Drinking Water


Providing your ducks with water is a simple yet important subject. After all, ducks are WATERfowl.

Most people use commercial water tubs like this:

A commercial water tub.
A commercial waterer/drinker.

The water is held in the white reservoir and spills out a small gap near the bottom, filling the red portion. The water inside the white bucket remains relatively clean until let out, no matter how dirty the accessible water is. These tubs work well and don’t leave much room for messiness. Of course, ducks, the mess experts that they are, will always find some way to splash water everywhere surrounding any source of water, but these minimize mess as much as possible.

When we had nothing else for our ducks to swim or dip their face in (it’s essential that a duck be able to rinse its nostrils and face), we removed the red part and flipped the white bucket upside down for the ducks to drink out of. A regular five-gallon bucket is too tall – the ducks can’t reach in. However, open water tubs or bowls are extremely messy inside as the ducks will splash in it and try to swim.

Your ducks will also drink from whatever they swim in, so if you have a pond or a swimming tub outside, there’s usually no need for a water tub outside, except for ducklings that can’t access a tall tub.

Just as for feeders, it’s often better to have more than one water tub to ensure that all ducks have access; but more importantly, so that they don’t run out of water when you’re not around. Once our ducks drank their entire tub of water during the night, and in the morning they had nothing left. After that incident, we added a second tub. Ducks drink a lot! (Or maybe they drink just as much as chickens, and use the rest to play in or make mud with.)

I use small three-gallon buckets. I’m not worried about spillage, because my ducks currently spend their nights in a movable pen (a “duck tractor”), and I move it every day. During the day, they free-range, so I have room to move the water buckets and bathtubs around to prevent any major collection of mud.

Refilling the ducks' water tub.
Refilling the ducks’ water tub.

Water tubs need to be cleaned every day or two. Simply empty them, scrub the inside with an old brush , and refill. Algae may grow and should be scrubbed away. Don’t use any harsh chemicals, but every once in a while you can use some dish soap if you want. It’s impossible to constantly keep duck water impeccably crystal clear, as ducks are masters of turning water murky by taking baths and rinsing their mouths in the tub. Ducklings, especially, are notoriously messy.

Be sure your ducks have something they can at least submerge their faces in. Ducks must be able to submerge their nostrils and face in water occasionally, and commercial drinkers often are too shallow to serve as the only type of water tub around.