Making Automatic Chicken Waterers



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Same old story; happens countless times on a farm. You have a need for something, no desire to run to town and get it … and an irresistible urge to NOT spend money.

At the moment, I’m in the process of building the outbuildings on my new farm and moving toward some semblance of small farm normality. With no permanent chicken housing at the moment, my growing chicks are a constant reminder/motivation to get going with those projects. And now these young fledglings are in those in-between stages of chick-dom and adulthood—quickly outgrowing each successive cardboard box, cage, and coop. As they grow, I’m continually spreading them out with the constant need of more coop room, and therefore accessories to hold feed … and water.

With the latest expansion I suddenly fell short of automatic waterers. I have a certain number of store-bought versions that work quite well, but I need more … and quick.

One can give a chick a drink out of just about anything that holds water; but chicks are messy, often mistaking their water source for indoor plumbing.

Spying around for a quick way to provide clean water to my birds, I found a couple of resources to fit the bill.

Plastic coffee cans and ice cream containers (two luxury items that yield benefits long after the contents are a distant memory).

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First, I cut a small V-shaped notch in the top (which will now be the bottom) of the plastic coffee can.

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Secondly, using a marker and my ring finger as a stabilizing guide, I drew a line around the ice cream container. Then cut it on the line.

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I think the rest is self-explanatory (water, gravity, and the physical principles of a vacuum).

Although I understand a company’s need to make the most economical decisions, from a personal standpoint I regret that many coffee retailers have gone from metal cans to non-metal (they’re so helpful and durable in my workshop for holding nails and such). But in this instance the plastic has worked in my favor.

You can also buy even taller coffee containers at big box stores, and they’re all the better. You just have to drink a lot more coffee. But don’t limit your imagination--many type containers would work well as long as they’re not easily knocked over. And pie plates are great substitutes for the ice cream buckets.



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The narrow space where the water resides is less likely to be a “target area” for the growing chicks (if you know what I mean). To lessen the likelihood of direct hits even more, build a wooden platform (simply 4 pieces of wood nailed together) to raise the waterer to just slightly below beak level.




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By the way, a larger version of this idea can be constructed from a five-gallon bucket with a broken lip (or an intentionally cut one) and any pan or container with a larger diameter than the bucket. These work great for keeping adult flocks watered should the unthinkable happen (i.e., you have to leave your farm paradise for a day or two … or three).








Article by Pa Mac, copyright 2013, Caddo Heritage Productions

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