This DIY chick waterer will work for your chicks or full grown chickens. You just need a couple of items and a 5 gallon bucket!
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I started with ducks years ago and fashioned this DIY duck waterer for them. Ducks are really gross with their water, but they can’t use a nipple waterer like chickens. Dipping their bills is important.
When we added chickens to our flock, I wanted to ensure that they had clean water in their chicken tractor. I LOVED the idea of a nipple waterer so they couldn’t dirty the water.
Homemade Chicken Waterer
This was a satisfying and quick project. I made two chicken waterers out of 5 gallon buckets so I can get two chicken tractors going.
- 5 Gallon Bucket (1 pk @ $5)
- Lid for the bucket (3 pk @ $6)
- Chicken Nipples (10 pk @ $12)
- Drill with a drill bit that matches the recommended size for the nipples you buy.
Total Cost per Waterer: $13
If you prefer a waterer that has little cups, you can buy the cups instead. I figured they’d poop in the cups if I went that route. I am real tired of cleaning poop out of my animal’s water and food.
This is a FIVE minute DIY. So super easy.
Start with your bucket, drill, drill bit, and nipples. If you have a marker, you can mark where you want the holes for the nipples. Remember that you don’t want the holes too high because all of the water under those nipples is just added weight and inaccessible to your flock.
I used 5 chicken nipples per bucket. This seems to be enough for my chickens and I was able to make two buckets with my 10 pk.
Wondering how these babies work? The chick licks the metal peg, it pushes inside and water drips out. Pretty clever and the chickens were SO fast to figure it out.
You want to eyeball your nipples (teehee) and make sure they’re all fully functional. Sometimes they get stuck on the opposite side.
Similarly, you want to make sure to cut away excess plastic let from the drill to make sure it doesn’t block the metal peg in the inside of the bucket.
You’ll want to use a drill bit per the recommendations in the manual for the chicken nipples. Our set stated to use a 5/16 or 11/32, but please double check in case the manufacturer ever changes that sizing!
Your hole will look like this. Before inserting the nipple, you need to make sure there’s no excess plastic on the inside of the bucket that will block the waterer pieces. I had to cut them off with scissors.
You can see on the bottom right how there’s a little excess plastic next to the inside part of the water nipple? That’s AFTER I cut away a bunch.
Once you have the holes ready to go, you can insert the nipples. DO NOT PUSH HARD. You’ll need to firmly push initially, but once it catches a bit, you want to gently screw it in. This should be TIGHT.
I added 5 per bucket. Each nipple should be sufficient for 4 birds so 5 nipples should be enough for my flock of 18.
Fill it with water and let it sit on the driveway on a sunny day. If it’s leaking, you’ll see wet spots around it. If you see any leaking, screw in the nipples further. Some people use caulk for the interior of the bucket to help prevent leaks; this was NOT necessary for our waterers.
Once you’ve confirmed it’s not leaking, pop the lid on and you’re ready to put it in with your chickens. I recommend keeping water and feed OUTSIDE the coop. We have a predator proof chicken run attached to our coop so feed and water can stay outdoors. It helps keep the bedding and coop clean-ish.
Overall, this works GREAT. I need to haul around a 5 gallon bucket as I moved the tractor which isn’t ideal, but I didn’t want to add the weight of the bucket to my tractor. The chickens have NO problem accessing water, it doesn’t seem to leak, and if it does leak then it’s just into the grass.
My MAIN complaint is that the chickens love to sit on top of it and of course… poop. So I have to wash the top off regularly. It’s WAY better than leaving the top off though and risking drowning/poopy water.
Here’s the video of the process!
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