Last week we began preparing for the 50 meat chickens we were about to get in the mail. We hit the farm supply store to get two new feed troughs and chicken waterers. As I was looking at the metal waterers, I noticed the price tag. $32 each! Yikes! I had two at home for the laying chickens. Had I, in my new-chicken-owner stupor in February, really bought two of these things for $64?!?!
Well, being smarter (hah!) and wiser (um, right), I decided to try to make the chicken waterers myself. I mean, how hard can it be?
It turns out, not hard at all. My next project will be a bio-gas digester that will help my farm save a lot of money on gas and electricity bills. I found some very nice and well explained blueprints that will help me do it. But for now lets talk about this chicken waterer.
First, I grabbed a few old 5 gallon buckets we had laying around. I had gotten them for free from a restaurant in Colorado. Now, for this to work, they must have a lid which, thankfully, mine did. I measured the diameter of the top of the bucket (with the lid on) and found it to be around 10 inches.
Next, I bought a flower pot base bigger than the bucket diameter. You know, the little dishes that sit under the pot to catch the excess water? The only size I could find was about 12 inches. I really wanted 16 inches but after looking at two different stores, I took what I could find. Each base cost me $3.88.
Those are all the supplies you need! Now, here’s how we made it.
1) Put the lid on the bucket and turn the bucket upside down in the base. Mark a spot on the bucket that is under the rim of the base but high enough to fill the base so the chickens have enough to drink.
2) Using a 1/2 drill bit, drill the hole where you marked.
3) Fill the bucket with water and put the lid on.
4) Turn the bucket upside down in the dish. The water will fill the dish until it covers the hole and then it will stop.
5) That’s all – you’re done! Stand back and congratulate yourself on saving $60!
I test-drove it on my laying hens and they love it. It’s funny that, even with their two $64 waterers, they go to this one first every time.
The only thing I would still like to do is get the handle up out of the way. It doesn’t stop the chickens from drinking but my slightly perfectionist persona can’t handle it not being finished properly. I’m thinking a bungee cord would keep it up nicely and still let me easily get to the handle to use it when I fill the waterer.
And just a side note: When I was researching how to do this, I wondered, “Do I REALLY need to have a lid and put the bucket upside down?” For once in my life, I decided to just follow directions because I only have a few buckets and I’d hate to waste even one. (Who knew that buckets were such a useful homestead tool??) The reason is this: You need the air pocket that the bottom of the bucket provides when turned upside down to create a vacuum for the water to automatically refill when it gets below the hole. And that’s the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I figured as long as it works I’m not too worried about why and how.
So there you have it. A $32 waterer for $3.88. Not bad for ten minutes worth of work. With as much money as I’ve been spending on this money pit homestead lately, I’ll gladly take savings wherever I can, especially when it is as simple and straightforward as this was.