Keeping Brooder Water Clean- The Riser for Baby Chicks

When raising baby chicks, keeping the water clean in their brooder can be a major challenge. Busy chicks kick shavings into the waterer and always find a way to poop in it.

When raising baby chicks, keeping the water clean in their brooder can be a major challenge. Busy chicks kick shavings into the waterer and always find a way to poop in it. By far, my preference is to use poultry nipple waterers, however, it is not always possible to hang a bottle of water from the side of the brooder, particularly when utilizing a cardboard box.

Cardboard boxes make great brooders for baby chicks, but boxes can make hanging poultry nipple waterers difficult.

Chicks also step in and splash water, which leads to wet litter and when chicks eat feed off the wet, soiled brooder floor, that can lead to a disease called coccidiosis. Cocci  is the #1 killer of baby chicks and a clean, dry brooder is critical to keeping them alive and healthy.

Hardware cloth riser keeps bedding out of chick waterers and makes soiling them more difficult.

My attempt to keep traditional chick waterers cleaner longer was to fashion a simple riser to get the water up out of the way of the litter and out of the way of chick butts. Four bends in a piece of hardware cloth is all it takes to create the riser. The riser measures 4 inches from the floor, low enough for the chicks to be able to hop up onto and not walk underneath. The surface is only large enough for the feeder and waterer and a few chicks to fit on it at the same time- no extra room for playing. I wasn’t sure if the hardware cloth alone would be strong enough to support a full waterer, feeder and two chicks, but it is!

Chick water riser in brooder keeps water cleaner longer.

I placed a sheet pan on the brooder floor, lined the sheet pan with shavings and placed the hardware cloth riser on top of the sheet pan. The sheet pan and shavings catch any spills and the chicks are unable to play on or eat out of the wet shavings. Most notably, they have been unable to find a way to poop in the water 99% of the time! Right on!

Brooder water riser for baby chicks.

The chicks are 4 weeks old today and are tall enough to reach the water without climbing onto the riser and their water stays clean!

Wheaten Marans chicks
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

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Sarah Eller
Sarah Eller
8 years ago

I do something simular. 🙂 I put a heavy layer of shavings in, push in a small butter bowl large side up, then use a heavy duty coffee can lid as a table top type thing. One for the water and one for the feed. keeps it clean and from tipping. It's like eating from the table, lol. Thanks for the great idea with the wire! love it.

Nancy Jones
8 years ago

Someone needs to go to the barn and cut herself some cloth thankyou for the tip! Again as I forget last time.

8 years ago

So exciting! Good luck, let me know how it goes!

8 years ago

I did know that, Heather, but thank you. This is my first pair of Wheatens. I wish I could keep him. 🙁
I would love to hatch some Wheaten Amers, I have black and blue in my flock now. The Wheatens are so pretty!
Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment!

8 years ago

That looks great!  I will definitely try this idea.  I like to use bottles, too, but there are definitely times when its overkill.  By the way – and you probably already know – but it looks like you have a pair there!  Perfect! Wheatens are easy to sex because they feather in so differently.  I hatched Wheaten Ameraucanas and really enjoyed the easy sexing.