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Save your Back and Your Money: Make an Automatic Waterer for your Free Ranging Chickens

Updated on May 20, 2011
Silver Pencilled Wyandotte and Cuckoo Marans Hens Drinking from a Home-Made Automatic Waterer
Silver Pencilled Wyandotte and Cuckoo Marans Hens Drinking from a Home-Made Automatic Waterer | Source

Easy and Cheap to Build.

These waterers save both your back and time and that`s why we love them. We make them on a movable stand so you can move them to a more convenient or central location as needed. If you have an electric poultry netting run you move these are perfect. We have three we have made and use and each easily serves 100 birds daily.

They are self-filling, making less work for you and giving the birds fresh water all day long. The birds have 24 hour access to fresh run water with no wait time for you waiting for heavy 5 gallon waterers to fill.

These are much easier to clean than a traditional water. And there are no special water pressure reduction equipment you need to buy. This attaches to a regular garden hose and uses no electricity.

I also like that there is a bigger reservoir of water, unlike the nipple type feeders, If there were ever a problem with the hose you have more time before they run out of water. It is most important for hens that are laying to have constant access to water. It is a necessity.

The Whole Automatic Waterer attached to a Garden Hose
The Whole Automatic Waterer attached to a Garden Hose | Source
Galvanized Automatic Waterer
Galvanized Automatic Waterer | Source

You will need....

  • Old piece of garden hose approx 1-2 foot long
  • Automatic animal water bowl
  • Small scraps of 2x4 or 2x6 wood about 1-2 feet in length
  • Female brass fitting hose onto the hose bib with clamp to attach hose to waterer
  • Hose valve and fittings to attach each end valve into the hose line-hardware store can help you if you take in the hose section
  • Regular length of garden hose from your outdoor tap.

Instructions for building

  1. Build the base from the wood pieces-the base pieces should be minimum 1 foot in length, 2 feet is even better for stability
  2. Attach automatic waterer section to wooden base with screws
  3. Use hose clamps on each end of the short piece of scrap hose to attach fittings
  4. Attach valve (tap) to brass fitting on the other end of the old short hose
  5. Attach brass female end of small hose to galvanized waterer
  6. Connect valve end to regular garden hose coming from your outdoor tap

This can be made without the valve shut off, but we find it more convenient if we want to switch the supply off when we move it a long way or clean it.

Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Black Penedesencas Enjoying a Cool Drink!
Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Black Penedesencas Enjoying a Cool Drink! | Source

When to use these automatic waterers

These work best for free ranged chickens but you can easily set one of these up inside a large run or hen house and save a lot of work. These are best used on level ground and you can see in the first picture we have a piece of wood under the front as our barn entrance is very sloped.

This type of waterer doesn't work for delivering medicine in the water as it is impossible to get a steady concentration. Metal waterers should not be used with acidic liquids like Apple Cider Vinegar. Also we don't use these in Winter yet when temperatures are below freezing. We plan on rigging up an insulated heat trace system in the future. These are certainly usable if there is a thin skin of ice after a heavy frost and the sun thaws throughout the day.

These are certainly worth a few minutes to make. They make looking after the chickens easy in their chicken coup or free ranging out in the yard! And will save you the build time within a couple of weeks.

Questions or comments - we can clarify if something is unclear and add it to the article too!

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    • profile image

      Debbie 7 months ago

      Where are you finding the galvanized waterer?

    • Tayne Peirce profile image

      Tayne Peirce 9 months ago

      If there is no electricity, why is there an electrical extension cord there? How does the water shut off when it's still on at the faucet?

    • profile image

      Kevin 2 years ago

      Their is a float that shuts off the water when full. Tap is left on.

    • profile image

      Matt Millar 4 years ago

      I'm not sure I understand how these work. Do you just leave your outside tap on all day? Or is it more so that you just don't have to lug water - so you turn the hose on, let it fill and then turn it off? They look quite a bit smaller than 5 gallons to me - I'm not sure why this would last longer than a nipple style watering system. More details would be appreciated! Thank you.