Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Build a Cheap, Sturdy Poultry Waterer

If you have chickens or know someone who does you have probably seen a chicken waterer that looks like this before:

They aren't very exciting. And a one-gallon plastic "poultry drinker" will run you at least $7. The plastic gets brittle with exposure to sunlight and if you lose your patience in the wintertime while trying to knock the ice rings out then it will break (ahem). I've cracked three in the last year, which is why I will never buy the plastic ones again. They also sell galvanized waterers, which are very sturdy and last a long time but are very expensive ($25 or more). 

Our young poultry are drinking a lot of water these days and I needed some more drinkers. So I grabbed a couple of giant tin cans that I had saved, which appear to be nearly a gallon in size. I had bought giant cans of diced tomatoes at Costco a couple of times and the cans were so big I couldn't bear to throw them in the recycling bin. I just knew I would find a use for them. If you don't have any giant tin cans laying around (what, you don't make spaghetti for 25 people?) you can ask for extras at restaurants.

Now I needed a base for each can. I stopped at Goodwill and looked for pie pans bigger than my tin cans. They didn't have any pie pans but I found three shiny metal pans that look exactly like my dog's water dish but shallower. (They look almost just like a pie pan but the metal is different.) They were $1.99 each so I bought all three.

My old tin cans and two shiny dog dishes/pie plates
I came home and used a hammer and a nail to open a hole in the tin can, approximately 1/2" in diameter and located about 1/2" from the open end of the can.

It doesn't have to be pretty.

Done. That's it. Nothing needs to be done to secure the tin can to the base. I just fill the tin with water, slap the pie pan on top of it, then carefully invert the whole business quickly so the water doesn't slosh out. The water dribbles out of the hole in the can and fills the "ring" created by the pie pan. The level of the water in the pan is determined by how high up  you placed the hole on the side of the tin can.

The finished product.
So far I love my new waterers. They are really easy to clean, easy to fill, and they're sturdy. Plus they cost me $2 each and look like they will last a long while.


  1. Very clever! Those plastic ones just don't last.

  2. See, I love this. Simple physics and $2! I feel like there are those of us who lend a sort of magic to store-bought stuff. Like only a factory in China knows how to make the water stay in the water feeder. When we don't know how things work, we ascribe mystical properties to regular stuff in our home. I love how you're continuing to debunk that, take things apart, and figure it out for yourself--and for us. Yippee!


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