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Q: Could my baby chicks really drown in their waterer or water dish?

A:

It seems like a strange question... but the answer is YES. Baby chicks can actually drown in a waterer, particularly if it is larger and designed for adult chickens, and particularly if the chick is very young and hasn't developed good coordination, yet, or if the chick is ill or weak.

What happens is that a chick can jump into the water trough to drink, and then find the sides too high or slippery to get out. And even if the chick has not jumped into the waterer, baby chicks---like other babies---can sometimes just fall asleep where they stand. If they're standing over a waterer when they tumble over, obviously that can be bad news! Additionally, chicks can get drenched, trapped or seriously hurt if a waterer overturns, which can happen sometimes as chicks get animated and knock into a waterer or try to jump on top of it. So be sure to take appropriate precautions to prevent your baby chicks drowning in their waterer.

Chick Waterer Precautions

To prevent baby chicks from drowning in their waterer


1. Use a small waterer designed for baby chicks. Such waterers will normally be too small for chicks to jump into, and too shallow to fully drench the babies.
2. Set the waterer up high enough so that a chick can easily drink from the trough, but can't accidentally fall in.
3. Place the waterer on a secure surface within the brooder. A waterer sitting on bedding, even if perfectly level at first, can get tipped over as chicks scratch around and dig out the litter, and if it falls it could hurt your chicks.
4. If you must use a larger waterer from some reason, fill the trough up with clean marbles or stones so that the chicks can drink from the iterstices, but not fall in.
5. Use a "brooder bottle" or nipple-style waterer.

Now that you know all the tricks, can you see ways to improve this set-up?

baby chick and waterer