How to Clean Chicken Water Tubs

Books by Janet Garman of Timber Creek Farm

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How to Clean Chicken Water Tubs

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clean chicken water tubsClean chicken water tubs must be a priority as the heat rises. As the heat of summer continues, nothing is as important to our chickens and livestock as clean drinking water. I mention chickens, but this task is extremely important for all animals. Think about your own thirst. You go to take a drink but your glass of water was left in the sun since yesterday. You take a swig. Ewww! That isn’t what I expected at all. So I only drink a small amount and put the glass down. This is what your animals do when the water is less palatable. They drink, but not nearly enough to combat the dehydration from the summer temperatures. With a small amount of time, you can keep clean chicken water tubs, and livestock water buckets filled with fresh water for your animals.

clean chicken water tubs

What Chicken and Livestock Water Containers Do We Use?

Due to the high level of iron in our well water, I have found that the black rubber feed tubs are the best for our farm for both feed and water. Larger livestock have black rubber feed bowls in the appropriate size and rubber buckets for water. The durability of this product seems to surpass other plastics and metal style water founts we have used before. Plus they come in multiple sizes from one gallon to many gallons. Our chicks are currently using one as a dust bath in the brooder coop.

As you will see in the video portion of this post, the plastic founts turned an orange color from the iron in our water. This is a stain and makes the water container appear gross and dirty. It’s very hard to clean it and I prefer not to use these after the chicks get old enough to use a tub  of water.

The galvanized metal founts are nice. They keep the water clean, and keep light from helping algae grow in the container. But iron water and metal don’t do well together. The iron and mineral content in our water causes these water founts to fall apart usually in the first year of use.  The galvanized waterers cost a good bit of money and I hate to see them tossed away so quickly.

The flexible rubber feed bowls last for years on our farm. This is what works for us with our conditions. Whichever watering system works for you is fine, as long as it can be refreshed regularly, and cleaned easily.

Clean Chicken Water Tubs Weekly

At least once a week, I give the water containers, buckets, bowls, founts, a good scrub.  It doesn’t take long and helps maintain a healthy environment. Gathering the supplies takes only seconds. White vinegar, water, and a scrub brush are all I use. You can use Apple Cider Vinegar if you prefer the smell but since it’s being rinsed out anyway, I just use white vinegar. If you are concerned about additional germs from illness or for any reason, you can do a final rinse using this essential oil based poultry cleaner.

The apple cider vinegar shown is not raw apple cider vinegar that is recommended for adding live probiotic culture to your animal’s water. This is the cheaper version which can still clean equally as well as the distilled white. It’s a preference on which one to use.

clean chicken water tubs

Dump out any remaining drinking water, Add vinegar to the bowl. I let it sit a few minutes.  Scrub with a brush to loosen all the gunk, algae and rust sediment. Rinse well. The bowl or water container should look and smell much better, cleaner and ready for a refill.

clean chicken water tubs

In between scrubbing, make sure you refill with clean water every day. The algae and rust form a film, called a biofilm, in the water which affects the taste.  Not many of us would choose to drink a big glass of stale smelly water and our chickens and livestock agree. They may drink some, but not enough to combat the potential dehydration. If you see that the water containers you use have not been depleted much during the day, chances are the water is foul. Dump it out, clean the container and refill. Hopefully that will make a big difference in the amount of water your animals consume.

Water is The Most Important Nutrient

Water is essential to life. When caring for our livestock and poultry, water is the top priority. Hens won’t lay as well, cows and dairy goats won’t produce milk, and dehydration leads to many other problems.

Gail Damerow wrote an interesting article for Countryside Magazine on the biofilm that forms from rust and algae. Algae, being a plant, isn’t necessarily bad. The bad part comes when the water becomes stale and the pH of the water is affected. This can lead to an environment that promotes bacterial growth leading to illness. Read the article to learn much more about the science behind the growth of biofilms from both algae and rust.

Clean Chicken Water Tubs and Livestock Buckets Frequently

Keep all poultry and livestock water fresh

Discard any water containers that have a bad odor after cleaning.

Place the clean chicken water tubs and livestock buckets in the shade to slow algae growth.

Dump outside water containers over night and allow them to air dry. Refill in the morning.

clean chicken water tubs

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