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The rearing of chicken is the most, if not one of the most rewarding farming experience that is becoming more and more popular these days. Feeding the chicken is one of the most important tasks when it comes to keeping backyard chicken. Whether you want to start rearing chicken or want to improve the quality of products from your chicken, the most important consideration would be when to gve the chicken food and water.
So, can you give your chickens water at night? Chicken are typically diurnal creatures, meaning they stay awake during the day and sleep during the night. They do not necessarily need food and water at night. However, there are special circumstances such as having brooding hens or chicks where you should have water and food available for your chicken need at night.
So, exactly why do chickens not need water at night? Moreover, what are the few exceptions that they might need water overnight? This article will answer these important questions as well as tell you why chickens need water, and exactly how much water they require in a day.
Reasons why chicken do not Require Water at Night
Just like many animals, chickens are also diurnal. They tend to instinctively wake up at dawn, stay active the whole day, and sleep at dusk. Chickens are even known to regulate their daily schedules to sleep for longer periods when there is minimal daylight, especially in the areas of the world that experience winter with longer nights and shorter days.
Chickens will even sleep throughout the night uninterrupted if they do not experience an issue in their coops such as pests and predators. Since they spend their entire night sleeping, it is not necessary to provide food or water overnight.
Another important reason that chickens do not require water at night is the fact that they are essentially blind at night. Their biological makeup prevents them from having enough rods in their retina to see in the darkness, thus they have poor visibility at night and are very unlikely to find the waterer to quench that midnight thirst if at all they do get to have some.
Some chicken owners may try to solve the night blindness problem by installing fluorescent lights in their coops, but unfortunately, this could cause more issues to the comfort of the chicken. They tend to have some sharp motion-sensing abilities, to a point where the flickering of the bulbs, which is undetectable to human eyes, would irritate the chicken. Except for a few special circumstances as aforementioned, one doesn’t need to feed or provide water to the chicken during the night.
Exceptions When You Should Offer Water to Chicken at Night
There are some instances where it would be beneficial for both the owner and chicken for the chicken to have access to water at night. They include:
Like many animals, newborn chicks tend to start their lives with their days and nights mixed up. It usually takes them a while to develop and adapt to their daily routines; it is highly likely for them to wake up in the middle of the night in search of some much-needed nourishment. Since many people who rear chicken separate the newborn chicks from the mature flock, it is easy to provide water for the new clutch of chicks for easy access at night.
2. Broody Hens
After laying eggs, chickens develop a hormone that stimulates them to sit on and hatch their eggs. They are usually very defensive and can stay camped out on their nest to incubate their eggs in a process that lasts up to 21 days. They are usually very determined to protect and hatch their eggs, which disrupts their feeding routine. They don’t feed or drink during normal hours of the day.
Since your broody hen is not getting an adequate amount of food or water during the day, it is pertinent that you avail the necessities such as water overnight while the hen is egg sitting. It ensures that the hen can take short breaks during the day or night for sustenance while protecting the eggs and keeping them warm.
3. Late Sleepers
Another reason why water should be readily available for the chicken at both day and night time is that it offers some benefits to the owner. When chickens wake up for the day, usually at dawn, they tend to look for food and water. If you happen to be a chicken owner who sleeps late at night, and it is very inconvenient for you to wake up early in the morning to let the chicken out of the coop, then you can leave some water and food to sustain them until you wake up and let them out.
Unfortunately, this only works if you store the water inside their coop. If you have insufficient space inside your coop for water troughs, you should not leave open water troughs outside overnight. It increases the chances of it getting dirt particles, dampening the environment, or even leading to rat infestations. Since chickens are very vulnerable to health problems, your coop is susceptible to infections from bacteria or worse predators who may feed on young chicks. It would be best to cover the water trough overnight if at all the water dispensers are to be left outside.
Why Chicken Need Water
Chickens need water to survive. But how exactly is this? We have broken down some of the various functions that water serves in a chicken’s body:
Water is essential in a chicken’s digestive process as it moistens the food stored in the bird’s crop. With inadequate access to water, a chicken would not be able to get sufficient water for its crop, which would cause it to dry up and inevitably stop digestion.
2. Waste Disposal
It is much easier to eject waste when it is moist rather than dry. Chicken depend on water to help soften up foreign materials, and the hard feeds that happen to get their way into the bird’s digestive system. These birds are not exactly known to be fussy eaters; they can consume almost anything that can fit into their beaks. Therefore, the water helps ensure that whatever the chickens swallow, they will be able to eject it out of their system.
3. Regulating the Temperature
Water regulates a chicken’s body temperature, helping keep them active, cool, and healthy even when temperatures are high outside. Without access to water, the birds cannot rely on this function and either opt to take shelter under a shade or wait until the temperature lowers to go out into the open.
4. Egg Formation
Fun fact, chicken eggs are made up of 70% water. That is why your chicken in full lay must have regular access to water for egg formation. Insufficient water supply is not only a danger for the health, but it will also affect the development of the eggs, leaving the little embryo forming inside vulnerable.
How Much Water Do Chickens Need?
Since it is unnecessary to provide water to chicken overnight in many cases, you have to ensure that your chickens have access to the right amount of nourishment throughout the day. Several factors go into consideration in determining how much water a chicken can drink in a day. The factors include the general outside temperature, size of the bird, how much the chicken eats as well as whether the bird is laying eggs or not.
A typical large adult indoor chicken is known to consume roughly 180 ml to 250 ml of water per day. Therefore, this means that outdoor chicken could easily consume twice as much in a single day. In that regard, you should consider giving outdoor chicken as much as 500 ml of water per bird each day. It also applies to the chicken owners who keep broiler or other meat chicken; they tend to have a higher growth rate. It contributes to higher levels of water consumption.
However, provide as much water as you can to your chicken since there is no harm if your chickens happen to drink more water. Many accomplished chicken keepers prefer providing their birds with a constant source of water, always refilling the chicken water dispensers as needed. This water should always be clean, fresh, and free from contamination by any debris. It is best to change and clean the chicken waterers after every 24 hours, at the minimum.
Note that besides being a necessary commodity for the chicken’s existence, water also tends to affect the chicken’s ability to lay eggs. If the bird lacks access to water for even a few hours in a day, they can cease to lay eggs for several days. Chickens will always drink the water they require throughout the day unless there is an underlying cause such as a medical condition or sickness.
While it may not be harmful to drink water at night, it is not necessary for chicken. It is only necessary for the exceptions of broody hens, or young chicks. It may also be beneficial to have water in the coop overnight if you happen to be a late riser and hate waking up at dawn to let your birds out. Just be sure to provide sufficient water during the day and, the chicken will sort themselves out.