Algae is a chlorophyll-containing, mainly aquatic eukaryotic organism, or more commonly referred to as the green stuff one finds in stagnant water. You can grow this stuff if you let water sit for awhile, especially if it’s warm outside and the water has sunlight shining on it. But most people don’t like it, and neither do our chickens. I’ve grown tired of cleaning out the water bucket every week, so I needed to stop the algae from growing when the chicken water grows sits for a few days. Fortunately, there are a few solutions to this problems, one of them being quite easy and natural.
The least easiest is what I’ve been doing. Take down the water bucket, empty it, scrub the algae out from the bottom, then refill it. The problem is, if you don’t get all the algae out, it grows back even quicker. Highly recommend you not use bleach or other solvents because they are 1) bad for your chickens, and 2) they can break down the BPA and HDPE free plastic water bucket.
The second thing you can do is move the bucket out of the sunlight. If you can wrap it in an opaque material, this is even better. The goal here it to remove all sunlight from hitting the water, although this is easier said than done. You can’t keep it in complete darkness because the chickens won’t find it. Also don’t put it inside the coop! Chickens are slobs and it’ll create a mess. This will generate too much humidity, which is really bad for the chickens.
Another option is to add chemicals, but I highly recommend not doing this. I’ve heard some people add a tiny bit of chlorine, but that just sounds like a really bad idea. Pool water is not good for you, or your chickens. It’s why you puke if you inadvertently drink too much and your eyes turn bloodshot red. Furthermore, the chlorine will be ingested by the chicken and passed to the egg. Then you too will be eating chlorine. There are other supposedly non-toxic chemical solutions, but I have found an organic one that works.
Add about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to a 5 gallon container of water. This will increase the acidity level in the water making it darn near impossible for algae to grow. Make sure you shake the vinegar before using it.
Our chicken water bucket is still in the sun, but I have not seen any algae growing at the bottom since I started adding the apple cider vinegar. You can buy a 16oz bottle for about $7.00 or so on the web, but I’m sure you can find it in your local grocery store as well. Remember, you won’t need a lot. A little goes a long way and a 16oz bottle should last about a year, but I guess that depends on how many chickens you have (we have six hens). The cool thing is, the chickens don’t mind the change in taste and the vinegar helps keep their vent clean. Give it a shot! It’s a great all organic solution.