Well, I finally got some time to get out there and tend to the water situation. I wanted to address two issues:
Keep water from freezing and make it easier to fill the water less often.
I was using one of these 5 gallon hanging waterers. But to fill it I had to un-hook it and pull it out, take off lid, remove seal, fill, replace, etc.. Doesn't sound bad but in the summer, it was a hassle. Plus they kicked up poop and other debris into the water from the run.
Six inch pvc pipe is expensive but for the volume of water it holds, it's worth it. I did the math for 4" pipe and the volume formula told me I would have to have ten feet of 4"pvc as a "tank" to hold only 6.5 gallons of water. When only a five foot section of 6" pvc pipe could hold 7.3 gallons of water. I'm no mathematician but the formula is pretty simple. Recall some junior high math with me:
pi (3.14) times radius squared times length of pipe in inches = volume in cubic inches
divide this number by 231 cubic inches in a gallon to get gallons
so 4" pipe 10' feet long (or 120 inches) is like this:
3.14 x 4 x 120 = 1507 / 231 = 6.5 gallons
and 6" pipe 5 feet long (or 60 inches) is like this:
3.14 x 9 x 60 = 1696 / 231 = 7.3 gallons
Here are the materials and some tools needed:
This is a before pic.
Cut a hole for pipe using jigsaw:
Piece together the pipe and paint it your color:
Its no secret that the poultry nipples are a great alternative. So I had to order some and give them a try. I found mine on ebay and paid $12 for 10 nipples, including shipping. I ended up only using 6 of them. Here you can see the holes drilled in the pvc, ready for the nipples to be screwed in:
A few details on the nipple installation... the instructions that came with mine called for a 5/16" bit for hard plastic, including pvc. They called for 11/32" drill bit for soft plastic like soda bottles or a 5 gallon bucket. So I drilled my first holes using the 5/16" bit. They didn't fit. I ended up using the 11/32" bit and they fit. Use teflon tape around the threads and do not over tighten. The nipples are plastic and very cheaply made. I broke two nipples in the process just by slightly over-tightening and had to drill them out. Take my advice and go slow and easy.
Here is the finished product. I am very happy with it. The nipples don't leak and the chickens found them immediately and are already using them:
And I just drag the garden hose over to the coop to fill it. It holds over 8 gallons with that big 90 degree elbow attached!
To keep the water from freezing I bought a 30' heater cable made for plastic and metal pipes. I am going to wrap it around the pvc pipe if I have to. But first I'm going to give it some time and see if it freezes. It CAN get pretty cold here but it has to be really really cold for a few days to freeze an 8 gallon tank. If I do have freezing problems I suspect it will be right at the nipple. But I'll keep and eye on it and watch it for a while before I use the heater.
Thanks for looking!
Edited by cptbahama - 12/6/11 at 6:21am