Self Watering Chicken Barrel/PVC PIPE


Mar 30, 2022
I am looking at building a self watering chicken system in an area of my yard that has no water source.

My thought is to use a large trashcan elevated, insert a 3/4” bulkhead sitting at the bottom, running 3-4” pvc pipe straight down to a “t” that branches off into two different coops that I have, inserting self watering chicken cups and an end cap the end.

My first question is has anybody else created such a system in AZ? What type of trashcan have you used for the water (i’m thinking a black plastic trashcan) ? Have you had any problems with any algae? It would be gravity fed so I’m just wondering if there’s any issues with water pressure in the PVC lines?
In Texas. We have an automated water system. Best addition ever!

We have a 100 gallon goldfish pond that is filled with a float valve from a 300 gallon rain barrel. The pond pump pumps the filtered water through pvc into an in-line trough in the chicken pen. It has been amazing to not have to refill/change dirty water buckets constantly. We still keep a bucket of fresh water in the pen during the summer and when we are gone all day (other seasons) just in case the pump or electricity goes out.

What you have described doing sounds like when we used an empty kitty litter bucket with chicken cups, but on a larger scale. Our girls did not like drinking out of the chicken cups. Gravity fed should work fine. Texas A&M Agrilife has resources for rain barrels that would explain water pressure, barrel heights, etc. A food grade barrel would probably be better than a trash can since it is meant to hold a lot of liquid without the side bowing out. The food grade barrels can usually be obtained for free or cheap from restaurants or other food service.
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Some of the cups work better than others. I have rent a coop nipples that work well. The cups I purchased before that did not work for my chickens. Double check if they work before placing them on a larger watering system.
Algae is only a factor if the tank or pipes allow light through. Standard Schedule 40 PVC doesn't have that problem and is plenty strong for what you want to do. A black tank would likely be fine to block the sun, but would be horrible to drink hot water out of.

Personally, I'd think more along the lines of a primer and white exterior paint over whatever color tank to keep out sun and heat. Or possibly best of all, use any color tank and build a ventilated enclosure around it to protect it from the sun.

@Yardmom is correct about testing before you install the nipples/cups in your full-scale system. Start with a small bucket, add a couple of your possible nipples/cups and see how they work. When you are happy with your solution, add them to the final build.

I use nipples because they are better at dealing with freezes. However, the chickens definitely have to work harder to get their water. You might want to lean towards cups in AZ to make it easier to get sufficient water.
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You will still have to clean out the cups when they kick debris into them. Try a turkey baster.

If you are still going to have to carry water to fill the reservoir then maybe use a five to ten gallon container.

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