Self-filling chicken tractor waterer

Gutter on a chicken tractorGlenn Ingram didn’t only make
his coop waterer self-filling
, he added the same
innovation (plus some) to his chicken tractor.  I’ll let him tell
you about his tractor watering system in his own words:

Here is the overall chicken tractor. It
has wheels that go up and down as needed. I like my tractor because I
almost never have to go inside. I can pour feed in from the outside,
collect eggs from a door to the outside, and water from the outside.
Better yet, have the tractor collect rain water for the chickens to

Bucket waterer overflowHere
is a close-up of the buckets. They are not heated
as I don’t keep the chickens in the tractor during freezing weather. It
has the same exact features as the 5-gallon bucket system for my larger
non-mobile coop. The problem on the chicken tractor is the lack of
vertical room for the bucket to be below the gutter yet high enough so
the chickens can get under it to drink.


So I used a 2-gallon bucket. I used a
piece of flexible sump pump hose for the overflow so I can have a
little more control of where the overflow goes to get the water away
from the tractor and yet it does not get in the way when moving it. I
put a water level indicator on the outside, which works well but you
have to take the slope into account. We have almost no flat spots on
our hilly terrain so the buckets are never level. Depending on the
slope, the indicator can make it look like there is more or less water
in the buckets than reality. Just understand what the water level will
look like with the slope.

Connecting bucketsTo
gain more water capacity, I slaved a second 2-gallon bucket to the 1st
one. This is done by simply connecting the 2 buckets with a 3/4″ pipe
at the bottom of the buckets. It can be a straight pipe, mine has a 45
degree turn to get around the post. This connection allows the 2
buckets to act like one larger bucket. As one bucket fills, the other
bucket fills, as one empties, the other empties. Be sure to drill a
small hole in the lid of the bucket without the downspout so air can
escape or enter to replace the water that is moving (otherwise you
create a vacuum and the water cannot move). This works great so that I
have about 3.5 gallons of water capacity yet the buckets fit in the
tight vertical space (a little less that 3 feet total). I never put
more that 6 chickens in the tractor so they never empty these buckets
before it rains again. If I ever do need to add water as after
cleaning, I just pour it in the gutter. I do the same thing with the
large bucket system on the main coop.

The nipple is, again on the bottom of
the bucket. I only have one nipple right now but I am going to add
another. I used some bent lightweight galvanized steel conduit to mount
the buckets, but I just used them because they were left over from
another project. I don’t know that I would recommend them as they are
not perfectly stable when moving the tractor, but they are pretty good.

The entire roof of the chicken
tractor opens which also lifts the gutter and therefore downspout out
of the bucket. I can then easily pick up both buckets at once to remove
them for cleaning or to take them inside in freezing weather.

One other note, I highly recommend
the use of Uniseals to connect pipes to buckets. You can order them
online very affordably in pretty much any size that PVC pipe comes in.
Then you just drill the appropriate-sized hole with a hole saw (they
tell you which one to use) and pop the Uniseal into place. You then
push a piece of PVC pipe of the appropriate size into the hole with the
uniseal in place. The pipe pushes the Uniseal against the sides of the
hole and seals wonderfully. There are no glues or adhesives and you
don’t even need access to the inside of the bucket. They work equally
well on curved and flat surfaces. The best part is you can pull the
pipe back out, remove the uniseal and reuse it somewhere else. I don’t
know how long they last, but they have been great for the past 8 months
with lots of sun exposure and freezing temperatures. We’ll see how they
last through the summer. I use these for making rain barrels as well.

You may also notice that I have tin
roofs on my coops. Asphalt/tar shingle roofs may not work well because
of tar from the roof getting in the water. That may or may not affect
the chickens’ health. Also, the small pieces of grit from shingles clog
up the screens requiring more maintenance. Debris also seems to wash
off the tin roof much faster so you don’t get as much bacteria growing
on the roof. I don’t know that bacteria is really a problem when
talking about a bird eating off the ground all day, but at least that
is less bacteria to be growing in their water bucket.

Thanks again for sharing
your inspiring system, Glenn!

Glenn’s waterer is based on
do it yourself
chicken waterer kit

Latest Comments

  1. DaveInNFla July 10, 2012
  2. anna July 17, 2012
  3. Bill in lenoir NC February 26, 2014

Leave a Reply