Need advice: Rainwater Collection okay for watering chickens???

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by sbates, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. sbates

    sbates Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 27, 2009
    Okay here is some background information: I used to water my chickens with multiple 5 (or so gallon) typical plastic waterers... However I quickly got tired of these for a number of reasons. 1) I had to fill them up every couple of days. 2) They are difficult to clean.... no matter what I do... algae grows on the inside of some... dirt accumulates inside... and I just got tired of scrubbing them out all the time. So...

    I hooked up a 35 gallon (recycled) food grade barrel to a small length of hose and ran this to an anti-siphoning, automatic waterer valve in a bucket. This is great because I could fill it with the hose... like once a week. Plus all you have to do is dump out and clean the bucket... the actual barrel doesn't get any contamination in it....

    Then I thought to myself.. why even bother with the hose.. I just hooked a flexible pipe from the gutter of the hen house to the top of my barrel reservoir. Every rainstorm the barrels fill right up. Here is a couple pics of how I made this and my basic set-up

    Okay here comes the question part:

    1) Does anyone see a problem with using rainwater to water the chickens. Again, the barrels are all screened so there are no mosquitoes...etc.
    2) I have a BS in Cell Biology..... so I have some background... but not an expert in... microbiology... Anyway, I would say you would be hard pressed to "prove" that there would be more bacteria in a rainwater system versus a well system... provided they were designed properly. Even city water treated with Chlorine... would quickly become bacteria laden, while sitting in a plastic waterer with 25 chickens plucking away at it. Does anyone disagree with me on this? Interested to here any FACTUAL input.
    3) Does anyone else use a rainwater system such as mine? Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
  2. I have a rain barrell at the end of my mobile home just to catch rain water, I also add minners or goldfish to keep out the mosquitoes, I also use it to water my garden, wash the car any thing else I need water for except household use. marrie
  3. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    I'm glad you asked this question because I have been wondering the same thing. Doing a quick search using the search parameter "rainwater contaminates" I found this wiki article

    part it says:

    Contamination and maintenance

    If rainwater is used for drinking, it is often filtered first. Filtration (such as reverse osmosis or ultrafiltration) may remove pathogens. While rain water is pure it may become contaminated during collection or by collection of particulate matter in the air as it falls.[3] While rain water does not contain chlorine, contamination from airborne pollutants, which settles onto rooftops, may be a risk in urban or industrial areas. Many water suppliers and health authorities, such as the New South Wales Department of Health, do not advise using rainwater for drinking when there is an alternative mains water supply available. However, reports of illness associated with rainwater tanks are relatively infrequent, and public health studies in South Australia (the Australian state with the highest rainwater usage rate) have not identified a correlation. Rainwater is generally considered fit to drink if it smells, tastes and looks fine[4]; However some pathogens, chemical contamination and sub-micrometre suspended metal may produce neither smell, taste and not be visible to the eye.[citation needed]

    Certain paints and roofing materials may cause contamination. In particular, a Melbourne Water publication advises that lead-based paints never be used. Tar-based coatings are also not recommended, as they affect the taste of the water. Zinc can also be a source of contamination in some paints, as well as galvanized iron[5] or zincalume roofs, particularly when new, should not collect water for potable use. Roofs painted with acrylic paints may have detergents and other chemicals dissolve in the runoff. Runoff from fibrous cement roofs should be discarded for an entire winter, due to leaching of lime. Chemically treated timbers and lead flashing should not be used in roof catchments. Likewise, rainwater should not be collected from parts of the roof incorporating flues from wood burners. Overflows or discharge pipes from roof-mounted appliances such as air-conditioners or hot-water systems should not have their discharge feed into a rainwater tank.

    Maintenance includes checking roofs and rain gutters for vegetation and debris, maintaining screens around the tank, and occasionally desludging (removing sediment by draining and cleaning the tank of algae and other contaminants).

    Rainwater tanks which are not properly sealed (secured at the top) may act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.[6]
  4. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    However, my ducks love the rain runoff from my roof. I've had to divert it to a different area because they prefer to drink and play in it more than the fresh water I give them or their pond.
  5. bibliophile birds

    bibliophile birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    if you have a metal roof that you can spray off maybe twice a year, i think a rainwater system is great. we use it for our cows and horses and are putting one in for the chickens.

    some people with shingle roofs still use rainwater collection, but you need to be aware that shingles can leech toxins into the water.
  6. cynstaub

    cynstaub Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 25, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    I wanted to freshen up this thread and see if we can get more info. from people actually using rain water collection to water their chickens. ; )
  7. WVDoug

    WVDoug Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2014
    Northern WV
    I just started using rain water for my chickens this past summer. I ran a downspout from the barn roof across the back of the barn and have it exit over a 55 gal plastic drum. I leave one bung open and screened, and depending on how much water is pouring out the downspout, it runs into the barrel. The barrel is connected via hose through the barn wall and to a 2" pvc line with nipples.
    Saves a lot of hauling out the hose and refilling the barrel.
    I have to keep it easy to disassemble and store due to freezing weather Dec-Mar, but so far so good.

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