The Chicken Chick®: Keeping Brooder Water Clean- The Riser for Baby Chicks

Dec 7, 2012

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. 

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!
Hardware cloth riser keeps bedding out of chick waterers and makes soiling them more difficult.
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!
Chick water riser in brooder keeps water cleaner longer.
 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! 
Brooder water riser for baby chicks.
Wheaten Marans chicks
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Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®


  1. This is a great idea!  I'm hoping to get more chicks in the Spring and will try this out.

  2. TheChickenChick12/7/12, 7:29 PM

    Thanks Charlotte, it was remarkably simple to make and effective!

  3. Jackie Johnson12/7/12, 10:52 PM

    We used the same type of container for our last chicks. We made a raised floor out of hardware cloth which worked very well. But we also had to wrap the cage in regular screening as one of the chicks (2 days old) was determined to "escape" repeatedly. She earned the name Houdini!

  4. Ingenius! Have our first hatch Christmas Day and will do this!!!

  5. they are sooo cute! :)

  6. 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.

  7. TheChickenChick12/14/12, 1:48 AM

    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. TheChickenChick12/18/12, 11:23 PM

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

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

  10. 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.

  11. If I get or hatch chicks this Spring, (and everyone knows I will!) I'm using your idea for sure.   Thanks

  12. Mary Nickerson1/19/13, 5:07 PM

    You always have such great idea's. This is one I need to remember.

  13. TheChickenChick1/19/13, 9:40 PM

    My pleasure, Pam! Enjoy your new babies!

  14. TheChickenChick1/19/13, 9:57 PM

    Thank you Mary. I hope it helps! :)

  15. Rabbit water bottles are really easy and the water stays nice and clean.  The chicks learn to use the water bottles really quickly.  If you have several chicks, you can always add another bottle.  Using the rabbit water bottles also frees up a lot of floor space for your chicks :)

  16. Gregoria Bacus2/18/13, 9:08 PM

    I find myself coming back to your page quite often these days.  Its my first time raising chicks. Seems like hard work being a chick mom, but look forward to it.  My husband also purchased two Polish hens that were infested with lice.  He dusted them with Seven and have them in quarantine and will re-dust in seven days.  Thanks to your page I new what to do. They are sweetest girls and I feel bad for them. Thanks for all you do and will look forwards your knowledge to help me raise healthier happy hens.

  17. TheChickenChick2/19/13, 10:10 PM

    That's so nice of you to say, Gregoria, thank you. I'm happy to know that you were empowered to fix the problem yourself!

  18. Thank you! I have been trying to find a way to get the chicks from making a mess in their water dishes and food dishes.  I used kitchen cooling racks that were really old and they hop right up there and eat!  Nice and clean.  Thanks again!

  19. Meeks momma5/20/13, 8:59 PM

    Thank you so much! My chicks filled the waterer with shavings so quick but making this riser was quicker! The only thing in the water now is poop and I don't think anything will stop that!

  20. TheChickenChick5/20/13, 9:16 PM

    What will put an end to contaminated water is The Chicken Fountain!

  21. Terri Jacobs9/22/13, 1:47 AM

    Hi Kathy, I just got my 8 chicks the other day. 4 silver laced Wyandottes and 4 Light Brahmas. Thank you for your wonderful website. I have learned so much!

  22. Mikhail Jon Bortolotto10/2/13, 8:39 AM

    Have you tried and what was your success in using water nipples for newly hatched chicks. Certainly they wont be popping in a sealed unit.


  23. TheChickenChick10/2/13, 11:21 PM

    I exclusively use poultry nipple waterers for all of my chickens.

  24. Chickenlolly11/4/13, 5:13 PM

    Thank you for this idea!! I'm going to buy cooling racks now!!!

  25. Patricia Ann Manz Fain3/16/14, 9:33 AM

    Brilliant! Hardware cloth I'm finding has a lot of uses! We just made a whole bunch of water nipple bottles and hubby created a hanger, from a hanger. However I must have missed the part about needing some holes in the other end and had quite a bit of leakage from the nipple end, so back to the drill I go.

  26. Karen Sanders Warner3/16/14, 9:41 AM

    Love easy to do solutions...the sign of a superior mind!

  27. Denise Haymore3/16/14, 9:44 AM

    This is off topic, but I wanted to ask. I have 22 chickens and 3 are roosters. One of them mean and is getting worse everyday. I cannot find anyone to take him and I don't know that I should given that he's mean. Thoughts?

  28. scrambledmess3/16/14, 11:11 AM

    Perfect timing for this post. I have been using a plate to lift the waterer. But it hasn't been high enough. I am still changing the water twice a day. Off to town to buy some hardware cloth. Thanks for the tip.

  29. Sandie McGann3/16/14, 11:32 AM

    I am having the same issue keeping the chicks water clean. This is a fantastic idea. I have learned a lot from your website. Thank you!

  30. Gina Cara Van Dusen3/16/14, 6:17 PM

    Your little ones are so adorable!

  31. Peggy Clay Bougeus3/16/14, 7:43 PM

    When I saw this post, I immediately made risers for my 3-week old chicks. So far it seems to be a success! No shavings I. The food, and very few I. The water. I also have a nipple waterer in there, and I know they're using it at least part of the time. Thanks for the suggestion!

  32. TheChickenChick3/16/14, 8:33 PM

    Try someone with a large farm where his protective instincts will be helpful.