It is important for your chickens and other poultry to always have access to an adequate supply of clean, fresh drinking water. This is even more important during hot weather, when a chicken’s water requirements increase significantly.
When chickens don’t have enough water, they can quickly become dehydrated. Hens that lack sufficient water will produce fewer eggs. Going without water too long can force a hen into a molt, which may stop her egg production entirely. Young chickens that are still growing will grow more slowly if they don’t have sufficient water.
Several factors can cause chickens to fail to get enough water even when water is available. One factor is water temperature. Chickens prefer a water temperature of 55° F. If water is hotter or colder than the ideal temperature, they will drink less of it. Keep waterers in the shade during the summer months so that the water will stay cooler. Palatability is another factor. If water does not taste good to the chickens, they will drink less. Dissolved minerals and medications can cause water to be less palatable. Avoid adding medications to chicken waterers during hot weather.
For more information on water, dehydration, and heat stress, see The Chicken Health Handbook, by Gail Damerow.