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A lot of the problems that come with backyard chickens are caused by the way water is provided to chickens and the equipment used.
Dirty contaminated water
Chickens love to scratch around and make a mess, which means that dirt and feed often contaminate the water. Green algae also grows in the waterer when its exposed to light.
Knocked over waterers
It doesn't take much for your chickens to knock over their water, which can be dangerous for your chickens if you're away or you don't notice for a while.
Rats and mice
Rats and mice need easy and consistent access to water. The reality is that most waterers end up being dual purpose chicken and rat waterers. The rats are attracted to an open source of water and will drink from (and poop in) it at night. Yuk!
All these problems mean lots of time and effort spent cleaning out and re-filling waterers. What a pain!
This chicken waterer is designed to solve these problems at the source and make it easier for more people to enjoy backyard chickens without all the hassle.
Clean water with no effort
The enclosed design means you will have clean water without any effort. It keeps the mess out, prevents algae from growing and keeps rats and mice away.
Secure and reliable
Provides a secure supply of clean water which can't be knocked over by your chickens. This is great for peace of mind, especially when you go away for the weekend.
Horizontal nipple - drip and freeze free
Uses horizontal nipples which I have found to be the best waterer nipple on the market. Horizontal nipples are placed on the side of a waterer (horizontally), rather than the bottom of the waterer (vertically). The main problems with vertical nipples is that they drip and also freeze up in the cold weather. Horizontal nipples don't drip or freeze because they have an o-ring which seals the water out of the nipple, compared to other nipples which retain water inside the nipple.
Built in shell grit feeder
This waterer includes a built in shell grit feeder at the base. Shell grit provides calcium which is critical for high egg production and thick shells. Providing extra shell grit will ensure your chickens are getting enough for a steady supply of healthy eggs.
With no mess, no rats and no drips, this waterer is super low maintenance and almost looks after itself.
Who is this guide for?
This waterer is designed specifically for busy people with backyard chickens who are looking for an easy solution that works:
- Quick and super simple to make without any experience, using basic tools that most people have at home
- Uses materials that are cheap and easy to find
- Low maintenance, taking the hassle out of keeping chickens
Follow the step by step instructions and you'll have the ultimate hassle free chicken waterer in no time at all.
How to use this guide
This guide is set out in 6 steps as outlined below. There are some steps which are optional:
- Step 1.2 & 1.3 - DIY Plug / Cap: This step is only required if you can't get a hold of a PVC Plug / Cap
- Step 3 - Painting your feeder: This step is optional
Questions or Feedback?
Cutting, drilling and sanding PVC
- Use a respirator mask while cutting and drilling PVC, so you don't breath in the dust.
- When using PVC Cement, make sure you have plenty of ventilation and use an organic vapour respirator. The vapours from PVC cement are toxic and will make you dizzy if inhaled.
- Wear gloves so you don't get any on your skin.
- Ensure you are in a well-ventilated area
- Use a respirator so you don't breathe in any vapours
- Keep spray paint on your project, not on you
- Wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.
1. Cut & Glue
Cut PVC to size and glue
Sand & clean PVC to prepare for a smooth finish
Spray paint 2-3 coats (optional)
Insert the nipple and assemble
Install and fix the waterer in place
6. Use & Maintain
Introduce the waterer, ongoing use and maintenance
Item A 1 x 1m (3' 3") 90mm (3") PVC Pipe
Item B 1 x 90mm (3") PVC Junction
Item C.1 (Option 1) 2 x 90mm (3") PVC Cap / Plug
Item C.2 (Option 2) 3 x 90mm (3") Cap (if you cant get a Cap / Plug
Item D 1 x 90mm (3") PVC Cap
Item E Spray paint (Step 3 - optional)
Item F PVC Cement
Item G Horizontal Nipple
Item H 1 x 50cm (20") Shock cord (or any other cord available)
E3: Tape measure
E5: Respirator mask (dust, paint & glue)
E7: Drill bit 11/32
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1.1 Cut pipe to size
Cut your 90mm (3") PVC pipe (Item A). It can be difficult to get a straight clean cut when using a hand saw - there is a trick to this which I will explain below.
Pipe length: 660mm (26")
Draw a cutting line on the pipe
Use your tape measure to measure the required length and mark with the pencil. Repeat this step on each side of the pipe, so that you have 4 pencil marks in a straight line around the outside of the pipe.
Once you have 4 marks, wrap the tape measure around the pipe and join the
dots with your pencil until you have a straight line around the pipe. Once you have a line drawn, you are ready to start cutting the pipe.
Make a shallow cut along the pencil line all the way around the pipe, rotating the pipe as you go. Don't cut through the pipe the first time around.
Cut through the pipe
Once you have a shallow cut all the way around the pipe, you can start cutting all the way through. Rotate the pipe as you cut through it.
1.2 DIY Cap / Plug (Item C)
1.2.1 DIY Item C (Top)
Glue the caps together
Put PVC Cement (Item F) onto the flat side of the 2 Caps (Item C.2). Make sure you use enough cement for a strong bond.
Push the glued sides together and do a 1/4 twist to help spread the cement.
Place something heavy on top of it (like a brick) and leave it for an hour or so to dry.
Measure the depth of the cap and the depth of the top junction join (Item B). Combine the two lengths to work out the length of the PVC pipe you need.
Cut the PVC Pipe (Item A) to the measured length.
You can then fit the glued caps onto the join as shown in the diagram.
1.2.2 DIY Item C (Bottom)
Measure the depth of the cap and the depth of the bottom junction join (Item B). Combine the two lengths to work out the length of the PVC pipe you need.
Cut the PVC Pipe (Item A) to the measured length.
You can then fit the push on cap onto the join as shown in the diagram.
1.3 Drill the nipple hole
Mark the hole position
To mark the hole position, fit the Plug / Cap (Item C) to the bottom of the cut Pipe (Item A). Measure 25mm (1 Inch) above the Plug / Cap edge and mark the spot with your pencil.
Drill the hole
Once you have marked the hole position, drill the hole using the Drill (E6) and 11/32" Drill bit (E7).
1.4 Glue base
To make the pipe water tight, the Cap / Plug (Item C) needs to be glued to the base using the PVC Cement (Item F).
Mark the pipe and fitting join
Join the Cap / Plug and Pipe together and draw a line around the join with the pencil.
Apply the cement
Wipe an even layer of cement on the inside of the Cap / Plug (Item C) and the outside of the Pipe (Item A) using the line as a guide.
Push and twist together
Let the cement dry for about 10 seconds. Then push the Cap / Plug and Pipe together. As you push it together, do a quarter turn twist at the same time to help the cement spread evenly. Hold the 2 parts together for about 30 seconds to give time for the cement to grab. Allow at least 30 minutes for the cement to dry before sanding and cleaning in Step 2.
2.1 Sand PVC cuts
Sand each of the cut edges of the PVC pipe, to make them smooth and remove any of the plastic threads.
2.2 Sand PVC surface
Give each PVC part a light sand along the surface. This will clean the PVC and remove surface waxes to help the paint adhere (in step 3). You can also sand off the manufacturing barcodes and markings if you are looking for a clean finish.
Wash off any dust and dirt from the pipe and dry with a clean cloth. This will also help ensure spray paint will adhere properly to the PVC.
Painting the feeder is an optional step which gives some extra protection against weathering and gives your feeder a personalised look.
Get the area ready for painting by laying down cardboard or newspaper. To make sure you get it right, test your technique on scrap paper before starting:
- Shake your spray paint can for 1 minute before you use it and regularily while spraying
- Begin and finish spraying off the object
- Use an even side-to-side motion
- Spray about 20cm (8") from the surface
Paint each PVC piece seperately, before the feeder is assembled. Try not to paint the inside of the pipe.
To stop drips and runs, spray 3 thin
coats. Wait for each coat to dry
before putting on the next coat. The wait time depends on the spray paint, so follow the instructions on the can. Wait for the paint to fully dry before you start putting the feeder together in step 4.
4.1 Install the nipple
To install the nipple, push the threaded end into the hole. To get a good seal you will need to push and twist at the same time. The nipple thread should almost go all the way in. If you are having trouble, try drilling out the hole again (but not to much or it will leak).
To make sure the nipple is water tight, pour in some water and test it. Check for leaks and push the nipple to check it is working.
Put the rest of the waterer together following the diagram. Make sure joins are fully pushed in so that they are sturdy. Don't glue the other pieces together. This saves time and will make it easy to pull apart for cleaning.
5.1 Where to put your waterer
If you put the waterer in the right spot you will have a lot less hassles. Here are a few things to consider:
The waterer will need to be topped up and checked regularly. Think about how easy it will be to top up and get access to it. Ideally you should be able to top up the waterer without moving it.
Shut in the coop
When you shut your chickens into the coop, you want to make sure your chickens still have access to water.
5.2 Fixing the waterer in place
Fix the waterer in place using the shock cord. Simply tie the shock cord around the feeder and the supporting surface.
6.1 Filling up the waterer
Filling the waterer
The waterer is easy to fill. A watering can with the pourer removed or a hose works well.
Filling the mini feeder
To fill the mini feeder on the bottom, remove the top waterer section and top up with shell grit.
6.2 Introducing the waterer
Chickens are very cautious about anything new, so you will need to gradually introduce them to the waterer and get them use to it. Here are some tips to get your chickens using the nipple:
Attract the chickens close to the waterer with food
The first step is to attract your chickens to the waterer. Throw some of their favourite food (my chickens go crazy for rolled oats) around the waterer, to help them get familiar with it.
To get your chickens to start using the nipple, jam a piece of food into the nipple. The chickens will then eat the food and will also learn that there is water there. Do this a few times and they should start to get the hang of it.
Let it drip
Initially you can also use a rubber band to keep the nipple pushed in, which means it will continuously drip. This will teach the chickens that it is a source of water.
6.3 Routine maintenance
The waterer is easy to maintain and there is very little you need to worry about. A couple of key things:
Check the water level and nipple
It is important to make sure your chickens don't run out of water. When you first set up the waterer, you should check it every day to make sure there are no leaks and to check that the nipple is working properly.
For the first fill, take note of how long it takes the water to run out. Based on this you will be able to work out a routine for topping up the water. Its also important to remember that your chickens will drink more water in warmer weather, which means it will need to be topped up more regularly.
Check the shell grit
At the same time that you fill up the waterer, do a quick check of the shell grit.