Backyard Poultry

Animal Hydration Hacks for Your Homestead

Hobby Farm : Hobby Farming

Patrick Biggs, Ph.D.

Nutritionist, Companion Animal Technical Solutions

When temperatures heat up, don’t forget the importance of water to the farm animals that call your backyard home. Some animals consume up to twice as much water in the sweltering heat of summer.
Fresh, clean water is essential to help animals:
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Maintain feed intake and digestion
  • Enhance metabolism
  • Lubricate joints
  • Eliminate waste
Here are some tips to help your backyard animals stay hydrated this summer.
Provide extra sources of water for farm animals. Extra waterers ensure weak or timid animals don’t have to fight for their water access.
Ensure adequate water flow. When using automatic waterers, make sure your flow rate refills quickly enough to satisfy animals’ thirst.
Place waterers in shady areas. You don’t want to drink hot water, and your animals don’t either!
Stabilize waterers. Set up waterers so they can’t be knocked over.
Assess waterer height. Ensure your smallest animal can reach water, even if it’s not full.
Refill water twice a day. Fresh, cool water will encourage hydration. 
Freeze water in storage containers. Use the resulting ice block to keep the water cooler longer.
Clean waterers. It doesn’t matter how clean your water is if it’s in a dirty tank. Wash waterers weekly with soap and water. Rinse thoroughly.
Provide electrolytes for animals. Electrolytes can help provide extra hydration when temperatures heat up.

Signs of dehydration in farm animals
In scorching temps, dehydration can hit your animals quickly. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms is vital. Common signs of dehydration in all species are lethargy, appetite loss and irritability.
Additional species-specific dehydration signs include:
  • Chickens – Pale comb and wattles, panting, limpness
  • Rabbits – Dark urine, panting, crusty eyes
  • Goats – Low body temperature, sunken eyes, dry membranes, weakness
  • Pigs – Constipation, skin irritation, disorientation
Keeping fresh, cool water available should be a top priority to keep your animals happy and hydrated.
In addition to clean, fresh water, provide plenty of shade, pools or ponds for ducks and other species, and ventilation for any indoor housing to keep animals cool all summer long.

The bottom line: Animal hydration is crucial

Adequate hydration is key to keeping animals happy through the dog days of summer. Ready to start or expand your hobby farm? Check out our Feed Greatness® Challenge to receive feed coupons.

Related Articles:

Summer Flock Care: How to Keep Chickens Cool
How to Keep Horses Cool in Hot Weather
Weather Effects on Rabbits
How to Get Started Rasing Backyard Goats
Hobby Farm Ideas: Expanding Beyond Backyard Chickens
Growing Your Flock with Different Types of Ducks and Geese