I have been working on converting the old duck pen (yeah, I gave the remaining 3 ducks away – we were not a good match) to be a better match for chickens. It has taken a few weeks of pretty regular work over evenings and weekends, but I got the final large puzzle piece completed on Sunday, which was installing roofing material (chickens don’t care for rain, whereas ducks love it). That night, I checked the local thread on the backyard chickens forum, and just a few hours prior, someone nearby had posted saying that he is moving soon, can’t take any of his chickens with him, and he has 3 3 month old Faverolles mixes that haven’t been integrated into his flock yet and he is willing to give to me. It was excellent timing! But I had a mad rush to finish up the few final details of the enclosure, like getting the water and food situation worked out. Chickens don’t need to submerge their head to clear out their nostrils like ducks do, so there are a lot of significantly cleaner ways to ensure they have water. This makes the whole watering situation much lower maintenance, reduces water waste, and can potentially be healthier for the birds. There are a few options as far as auto watering goes, but the preferred methods are chicken watering nipples and chicken watering cups. There has been some discussion on the chicken forum regarding which is better, but it seems that some birds just prefer drinking out of pools of water, and the cups are easy to clean, so I figured I’d try them out. There is a benefit to using the horizontal chicken nipples, and that is during the winter when it freezes, the cups will freeze and be useless. If you have the horizontal nipples, you can put a plastic rated stock tank heater in the bucket and the entire system should theoretically stay above freezing, giving your chickens access to clean and liquid water. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it. At this point, I was focused on getting things ready for chickens, and reusing my duck waterer setup was at the top of my list. So I bought a short section of PVC, 2 caps, and a T to set up my waterer.
The first trick is determining the correct drill bit size. I was totally unsure, so I started small and worked my way up. I used the end of a PVC pipe to drill a hole and see if I could thread one of the cups into it. When the hole was too small, I swapped out the drill bit for the next larger size, drilled the same hole open a little more, and then tried again. I finally determined that 3/8″ is the correct size for these particular watering cups. If it’s helpful at all, I bought them on ebay, but the company selling them is www.beaktime.com
I decided to put the cups on the connectors. I don’t have any rhyme or reason for why I chose this, except I thought it might look a little nicer, so I went for it. It was easy enough, I just drilled the holes.
Then I assembled the entire thing. The PVC pipe and valve coming off the bottom of that bucket were already there from the duck adventure, so I just press-fit the T and caps onto 6″ lengths of PVC and pressed it all together. This makes it entirely removable in case I need to fuss with it at all. Now when the chickens want water, all they have to do is drink out of the cup. When they stick their beak in there, they’ll bump the little plastic lever and water will come out. If I were to start from scratch, I probably would have mounted the bucket far lower and then just screwed the cups directly into the sides of the bucket. Less fuss for sure!