Steve’s Garden Coop and DIY Chicken Watering System, Seattle, Washington

Steve H. in Seattle sent in pictures of his completed Garden Coop along with instructions for making a homemade chicken nipple waterer. The rest of this post comes straight from Steve:

» UPDATE: We now offer push-in poultry nipples as well as fully assembled nipple waterers. Have a look!


Building a backyard coop using plans

Building The Garden Coop

I enjoyed building the coop and am enjoying the chickens even more. The coop plans were great. While I have some experience building, the plans freed me up from having to do any framing calculations, which alone was worth the price.

Tool rack added to the side of The Garden CoopI added a tool storage rack fashioned from a 2×8 and some old railroad spikes attached to the right side of the coop. It’s under the overhang, so the tools stay dry, and I can always find them (at least in theory). I also made some finish changes (bigger egg door, full access door on left side, different ramp, out-swinging door, etc.).

Nipple Waterer for Backyard Chickens

I designed and made a very simple watering system that makes the urban chicken farmer’s life a lot simpler. Below is a photo of the nipples in action. (Or watch a brief video here.) If you push the metal pin at the bottom at any angle, water dribbles out.

DIY Chicken Waterer Plans

What you’ll need:

  • Three watering nipples
  • A five-gallon bucket
  • 8 to 10 feet of 3/4 inch PVC pipe
  • Two PVC elbows, a cap, and a coupler
  • Watertight fitting to connect the pipe to the bucket. A full-service hardware store can hook you up with what you need for this.
  • A post. I used a cedar pole salvaged from a downed tree, but any post will do.

Putting it together. Set a post outside the coop. Cut three pieces of pipe as shown. Drill a hole in the bucket. Connect the pipe to the bucket with the watertight fitting. Drill small holes (size determined by the nipples you purchase) in the length of pipe that will extend into the coop and insert the nipples into the holes. Assemble the pieces and fill with water.

You need some support to hold up the first elbow downstream from the bucket. I used a piece of fishing line. Also, attach the pipe inside the coop to the underside of the henhouse. A nylon slip tie and a piece of string should work.

Support the pipe with fishing wireHow well does it work? It works great. The water is always clean and lasts weeks. The chickens adjusted to drinking from the nipples in less than a day. “Training” them was definitely not necessary. They eventually figured it out. I’m told that the chickens are attracted by the red color. I left a regular waterer in the coop for a couple of weeks just in case, but they didn’t seem to be using it. So now it’s all nipples, all the time.

Cost. Maybe 10 bucks excluding shipping of the nipples.

Cleaning. After a while I saw a small amount of green algal growth at the bottom of the bucket. I didn’t use any glue in assembling the system – i.e., it’s all pressure fit. Every two weeks or so, I detach the pipe from the coupling at the bucket, wash the bucket out, set it back on the post, reattach the pipe, and refill the bucket. Takes five minutes.

Height of bucket. My original thought was to attach some sort of platform to the back of the coop itself, and I did want it high enough to create enough water pressure at the nipples. But I used a five-foot cedar pole that I cut and stripped from a tree that came down a couple of winters ago. An unintended benefit is aesthetics. Looking at the coop from the front or the side, you cannot see the bucket!

—Steve H., Seattle, Washington

A big thank you to Steve for sharing photos and video of his chicken coop and his ideas on building a DIY nipple waterer. Comments? Ideas to share? Let us know with a reply below. And take a look at our pre-made chicken waterers and DIY push-in poultry nipples here.

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