Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Making a chicken waterer out of a hot water heater

Automatic chicken waterer using a hot water heater.

Jack F. emailed me a photo of his unique homemade chicken waterer setup.  He had an old hot water heater --- no longer functional as a heater, but with a large storage capacity.  Jack emailed me to ask if I thought he could install the nipples directly into the base of hot water tank.

Unfortunately, chicken nipples are meant to be installed in relatively thin-walled containers, so that idea didn't float.  But Jack didn't give up.  Instead, he sent a hose out of the hot water tank and then attached that to a length of pvc pipe.  The nipples were easy to install in the pipe, allowing Jack to space them out to give all of his chickens a safe place to drink.

Here's the really cool part --- Jack added another thin hose running vertically out of the main pipe.  He added a few drops of red food coloring to the water in the tank, and now the vertical hose is a quick and easy way to tell how much water is in the tank.  As the red-colored water drops in the vertical hose, he knows it's dropping similarly in the tank.  Great idea!  Thanks for sharing!

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This is a great concept, would love to know more. I have an old water heater and would love a step by step guide on how to convert it into a water feeder for our chickens. Is it run on electricity or gravity feed? Thanking you for your time L Townsend

Comment by Loraine Townsend late Thursday evening, December 2nd, 2010
This is a gravity feed setup, not meant to heat the water, just to provide a large storage area without buying a new container. Our do it yourself chicken waterer kits walk you through all of the steps in making this and similar waterers using our nipples and PVC pipes.
Comment by anna at teatime on Sunday, December 5th, 2010

I wonder if you could plug in the water heater and set it to the lowest possible setting to keep the water warm in the winter? My husband used an outside water spicket and set up a bucket to it (with PVC pipe) and put a toilet bowl float in it to keep the bucket full of water and to shut off the water when the bucket is full. It then is gravity fed to a long PVC pipe like this one with the water heater to the chicken water nipples.
Problem... we live in Austin, TX and about once every few years (this week being one of them) it freezes here and one of the PVC pipes broke today and we leave tomorrow on vacation and don't have time to fix it. So, our kids will have to manually water them this next week. I wonder if you can have a small water heater for the resavoir if it would keep the water warm enough to NOT freeze... will have to ask hubby.

Comment by Pam late Friday afternoon, February 4th, 2011
You might want to check out posts we've made about heated chicken waterers. We're running a contest right now and have got a lot of great suggestions that I'm posting there for other folks to learn from!
Comment by anna late Tuesday morning, February 8th, 2011
I wonder if I could use an operational water heater to keep the water warm enough not to freeze in the winter???
Comment by Billy Touvell late Thursday evening, July 7th, 2016
Billy --- I'm afraid the pipe leading out of the heater is almost certian to freeze if you go much below freezing in a setup like that. You can read about our current favorite heated chicken waterer here.
Comment by anna at lunch time on Monday, July 11th, 2016

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