DIY Automatic Chicken Watering System for Under $10

SinDelle runs the Georgia Herb & Egg Co. on her homestead in Dublin, GA.

When you have a large amount of chickens such as we do (40+), hauling water every day can be a huge chore. In this Georgia heat, even just a few hours without water can be deadly for livestock.

What if you get stuck in town overnight? What will the chickens do for water? What if you don't have a well (we don't), or you just don't feel like hauling it every day (we don't)?

Here's how to build your own five-gallon automatic water dispenser for $10 or less!

You will need:

  • 4-6 nipple waterers, $5 at Tractor Supply Co.
  • 5 gallon bucket with a lid, $5 at TSC or Home Depot
  • drill
  • 3/8
  • pliers

How to Build Your Own Chicken Watering System

  1. Drill your hole (horizontal should be placed 4" up from bucket bottom, vertical should be placed underneath, about an inch in from bucket edge).
  2. Clean up any rough edges around the hole so that it's smooth.
  3. Place nipple in the hole and screw it in, using pliers when it becomes too difficult to turn by hand.
  4. There is a clear rubber gasket on the nipple. Tighten nipple until the gasket creates a seal around the base of the nipple. You will be able to see it.
  5. Fill bucket with water and test for leaks. There should not be any. If it leaks, clean up the edges of the hole again and re-fit the nipple, tightening until you can see the gasket around the entire base of the nipple.
  6. Place the watering system at a height where the chickens can comfortably reach the nipple.
  7. Test the nipple to make sure water flows freely.

That's it!

Additional Tips

The lid is important in order to keep algae from growing in the water and to keep it bug-free. Also, your chickens could fall in! You can use a small hook to secure the bucket to the side of the coop if you like. We placed a small tray under it, just in case it leaks. Ours has not leaked, but we are very water-conscious. The chickens love these things!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on October 20, 2017:

now that is a clever idea! Can I use it for my cat?

Yes, chickens love apple cider vinegar, and it’s easiest to offer it to your flock in water. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per 1 gallon of water. You can learn more about apple cider vinegar and chickens here.

Which do you think is the best chicken waterer? Leave a comment below!

Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Top DIY Chicken Waterers

When it comes to giving a steady supply of water for chickens, a lot of newbies feel it's as simple as putting water in an old dish – the way they feed their cats and dogs. Unfortunately, it's not the same with chickens. Water is a vital need for all living beings after all –man, animals, plants. So, choosing a chicken waterer is a serious matter.
But buying a commercial waterer may not get you the best bang for your buck. Besides, not all waterers are made equal and since you know your chickens better, you can make an easy and effective chicken waterer that won't break the bank. Here are some ideas:

This is a very simple watering system that makes the urban chicken farmer's life a lot simpler. You'll need three watering nipples from Farm Tek, a five-gallon bucket, 8 to 10 feet of 3/4 inch PVC pipe, two elbows, a cap, and a coupler, and away you go. Check out this waterer here.

Who would have thought that a laundry bucket could serve a more effective purpose? It's durable enough to last a long time, and because of the lid, the water stays clean. Check out this ingenuity here.

Sure it sounds like a futuristic waterer, but it's really simple to make and is just as cool as a futuristic chicken waterer. Check it out here.

Algae build-up, which is common in many chicken waterers, is quite a tough problem to find a solution for. This chicken waterer, however, did the trick. Check it out here.

I'm sure you got some empty milk jugs lying around. If you don't know what to do with them and you have thirsty chickens out in your coop, check out this creative idea for a homemade chicken waterer. Learn more here.

Tired of carrying water to the flock every single day? Here's an ingenious chicken waterer that doesn't need you to refill it with water, since it's automatic. Yes, that's possible. Check it out here.

Clean water is a basic necessity for both humans, plants, and animals--chickens included. Sometimes, ordinary waterers cannot guarantee the potability of the water for your chickens. This homemade waterer, however, fixed this dilemma. How? Check it out here.

Different seasons necessitate different ways to provide your chickens' basic needs. With this waterer, though, you don't have to worry if it's winter, spring, summer, or fall--this waterer will still do its job regardless of the season. Check it out here.

If you have other pets aside from chickens, this waterer would work best for you. It is also automatically refilled, so you don't have to carry loads of water to replenish its supply. Check it out here.

Are you looking for an intricately-made DIY chicken waterer that's well-constructed but affordable as well? We got you. Check out this neatly-made chicken waterer that could inspire you to make your own for your flock. See it here.

These are 10 of the best homemade waterers in the Feeder and Waterers section of the Learning Center. Which one is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments!

If you liked this list, check our some of the other great lists we have here: BYC Top Lists!

My PVC "True Auto" Waterer

More options

Desert Chickens


Hello all, 1st post! My wife and I are new to the chicken world and about a month ago we decided to build a coop and get a few pullets to raise for pets and eggs. We started with a dog bowl for water and seeing how dirty that was after a short day I decided to do some research on a cleaner cheaper system that would require minimal maintenance. So after searching on the web for products I didn't really find anything that interested me so I decided to build my own. I had already built a semi automatic food feeder which was just a 4" PVC hopper set up with an elbow that are seen on this forum quite a bit. I get away with filing it once a week and that works great for my wife and I. On to the waterer, I saw a lot of bucket style feeders with pvc pipe leading down to a nipple system and Iiked the design, but it still required you to fill it and clean it out once in a while. I built on that concept and turned it into a sealed system that should require no maintenance if it works as planned. I hooked it up yesterday and all of the birds have taken to it and seems as if it is going to do the job. Time will tell. This system can be expanded to accommodate for how many birds you may have, here are the details:

Here is the parts list:
4" PVC about 12"
4" PVC caps (2)
PVC primer and glue
screw in nipples (found on fleabay)
3/4" PVC sized to your needs
3/4" caps (2)
Toilet fill valve
11/32" drill bit for the nipple feeders
plastic bulkhead fitting for a swamp cooler

PVC Hose thread to 3/4" slip fitting
Teflon tape or silicon

I think that is it for parts, it came in under 30 dollars for everything listed above besides the pvc primer, glue, teflon tape and the drill bits as I had them at home already. On with the construction and design:

I started with the 4” cap and drilled the 7/8” hole to accommodate the toilet fill valve. Notice I off set the hole as the fill valve is not centered on its pipe, make sure and see how it will fit inside the 4” PVC Tube so that it operates freely and drill accordingly. I then drilled the 3/4” hole for the bulkhead fitting that will eventually feed the nipples below. Next I put together the bulkhead fitting and installed it on the cap.

Using the remianing 7/8" hole I installed the toilet fill valve and installed the cap over the pipe and made sure that it operated freely inside the PVC pipe before securing the fittings.

This is what it looks like from the outside before sliding it together.

I then attached the toilet supply line to the fill valve threads, and on the opposite side attached the 1/2" coupler to the 1/2" to garden hose fitting, this is where the garden hose will be attached. I also attached the garden hose to 3/4 slip connector to the bulkhead fitting that will feed the PVC to the nipples. The 3/4' PVC can be cut to size depending on how long you need it, mine was only 10" or so. The PVC T fitting gets glued to the bottom and then feeds the pipe to the nipples.

Nipples and final assembly. The last step was to drill the 11/32" recommended holes to fit the nipples. I have 11 hens so I decided 6 nipples should do the job. I wrapped up the nipple threads in teflon tape and screwed them right in. Capped up the ends of the 3/4" PVC and attached and glued the other end to the T fitting.

Fully assembled, I used the 90 degree T fitting so that I could install it in the corner of the run,

Installed and working beautifully, so far the pullets have figured it out quite quickly so it seems like its going to do the job. Hope you enjoyed the write up I have a lot of fun thinking of ways to make our very busy lives easier and doing it cheaper. Cheers.

What to Consider When Choosing a Chicken Waterer?

There are a few things to consider when setting up your own automatic chicken waterer.
Firstly, how much room do you have to set it up? If you have a large area for your flock, perhaps a long piece of PVC piping with several nipples would be best. On the other hand, if space is tight, what about a 5 gallon bucket with several nipples?
Secondly, the weather. If you live in the snow-belt, weather is going to be problematic with any outside system that you have. Water can freeze in the pipes causing all sorts of problems. It can be done but it requires a lot more thought and labor.
Last but by no means least – it needs to be simple to use for you and the birds. It’s no good having a fancy system if you dread using it.

Automatic or Semi-Automatic?

An automatic waterer is something that you really don’t have to fuss with on a daily basis – something like a low pressure continuous system or a large volume holding tank which you need to check on perhaps weekly.
Whereas a semi-automatic one, is something like the regular gravity one. It requires you to tend to it daily, but the chicken can get their own water.

How Many Waterers Will I Need?

This will depend on the sort of setup you use.
Will you be using a bucket setup or PVC piping with nipples?
As a handy rule if you’re using a bucket, you should have a 5 gallon bucket for every 6 hens or so. If you have a flock of 12 hens you would need two 5 gallon buckets. This also helps to prevent bullying.
If you have a much larger flock you may want to consider the PVC solution.
The PVC piping would be suitable for a larger confined area such as a run, but the bucket system can be used if space is a bit more restricted.
Automatic Chicken Waterer Review Table

Plastic vs Metal

Generally there are two types of materials used: plastic or metal.
Metal is very durable but you can’t add Apple Cider Vinegar to the water, it will corrode the metal.
Plastic is generally the material of choice. It is lightweight, durable and easy to replace. It does bleach out in the sun overtime but that really isn’t a big problem.
If you live in a cold climate, then you should consider metal as plastic can shatter when frozen.

Where Should I Place Them?

This will depend upon your setup, but one thing is for certain you should never put the waterer inside the coop.
Partly because chickens are messy, they bump into it, spilling water everywhere. This constant dampness can lead to mold issues which can impact on a chickens’ health.
Also the moisture given off as vapor can cause frostbite issues in winter months.
If you have the luxury of a large barn or out building where they can wander in and out, a water system inside would be ideal. It will be kept cooler out of the sun and being inside will discourage wild birds from using it too.
If you have a coop with attached run, a waterer placed in the run will suffice. Try to place it centrally where all can access it and preferably away from food just in case there is spillage.
If your birds free range most of the time, a couple of waterers placed around the yard out of the sun (under cover if possible) will do very nicely. These would likely be free standing units not attached to your automatic system.

Watch the video: Automatic Chicken Waterer - CHEAP DIY (July 2021).