Give your chickens enough water

02 June 2021 | Agriculture



Water is considered one of the most essential sources of nutrition in chicken farming.

The Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU) said it is first and foremost an important component for metabolism and it softens the feed for digestive purposes.

According to Jan Grobbelaar, a chicken farming expert from South Africa, at one stage, he had chicks with constipation.

“The manure stuck to the anus of the chicks and when he tried to remove it, the intestines pulled out as well and the chicks died. Grobbelaar then changed his management by giving chicks water for two hours before they were fed. This quickly solved the problem,” the union said.

The NAU added that water is also responsible for the transport of nutrients, oxygen and hormones in the body, as well as the release of waste products and carbon dioxide from the body.


A day-old chick's body mass consists of 85% water and a 32-week-old hen of 55% water. If the chick or hen loses 10% of its water through dehydration, the chick will not be able to grow, and neither will the hen be able to lay eggs.

If the chick or hen dehydrate by 20%, they could possibly die. Insufficient water intake means that chickens cannot produce meat or eggs.

Meanwhile, the union said if chickens drink too much water, especially when it is hot, this will lead to an increase in water excreted through the manure and the excretion of moisture from their lungs will also be high. Both the manure and moisture have a big influence on the bedding of the chicken house.

“Usually, it causes wet bedding that builds up ammonia. If you enter the chicken house, the ammonia will burn your eyes. If the ammonia can be smelled, it is even more harmful to the chicks. Two of the biggest problems it causes are burns on the chicken's chest and under the feet. These carcasses may be rejected by the abattoir.”