My Automatic Waterer

By mikki717 · Jan 11, 2012 · ·
  1. mikki717
    My Automatic Waterer
    Any chicken keeper knows how important fresh clean water is to your flock. This automatic water device keeps the water CLEAN first and foremost, and it never runs out!
    Items needed:

      • 5 gallon Bucket with lid $ 5.00
      • 4 Water Nipples $ 2.00 each
      • Hose fitting $ 3.00
      • 1 Swamp Cooler float $ 2.50 (A toilet bowl float can also be used, but this was what we had available.)

    Tools needed:

      • drill and drill bits
      • crescent wrench
      • hunky DH is helpful, but not necessary
    Gather your supplies and tools:
    Drill a hole near the top of the bucket for the float. Drill 4 holes in the floor of the bucket for the nipples.
    Using a drill bit that is just a bit too small is better than a bit too big... you can always ream the hole a bit if it is too tight, but you can't make it smaller.
    Place the brass fitting through the hole and fasten tightly per package directions. Attach the hose coupling to the brass fitting peeking through the bucket side.

    Because the brass float arm was too long to fit freely in the bucket, we had to "loop" the arm so it would fit. By bending the float arm you can make sure that the float height, when filled, is below the hole drilled for the fitting. This way, you will not need to seal the hole to the fitting as the water level will not reach the hole.

    Turn over the bucket and screw the water nipples into the holes in the bucket floor. We had to tighten them with a crescent wrench, but only until it was water tight/snug. Do not put the bucket down on the nipples, it can break them or break their seal. If the drilled hole is slightly too large, you can wrap some pipe tape around the threads to make a seal when the nipple is screwed in.


    Place the lid onto the waterer.

    Hang the waterer in the proper location, and attach a hose. Turn on the water, and leave it on. We are lucky enough to have a spigot within 10 feet of the waterer location, but if you have a hose that will reach, the distance from the spigot is inconsequential. Leave the water on at the source, and you will never run out of fresh clean water. An important note is to have some sort of support for the hose so that it doesn't break the brass fitting. In this case, I have the hose supported over a low hanging branch.


    The bucket had not even finished filling when the girls sidled up to the bar!! "BarKeep! Pour me a cold one!"

    We needed to supply water to two pens. Instead of building two waterers, we placed the nipples in a rectangular shape to allow each side of the fence access to two nipples, by snipping a bit of the wire fence and bending the wires. When DH described this to me, I thought it was way too complicated, but in reality, this waterer took only 15 minutes to complete, including the attachment of the hose and hanging it! (He does have irrigation and plumbing experience though!)

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Recent User Reviews

  1. ronott1
    "Good Article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Oct 23, 2018
    Nice water system!
  2. The Farmers' Daughter
    "Great idea."
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 17, 2018
    Showing exactly what tools are required ahead of time is very helpful.
    I would think that this would work just as well with horizontal nipples.
    Did your water bill increase or decrease with this waterer?
  3. Anonymous
    "Descriptive article."
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 22, 2018
    Love the list of items & tools needed. Good description of how to.


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  1. ihearvoices
    So, i tried making one of these tonight and found that my screw in style are leaking a bit. I'm a plumbing dummy... so my question is if i allowed the plumber's tape to overlap from the fitting over the rubber washer, would that break the seal the washer was supposed to create? (because i totally did that) Also, i only finger tightened. Should i wrench the little buggers in tightly? I put them into the bottom of a home depot bucket. Don't know that you'll know the answers, but perhaps you'll have more educated guesses then i do! Thank you for sharing what you know with the backyarders. Cheers!
  2. Nana Ton-Ton
    How will you keep this from freezing?
  3. familypendragon
  4. tjbeckman
    I was wondering the same thing Golden.
  5. golden farm
    so could you put the nipples on the SIDE of the bucket instead of the bottom?
  6. 6TheChickenKid6
    My hens didnt find the nipples for a while but if you force the chickens beak on the nipple so that water comes out, it learns that the nipple is a source of water.
  7. BButterfly
    I was thinking that same question...thanks for answeringkings9
  8. kings9
    They just figure it out. It took mine an hour to start. They love pecking new things. They will find them.
  9. SMRich1
    how do you get the chickens to use the nipples? Mine are on a standard waterer right now which uses gravity and a bowl at the bottom. One of my hens is not so bright, I am worried she may not understand that is where she needs to get her water.

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