Just like with all animals, water is essential for survival and to carry out many bodily processes, such as regulating body temperature, digesting food, and eliminating waste.
I’m sure we’ve all had an experience where we wake up in the middle of the night and have to get a drink of water to quench our thirst before going back to bed. So, does this experience happen to chickens too: do chickens need water at night?
It’s a common debate, as normally chickens will be shut in their coop overnight and not have access to the food and water in the run.
Here’s whether chickens need water at night, how long chickens can go without water, and when to put the water feeder inside the coop.
Do Chickens Need Water At Night?
It’s a fair question to ask if chickens need water at night. Especially as a good portion of backyard chicken owners close the coop at night, cutting off the access to food and water in the run for their chickens overnight.
But, the truth is, even if you let your chickens have access to water overnight they usually won’t drink it until morning. This is because chickens are diurnal birds, which means they are active during the day and naturally sleep through the night.
Chickens even regulate their sleep schedule to sleep through the long hours of the night in winter, and shorter hours in the summer.
Furthermore, even if your chickens wake during the night, they are highly unlikely to move from their perch. Not only do chickens have poor vision at night, they feel increasingly vulnerable in the dark, so even if they’re thirsty they will prefer to wait it out than put themselves in perceived danger.
So, although there may be rare instances where your chickens will drink water at night, it’s simply not necessary to put their water feeder inside the coop as they sleep.
However, since your chickens won’t drink water overnight it’s essential you provide them clean, accessible water in the morning and throughout the day.
How Long Can Chickens Go Without Water
Like most birds, water is absolutely essential for survival. Chickens especially require sufficient water to help them keep up with their busy schedules of constant foraging, bathing, and egg-producing!
But how long can chickens go without water?
The consensus is, in normal conditions chickens can go for about 48 hours without access to any water before they start to severely dehydrate and begin to perish. In hot and sunny conditions, chickens will actually start showing signs of harmful dehydration after only 12 hours.
So, it’s perfectly OK for your chickens not to have access to or drink water overnight, as they’ll be completely safe and won’t begin to show signs of dehydration till a lot longer than just overnight. Particularly as your chickens will be inactive and sleeping during the night so they’ll be conserving what hydration they have.
When To Put Water Inside The Coop
Although chickens don’t normally drink water at night, even when it’s available to them, there are several circumstances when you may reconsider and put the water and feeder inside the coop.
If You’ve Closed Your Chickens In
As we know chickens are early risers, tending to wake up and get active as soon as the sun comes up. If you’ve got an enclosed run with a coop inside it, then you’ll likely just leave the coop door open so the chickens can wander out to their food and water at their leisure.
But, if you choose to shut your chickens in at night, or if you’ve closed the coop door to outlast a nasty storm, then you should ensure you’ve put their water and food inside where they can access it.
Even if you are just shutting the coop for a few hours during the day for any reason, you should still ensure your chickens have access to water, particularly if it’s a hot day.
If You Have Stubbornly Broody Hens Sitting on Eggs
We all know the pleasures of having a broody hen. Outright refusing to move from their nesting box and hardly getting up to drink, eat, or clean themselves.
Although broody hens will always remember to eat, drink, and take care of themselves, they don’t do it as their normal priority. It’s perfectly fine to let your broody hens get over it, so long as they have access to food and water. But if you’ve got unusually broody hens and you’re getting a bit concerned then there’s no harm in placing some water in their coop for them.
If You’ve Got Chicks
Chicks and young pullets need water more frequently than adult chickens, so it’s important they always have access to fresh water. Dehydration at such a young age can cause much more severe effects which may be long-lasting.
For this reason, you may put water in their coop just in case. But, as long as they at least have access to water in the run they’ll be fine.
Water Must Be Appealing To Your Chickens
Even though chickens don’t tend to drink water at night, it doesn’t mean water isn’t still vitally important for your chooks, so you want to ensure they are always getting enough.
If your chicken’s water is too warm, frozen over, or too dirty, it will discourage your chickens from drinking as frequently. Although they may not suffer from any severe effects of dehydration, even slight dehydration will start to take effect in their activity, egg production, and digestion.
For this reason, you should always make your best effort to have fresh, clean, and cool water for your chickens during the day.
To Sum Up
Chickens don’t actually need water at night, so you don’t need to place their water inside their coop for them. Not only can chickens comfortably last all night without water, but they also won’t even tend to drink it if it’s offered to them.
But, if you choose to shut your chickens in the coop at night, or you’ve just done it to weather a storm, you should always make sure they have access to some clean, fresh water. The same goes for if you’ve got some unusually broody hens or any baby chicks.
Otherwise, don’t stress. As long as chickens have access to water in the morning either in the run or elsewhere, they’ll be perfectly fine.