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.
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!
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!
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!