When we first started keeping chickens, we learned pretty quickly that their water gets really filthy, really fast.  I mean, filthy would call this “filthy”.  Whenever the herd of chicks went tottering past the watering container, they naturally kicked up all kinds of shavings and (ahem) other stuff that would fly into the water.  I asked them to slow down and walk and…well…they’re chickens.  I also asked them to stop pooping in their water….again…chickens.

So, on one of my favorite websites Fresh Eggs Daily, someone mentioned that it’s best to keep the water up off the floor.

Honest to Pete, that never ever even occurred to me.  Genius!!

We tried a variety of  things to set the water container on and when the chicks moved out to the coop, we were using two stacked, plastic  hardware organizer boxes.  I know you’ve seen them…opaque white plastic…lots of little squares inside for little parts?  Anyway, Tom had extra ones hanging around in his shop, so we stacked up two and set the water container on there and VOILA.  Clean chicken water for more than 15 seconds.  This might actually stay clean for possibly an hour!  I felt like I’d made a huge breakthrough in my quest to be a responsible chicken keeper.  Yay me!

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We change the water frequently and when ever we do, the weirdest thing happens CONSISTENTLY.  When we remove the water container from the stack of plastic boxes, the chickens hustle over and start pecking it…TAP…TAP…TAP…TAPPITY…TAP.


It happens every single time!  And it’s not just a curious TAP and then they walk away.  It’s several of them and they gather around that box and tap their beaks like they’re on the Titanic sending frantic mayday messages.

They TAP and TAP and TAP until we finally either shoo them off so that we can put the water back down, or I show up with a handful of chicken scratch to distract them.  Watch this video…it’s short…and then explain to me what the heck is going on, because I’ve got NUTHIN.


It’s like a live chicken performance of Blue Man Group.

Me. Always the weird animals…ALWAYS.

9 thoughts on “Tappity-tap.

  1. We took a metal hangar, bent it so its LONG w hook on one end. Hooked that to the waterer & hooked the other end over a screw so its 8″ off the ground! They can reach it to drink AND when its warm they actually push on it to splash it around! Maybe they just feel the need for a shower but the waterer doesn’t get very dirty anymore!

  2. Rule of thumb is to set or hang a waterer so it is level with their backs. This means raising it often as they grow. This serves to:
    1. Keep bedding out of it
    2. Stop them fouling it because when it’s lower, as they reach down to drink, the crop empties into it

    Also be aware, if you are adding apple cider vinegar to the water, do NOT use a metal waterer. The vinegar will leach the zinc from the metal.

    For feeders, again set them at back height. This keeps the feed clean from bedding, and helps stop waste. Chickens select the choicest morsels and fling the rest to the floor. Preventing this flinging has cut our feed bills in half. With organic feed, this is a significant savings.

  3. They’re just such curious little creatures! They’re learning to peck at things and figuring out what’s good and what isn’t. I honestly think they just like the sound it makes. I put my waterer up on bricks and it never fails, every stinkin’ time there’s 20 chicks fighting to be king of the mountain so they can peck it 🙂 They’re wonderful, aren’t they?

  4. CHICKEN NIPPLES are hands down the greatest invention in the history of mankind. You can get them for pretty cheap on eBay. Get a bucket of any size (with a lid) and drill a few holes in the bottom. Then you just screw in the chicken nipples and hang it from a chain at about chicken head-height. They are red and the chickens, being the curious creatures they are, peck at them which releases the water. Even newborn chicks can use them, i usually left the other waterer in there for a couple days until i was certain they understood how to use it, which they always do rather quickly.
    The water always stays perfectly clean!!
    You will need an odd sized drill bit (I think it’s 11/32) that you can order as well for a few bucks (hardware stores don’t often carry that size bit).
    Do yourself a favor and try some chicken nipples! You won’t regret it 🙂
    Thanks for writing such an awesome blog.
    xoxo, Missa

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