Quick, simple and inexpensive automatic watering system.


6 Years
Sep 2, 2013
Lake Elsinore, CA.
A week after I put my new coop into service I started to make a list of changes in design or additions to make life easier. Since my wife and grown children are too busy to help with the chickens and the vegetable garden every morning I needed a way to make things easier on me. I'm a 6', 280 lb old guy and after a week of trying to crawl into the 3 foot tall access into the new coop for adding food and water the ideas started to flow like all the feathers across our backyard.

First I scanned BYC for feeder ideas. I went with this design because we can add whatever feed (crumble or pellets) we wanted as well as control the amount of feed given. Each PVC tube holds exactly 7 cups of feed and waste at first was apprx, 15%, after I cut and installed the lids that came with the little storage bowls waste was cut to -1%. And since my wife is deathly afraid of birds (including Humming birds) this system allows her to help with the feeding. The smaller tube can be used for Boss or oyster shells.

The chickens love the feeders, the waste is little to none and poopless and no more stooping or crawling into the coops.

The parts list from the Depot for the feeders;
x3 2"end caps 3x$1.79
x3 45's 3x$1.77
x1 2" pipe 1x$6.95
x3 1" 45's 3x$0.96
x3 1" end caps 3x$0.77
x1 pipe 1x$3.38
x6 assrtd size storage bowls (.99 Store) 6x.99
Total = $34.08 - wife's budget $50 = I'm ahead $16 bucks.
All other supplies I had in the garage, as seen below.

My next need was a solution to the watering chore. After a bit of interweb surfing I learned about chicken nipples. I ordered 25 nipples through Amazon from CCONLY for a total cost of $12.48. http://www.amazon.com/Nipple-Drinke...id=1378756860&sr=8-3&keywords=chicken+nipples Below, Big Red is trying to figure out the new system. I used 1/2 PVC pipe and fittings because I had most of the parts already, I didn't want to use a bigger size because of the limited space in the coops. The pipes also added extra roost space for the girls and boys.

I had several Lowe's buckets donated by a friend so there was no expense for that. I then drilled a 11/16th hole into the bottom of the bucket and screwed in a 1/2 male/slip adapter and sealed with silicone. The stand I recycled from an old bar stool and conveniently already had a 1 1/2 hole drilled in it. I ran 12 inches of 1/2 pipe straight down from the bucket.

Next I drilled a 5/16 hole into the side of the bucket about 4 inches from the top, (no need to fill it to the top here). Then I threaded in a float valve from the Depot ($4.58) sealed and set the float level to just above the valve so the rubber seals won't dry out. At the bottom is the drain tube which is plugged for testing of the valve. I installed a 1/4 inch compr fitting/ hose connector to a Y splitter and ran 1/4" icemaker tubing from the spigot to the bucket's float valve.

Valve testing went w/o problems, all sealed and tight.
Since we live in sunny So. Cal. I not worried about insulating the pipes and tubing for a couple of months. (Insulation is already in the garage...) The bucket and bar stool were lined up with the back side of the coop so it's out of the way of the nest box access. I installed a 90 elbow to 67" of pipe to reach the end of the house section of the coop and another elbow where the pipe enters the coop and added another 90 with a male thread/slip connector at the end.

Back into the garage where I Drilled 5/16 holes into the PVC pipes at the marks where I wanted the nipples to be. This was a full 10 foot pipe. After the holes were drilled I used a bolt with fine threads that matched the threads on the nipples and pre-threaded the nipple holes in the PVC. Before screwing in the nipples I filed down the pipe at each hole so the nipples would seat on a flat area for maximum seal. Then added silicone for extra precaution. Then installed all the nipples. FYI, this would have been a good time to hand tighten the ball valve section of the nipples. (instead of crawling into the coop later to do it)

Dragging all the piping and tools needed back out to the chicken run to install the system. I ran the piping through the far end of the large coop and screwed it into the section from the bucket end. The extra length of pipe was used to connect the watering system to the smaller coop.

A 3 foot section of pipe that holds 3 nipples goes through the small coop and connects to the end of the pipe. This is a hose connection here so we can disconnect and plug off the water system to the large coop and still leave the smaller coop mobile because when the garden is done for the season the small cool becomes the chicken tractor and I have another bucket and bar stool made up to connect to the smaller coop when they are separated. Something I might do differently next time would be test the nipples themselves before installing so I didn't have to crawl inside (with the girls) to fix leaky fittings. (Read above) While inside I showed them how to use the nipples and I don't know why I had my phone with me but the girls found it in my pocket and pecked at it like they were sending texts.

The cost of the watering system and a parts list;
25 nipples at $12.48
x2 1/2 PVC pipe $3.52
x1 valve $4.58
x1 1/4 tube/hose adapter
x2 1/2" thrd/slip conn. $3.52
Total system cost= $32.28, wifes budget was $75 bucks. The project was easy and anyone who has ever built a sprinkler system has the tools and know how for this 6 hour project. I saved $42.72 for a total project cost of $66.36 and I saved $58.72 from wifes budget which makes wifey happy because I took her out to dinner and drinks.

Then we went Fishing...

But the bottom line is always..... Happy Chickens!

And I can cross this off my "bucket List"...
Good job,
Love the idea, but I am in Colorado Springs. I'm pretty sure the cold weather to come would finish off the pvc watering system :-{
Shido, I hope these pics help you. I had to go back and cut the lids and put them back on the little dishes because I had started a switch over from crumbles to pellets and the kids threw the pellets out to get to the seeds and grains first. The lids cut the waste quite a bit.
I don't have a design to share but more of a list of needs so that maybe someone out there that is creative can come up with a design that will fit my needs, and I'm sure other could use.

I would like to see some ideas for outside feeders that won't get the feed wet for both the outside pens and wire cages that are off the ground. I have some of the hanging type Little Giant brand from the feed store that I have setting on the wire floor of pens and the same type but larger inside the coops that hang from the ceiling. There is a metal roof over the cages. If I put them to the middle of the cage they generally stay dry but they're out of reach for easy filling. If they're close to the door, then if it rains and blows rain in, the feed gets wet. The rabbit feeders that hang on the outside with a solid bottom (not wire) work to some extent but don't hold enough feed and they still get wet if it rains hard and blows in. The door of the cage isn't huge but I can put the feeder though it that holds 12 pounds of feed if I put it in sideways so I have to fill it with it already inside the cage.

I also have an outside pen that has a small roosting area that is covered but only enough room for roosting at night for the boys that free range. I have a long open pan that works fine, unless it's raining. I'd like an outside feeder design that would be weather proof and hold 12 pounds or more feed.

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