DIY Automatic Chicken Watering System for Under $10

Updated on October 22, 2017
SinDelle profile image

SinDelle runs The Georgia Herb & Egg Co. on her homestead in Dublin, GA.

Georgia Red Velvet & Cinnamon Queen pullets checking out their new water system.
Georgia Red Velvet & Cinnamon Queen pullets checking out their new water system.

When you have a large amount of chickens such as we do (40+), hauling water every day can be a huge chore. In this Georgia heat, even only a few hours without water can be disastrous for livestock. What if you get stuck in town overnight? What will the chickens do for water? What if you don't have a well (we don't), or you just don't feel like hauling it every day (we don't)? We will show you how to build your own five-gallon automatic water dispenser for $10 or less!

You will need:

  • 4-6 nipple waterers, $5 at Tractor Supply Co.
  • 5 gallon bucket with a lid, $5 at TSC or Home Depot
  • drill
  • 3/8
  • pliers


NOTE: Whether you have horizontal or vertical nipples will affect where on the bucket they are placed. Vertical nipples placed horizontally will leak nonstop. These should be placed on the bottom of the bucket, as pictured above.

  1. Drill your hole (horizontal should be placed 4" up from bucket bottom, vertical should be placed underneath, about an inch in from bucket edge).
  2. Clean up any rough edges around the hole so that it's smooth.
  3. Place nipple in the hole and screw it in, using pliers when it becomes too difficult to turn by hand.
  4. There is a clear rubber gasket on the nipple. Tighten nipple until the gasket creates a seal around the base of the nipple. You will be able to see it.
  5. Fill bucket with water and test for leaks. There should not be any. If it leaks, clean up the edges of the hole again and re-fit the nipple, tightening until you can see the gasket around the entire base of the nipple.
  6. Place the watering system at a height where the chickens can comfortably reach the nipple.
  7. Test the nipple to make sure water flows freely.

That's it!

The lid is important in order to keep algae from growing in the water and to keep it bug-free. Also, your chickens could fall in! You can use a small hook to secure the bucket to the side of the coop if you like. We placed a small tray under it, just in case it leaks. It has not leaked, but we are very water-conscious. The chickens love these things!


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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      now that is a clever idea! Can I use it for my cat?