:                      

ConditionChicken Survival Period Without Water
Hot weather1 day
Cold Weather2 days
 Healthy Adult Chicken2-3 days
Unhealthy Adult Chicken1-2 days
Chicks1 day
Hatchlings3 days
Table showing how long chickens can go without water

How much water do chickens need?

Chickens generally need a minimum of 400ml of water daily when kept in a location experiencing moderate climatic conditions. Your bird may need to drink about 1L of water in warmer areas daily. Therefore, the existing water setup must be reliable so that your birds stay hydrated and generally healthy.   

The general health, age, conditions of living, and behavior may also determine the daily volume of water your chicken needs.

If a chicken lives indoors daily, it may consume about 180-250 ml of water. However, if the bird free-ranges, it may drink double the water volume due to more exposure to hot and warm temperatures.

Broilers may also need to consume much water daily as they grow faster than egg-laying birds. You may get fewer eggs if you do not provide your laying hens with adequate water. Without reliable water access, your bird may be so stressed that it takes one or two weeks to recover and resume the normal production of eggs.  

Do chickens like cold or warm water?

Chickens like cold water more than warm water. However, to prevent the drinking water from getting too cold or frozen during winter, warm it moderately.

Disadvantages of too much water in a coop

Disadvantages of too much water in the coop may include:

  • Wet feathers. That makes it difficult for your birds to insulate themselves.
  • Creation of a suitable breeding ground for thriving microorganisms that may cause different illnesses such as Infectious Bronchitis, Newcastle disease, and fowl pox.

Too much water in a coop may come from wet droppings and waterers, even in the form of vapor. Protect the coop from excess water so your birds do not live in unsafe conditions.

Should you provide your poultry with water at night?

Do not provide your poultry with water at night. Generally, chickens, like humans, are mostly very active in the daytime. That is when they eat and drink available water. During the night, it is all about roosting, and thus the birds may be less interested in drinking.

When you supply water in the coop at night, it may attract wild animals, parasites, and other unwanted bugs. As a result, your poultry may be negatively affected healthwise, like not having enough sleep due to annoying and frightening pests and animals.

What to do if chickens have gone without water for too long

If your birds have been without water for an unhealthy period:

First, immediately provide them with lots of water. That is because they are dehydrated and thirsty. Chickens need water to perform daily activities normally in the body. Without sufficient water for many hours, a chicken will have slow digestion, generate less energy, and find it challenging to regulate its body temperature.

Once your chickens are no longer thirsty, avail adequate nutrient-rich food for their consumption. Doing so immediately allows the chicken’s body to generate the required energy for different processes.

If your chicken is provided with food before drinking water, it will have digestion issues. For example, without access to safe, ample water, the crop dries out and fails to moisten the food to be properly digested.

The feed that you give your flock should be wet to allow easy digestion. Boil or soak the whole grains and provide them to your birds to replenish their energy levels.

How to provide water to your flock

How you give water to chickens depends on the method used to raise them. If they are free-ranging in a field, choose a shade and keep the water in a large basin so they can access it without any limitations. If they are in a coop, then you will have to get water to avoid spillage, which can make the coop smell, especially if their droppings are not cleaned.

1. Place the waterers in a raised position

Chickens are notorious for their ability to muddy any water, either by washing off their beaks while drinking or by inserting in their dirty feet. Avoid positioning a waterer or water container on the ground level. One reason is that poor quality may pose health issues to your flock.

Elevating the containers or waterers to be off the ground is a better way of preventing the dirtying of the water by chickens. Though the water must be easily accessible to the birds.

Clean the poultry watering device frequently to safeguard against bacteria attacks and infections. Provide also different sources of water. Since a single bird can drink about 500 ml of water or more, providing multiple waterers can save you from having to regularly refill during hot days or when you have a larger flock.

Note that chickens should only bathe when it is very necessary. They should also not be wet all the time. Too much water in their body can stress and decrease their production rate. This is why their drinking water should be moderated and placed in high positions where they cannot spill it.

2. Keep the water sources protected from direct sunlight

When water sources for hens and roosters are exposed to direct sunlight, especially during hot periods, the water will heat up and evaporate. Depleting water will leave your poultry with less water, making them feel more thirsty, dehydrated, and stressed. Remember, birds do not like to drink too warm water.

Keeping waterers in the shade will discourage water loss through evaporation and eliminate the need for regular refilling.

3. Place the containers away from wild animals and birds

The water containers should be accessible only to your flock. Sharing your water sources with wild birds and animals may make your chickens not have sufficient drinking water. And contact with wild birds may lead to the infection of your poultry with dangerous worms and diseases.

4. Mix the drinking water with apple cider vinegar regularly

This naturally occurring juice can help in boosting the processes of digestion and removal of toxins in chickens.

Remember that healthy, adult chickens cannot live without water for more than 48 hours. However, other different factors may either shorten or lengthen the time it takes to live without drinking water.