The only thing I find more tedious than poop when it comes to taking care of chickens is providing them water. At least until I made my first bucket waterer! What a small luxury!
Here's the thing about living in the south though. Lots of sunshine and LOTS of heat. I regular ol' bucket can heat up pretty quickly, even if shaded. That led me to start considering using a cooler instead. But how??
With some brains from the husband and help from the guy in our local hardware store, we made it happen
Let's start from the beginning, shall we?
Husband has a thing for brewing beer. He had to stop back in early 2015 so we could put all the extra money we could into savings so we could start our dream on some acreage in the boonies. One thing or another has kept him from getting back into it, so by the time we got into chickens, he had a 10 gallon brew bottling bucket just hanging around. I mentioned wanting to do a PVC waterer with drinking cups and showed him. He graciously offered up his bucket, especially after personally seeing how quickly 4 small chicks could mess up a regular waterer.
The brewing bucket was EASY. It already had a spout you could turn off and on, so we drilled a hole in the table we built for the waterer to sit on by the coop,
attached some clear plastic tubing,
drilled a hole through the back of the coop,
bought a 1/2" hose barb to fit into 1/2" PVC slip/threaded coupling and attached the tubing to that (into the PVC pipe),
and put the drinker cups on 11" sections of PVC. We capped the end, then installed in their coop with zip ties.
Chickens were happy for clean water, and mom is happy for practically hands free clean water that's available throughout the day for the birds.
Now, for the Igloo cooler. We wanted to do it but were waiting, thinking we might repurpose his mash bucket for brewing, temporarily until we got something specific for the birds. We were wandering around Tractor Supply, getting other chicken stuff, when we came across the coolers on clearance for $20. Decided it was worth the price and convenience so we got it. Later that weekend, we pulled the spigot out of the cooler and went up to our local Ace Hardware to try to find parts to fit. After spending about 30 minutes with the guy in the plumbing department, we walked away with a 1/2" brass hose bib, a plastic O ring, a 1/2" plastic locknut to tighten the hose bib to the cooler, a 3/8 to 3/4 hose barb adapter (to fit our existing tubing), and a brass 3/4 coupling. Husband actually fought with getting the hose bib to seal properly in the cooler, so he siliconed the hell out of it and let it set for a couple of days before we put it to use, to make sure it wouldn't leak.
But wait! There's more!
We built an introduction pen out of PVC and set it up next to our hoop coop so we could add more ladies to our existing flock, safely. This meant that they would have to drink out of regular quart sized waterers that needed to be manually filled. Yall, that just does NOT fly.
This time, we went into the big blue box store in town before our other errands. There, we picked up a 3-way hose barb,
cut another pieced of tubing to come down from the main spigot on the bucket,
another slip/thread coupling, another 1/2" hose barb,
and another 1/2" PVC cap. We still had some leftover 1/2" PVC to use to cut more 11" sections (with 2" pieces to attach the drinker cups to the couplings/caps).
It didn't take the birds long to figure it out!
Watering two sets of birds with ONE cooler brings me SO. MUCH. GLEE!
And yep, that's a bit of algae build up in the existing hose. I'm treating with some ACV and if that doesn't work, will have to pull it out and give it a good manual cleaning, somehow.
All in all, it makes my life easier. The chickens always have water. It doesn't take any time at all to just give the bucket a slight push to see how full it is or isn't. AND. Yes, it stays cool in the cooler, even during the last week of nearly 100 degree temps. I'm not sure how much it warms up in the tubing or PVC, but it's never been hot when I visit in the evenings and check to make sure it's still feeding properly.
If you make only one upgrade to your coop, DO THIS!