Can Chickens Drink Rainwater? Benefits & Risks

Chickens like drinking rainwater. As a backyard chicken owner, you might find your chickens preferring the rainwater puddles in your yard over the groundwater in their waterers.

Rainwater is 100% safe because the risk of contamination and illness is minimal.

Although fresh rainwater won’t harm your fowl, your birds can be at risk of worms and disease if they drink stagnant rainwater.

Is Rainwater Safe for Chickens?

Yes, rainwater is safe for your chickens, as it is safe for humans and other creatures. If you have backyard chickens, you will agree on how hard it’s to stop the birds from drinking rainwater.

That’s why chickens will prefer rainwater over freshwater in their waterers. Many homesteaders usually collect rainwater for their chickens.

Consider collecting rainwater for your fowl, especially if you are a resourceful homesteader. However, there is a considerable difference between stagnant, muddy water and fresh rainwater.

The latter is unsafe for chickens because it harbors germs, bacteria, and pathogens.

Parasites and nasty, tiny creatures breed in stagnant muddy water. Although you can make such water safe for your chickens by boiling it, it can get somewhat gross if it’s murky.

Chickens are resilient, unlike humans and other animals when it gets to drinking and eating whatever they get outdoors. Nonetheless, your birds will be taking a significant risk by drinking stagnant and muddy water because they might pick parasites and worms from stagnant water.

Consequently, try dispersing puddles and discourage your chickens from drinking dirty, stagnant, and muddy water.

Green rainwater is also unsafe for chickens because the green color in stagnant rainwater is a sign of algae.

Exposure to algae can expose your fowl to health problems, including pale combs, weakness, loss of appetite, bloody droppings, diarrhea, and lethargy. Furthermore, exposure to algae can expose your chickens to poisoning.

So, dispel any stagnant green rainwater to protect your chickens from multiple health issues they are likely to get after drinking green rainwater.

Pros and Cons of Using Rainwater for Chickens

Rainwater from water tanks and rain barrels can be safe for chickens and humans, especially if you make it safe through purification and filtration.

You can get rainwater filter systems to ensure the rainwater you give your fowl is 100% safe and devoid of any contaminants.

Like with other water sources for chickens, rainwater has cons and pros.

Pros of Using Rainwater for Chickens

Here are a couple of advantages of using rainwater for your chickens:

  • Chemical-free– Rainwater is chemical-free, meaning it doesn’t have chemicals like fluoride and chlorine, unlike water from municipal or city water treatment facilities. Chickens can get numerous health conditions upon drinking water with high levels of fluoride and chlorine. So rainwater is an excellent source of chemical-free drinking water for chickens and humans.
  • An inexpensive water source-One of the significant pros of using rainwater for chickens is that it is a 100% free source of clean and chemical-free water for domestic fowl. Rainwater can help you avoid the high water bills you would otherwise incur if you water your birds with water from municipal or city water facilities. Collecting rainwater for your chickens can dramatically reduce your yearly water bills.
  • It is easy to collect and store rainwater for your chickens– Collecting and storing rainwater for your chickens can be an inexpensive investment in the long run. For instance, you only need a water harvesting system to collect rainwater for your birds. A few storage tanks are enough to help you store rainwater for your chickens. A straightforward way of collecting rainwater is installing rain gutters on your house’s roof and directing the rainwater to the storage tank.
  • No need to use groundwater-As the global population continues to grow, the world’s aquifers and groundwater sources are under pressure. By using rainwater on your birds, you will be helping in the preservation of groundwater you will require to water your chickens. The few gallons of rainwater you will use on your chickens can help save millions of gallons of groundwater annually.
  • Rainwater is environmentally friendly-Using rainwater on your chickens can be a great way of lowering your carbon footprint. Using clean groundwater on your chickens can be an unsustainable practice in the long run. So you will be doing justice to the environment if you use fresh rainwater on your chickens instead of using the groundwater in local water facilities.

Cons of Using Rainwater on Chickens

Although backyard chickens keepers can benefit from using rainwater on their fowl instead of groundwater, there are cons to using rainwater on your birds.

These are some of the cons of using rainwater on your chickens you must know to help you decide whether or not to use rainwater on your birds:

  • Unpredictable rainfall– Rainwater isn’t always available for humans and domestic animals, including chickens. It’s hard to predict rainfall because abundance or scarcity of rain can affect the rainwater supply. So it isn’t prudent to depend entirely on rainwater for watering your chickens.
  • Risk of airborne pollutants– Although rainwater doesn’t contain fluorine and chlorine, it can have a high concentration of airborne contaminants. These airborne pollutants are equally harmful to your chickens as the chemicals in local water facilities.
  • Cost of harvesting rainwater– The initial cost of harvesting rainwater for your chickens can be expensive, depending on the rainwater harvesting system you are using and the number of chickens you raise. A sound rainwater harvesting system can cost between $200 and $2000.

Alternative Water Sources for Chickens

Rainwater may be safe for your chickens, but it isn’t always sustainable and available for chickens.

So, you will have to seek alternative water sources for your chickens. Stormwater is an excellent alternative water source for chickens. Water from water bodies like streams, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs can make great water sources for chickens.

Recycled wastewater is suitable for chickens, particularly for urban dwellers raising chickens on their properties.

Regardless of the water source you are using to water your birds, it’s wise to ensure the water from that particular source is safe and clean.


Chickens can drink rainwater since it is safe. Rainwater is also an inexpensive water source for chickens.

Furthermore, it’s environmentally friendly and readily available with plenty of rainfall.

However, try getting alternative water sources for your chickens if you can’t get enough fresh rainwater for the chooks.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *