We have built a LOT of chicken waterers in our years of chicken wrangling. They break, clog, or otherwise just become a pain to deal with. No matter the size, filling it is always irritating.
With that experience in mind, we set out to build an easy, affordable and quick to put together rain water chicken waterer.
- 55 Gallon plastic barrel ($7) – don’t use clear/translucent as such could promote algae growth in the water.
- Automatic Chicken Drinker Cups (8 for $30)
- Fiskars Rain Barrel DiverterPro Kit ($31)
- Total cost: $68
Note: that might not sound inexpensive to some – but bear in mind it has all be eliminated all water hauling for the chickens for about 9 months of the year and has eliminated the need to use well water for the same duration.
Once the materials arrived, we simply laid out eight holes about 2″ up from the bottom of the barrel and drilled them (the drill bit size recommended comes with the packaging for the drinker cups).
Next, we screwed the cups in the filled the water up several inches above the cups to and let it sit a while to ensure there were no leaks.
We then drilled a hole for the fill hose adapter that came with the rain barrel diverter and screwed in the adapter.
We then took the waterer down to the coop where we installed the rain barrel diverter into the gutters of the coop. Per the directions, we installed this just a little bit above level with the rain barrel input hose. If it is too high, the overflow won’t easily flow back into the diverter. Too low and you won’t get any rain in your barrel. Installation was easy. Just make a cut in your gutter, slide the diverter on (requires some finagling) then trim down the excess gutter, insert
Installation was easy. Just make a cut in your gutter, slide the diverter on (requires some finagling) then trim down the excess gutter, insert it into the bottom of the diverter and re-attach all to the wall. Note: we found that this all worked best with some silicone caulk around the inside. Fiskars should really have designed this to slide INTO the gutter, not over it. Physics – duh!
Once all that was done, we simply trimmed down the hose to our desired length put the diverter into the ‘divert’ mode and waited for rain. What does that mean you ask? The inside flips over to direct all water down the spouting (ie. in the winter) or flipped the other way directs water first into the barrel. When the barrel is full, the back pressure of the water causes it to flow back into the diverter where it exits via the gutter.
The first mild rain filled the bucket half way. We’ve not watered our chickens by hand since the installation! We used our fingers to allow enough water to flow into each cup. From there the chickens figured it out quite quickly.
- The Fiskars diverter works okay, but required caulking and some tweaking of the positioning to get the water flowing properly.
- Take time to observe the water flowing into (hopefully) the barrel during a rain.
- This won’t work when it begins to freeze, but sure saves labor and time until then!
6 thoughts on “Building a Rainwater chicken waterer”
This is rad… and one of the times we wish ducks weren’t such slobs in the water and could use something like this 🙂
Haven’t found a good way to handle duck slobishness with their water yet. Gimme time 🙂
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Love the idea just need something smaller.
You could make the same with a smaller barrel or a five or seven gallon bucket 🙂
Great idea. Make sure that your hen house roof is made of metal or polycarbonate corrugated panels.
Our current (older) home has asphalt shingles and after a heavy storm we find a lot of granules in
the gutters. If you currently have asphalt shingles you can add a fine mesh screen
to keep the granules out of the water barrel. I don’t have chickens yet,so for now I really enjoy reading
your articles as I sip my morning coffee.
Keep up the good work!
Your sister in Christ- Teresa in Idaho
Hi Teresa, thanks for making that point! The roof IS indeed metal and is one reason that all our outbuildings employ metal roofs. Aside from the granules that come off of composition shingle roofs, there are chemicals in them that some have reported to be carcinogenic and unhealthy.
FWIW, granules in the gutter runoff – if significant – usually indicate it’s getting to be time for a new roof.