Jennifer Reyes 08/09/23

DIY Project: Turning a 55-Gallon Drum into a Year-Round Chicken Watering System

DIY Project: Turning a 55-Gallon Drum into a Year-Round Chicken Watering System
Jennifer Reyes

Building Your Own Year-Round Chicken Watering System

Building an automatic chicken waterer from a 55-gallon drum is a great idea for any chicken coop. This system will provide your chickens with a constant source of fresh water all year round. In this DIY guide, we'll show you how to easily convert a rain barrel or other 55-gallon drum into a gravity-fed system for watering your flock.

Benefits of an Automatic Chicken Waterer

Providing a constant supply of fresh, clean water is one of the biggest challenges for chicken owners. Chickens need access to water at all times to stay healthy. However, traditional watering methods like bowls and small plastic waterers have some common problems. The water can easily freeze in winter or become hot in summer, making chickens avoid drinking. Algae and debris build up quickly, contaminating the water source. And small containers need frequent refilling, which is time-consuming. If the owner forgets, the chickens can go without water for too long. An automatic, large-capacity watering system solves many of these issues for chicken owners. The large reserve ensures the chickens have enough clean water even when the owner is away for a day or two.

An automatic waterer has many advantages over traditional waterers:

  • Provides a constant supply of clean water. You won't have to worry about the water running dry between fill-ups.

  • Reduces algae buildup. Water sits longer in manual systems, allowing algae to grow. An automatic system provides fresher water.

  • Lower chances of freezing in winter. The water movement and volume help prevent ice build-up.

  • Allows you to have some freedom to leave your chickens without worrying about the chickens' water supply.

Supplies Needed

To build your 55-gallon chicken waterer, you'll need:

  • 55-gallon plastic drum or barrel

  • 3/4" hose bib spigot

  • 3/4" PVC male adapter

  • PVC cement

  • Hose clamp

  • 3/4" hose (length depends on the distance from the coop to a water source)

  • Chicken nipples or nipple plugs and fittings (number depends on the size of the flock)

How to Assemble the Watering System

Building the system is simple:

  1. Drill a hole near the bottom of the 55-gallon drum to install the hose bib. Use silicone to ensure a watertight seal.

  2. Attach a PVC male adapter to the hose bib using PVC cement. Allow to cure before use fully.

  3. Run your hose from the water source to the male adapter on the drum. Secure with a hose clamp.

  4. Install chicken nipple plugs along PVC pipe inside the coop. Run PVC through the side of the drum.

  5. Place the drum on blocks to create gravity flow from the drum to the nipple plugs.

Get ready to see the success of your new chicken watering system.

Filling and Using the Watering System

Filling the 55 gallon drum is easy. Simply turn on the hose bib and allow water to flow through the hose. The drum will fill with pressure from your water source.

To use, make sure the hose bib is turned on so water can flow into the nipple plugs. The pressure created from the height will push water through the nipples as needed when chickens peck to drink.

Make sure to check periodically that all parts are functioning well and not leaking. And remember to drain and refresh the water as needed to keep it clean for your flock.

In winter or freezing temperatures, you can wrap an electric heating wrap around the 55-gallon drum to help prevent the water from freezing. The heating wrap will ensure your chickens have access to liquid water even when temperatures drop below freezing outside. Just make sure the heating wrap is designed for outdoor use and has chew-proof cord protection.

Also, consider placing the 55-gallon drum inside an insulated enclosure or coop to protect it from the elements. This will help retain heat and keep the water flowing freely all season long. Insulating and heating the water supply is crucial for winter chicken care.

Get Started on Your Automatic Watering System Today!

Installing an automatic 55 gallon drum chicken waterer is an easy DIY project that can provide fresh, clean water to your flock at all times. The constant supply of water in winter helps prevent freezing while also reducing algae growth in summer. And the large capacity means you can leave for a few days without worrying about your chickens' water access. Follow the steps above to build your own gravity-fed watering system today!