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How to Make a Chicken or Pet Watering System

| Updated August 11, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • 4-quart square or round bucket

  • airtight fitting lid

  • electric drill

  • 1/4-inch drill bit

  • six 1/4-inch corks

  • 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch-deep plastic/rubber pan


  • Show newly hatched chicks where to find water and check water often when rearing chicks. Chicks under two weeks of age are clumsy and still learning their environment, which puts them at risk for dehydration and injury. Signs of dehydration include dark, wrinkled skin around the flanks and, for chicks, no peeping.


  • Place clean pebbles or rocks in the bottom of the trough to prevent chicks under two weeks of age from drowning. One large, clean rock placed inside the reservoir increases stability and prevents spills. Routine maintenance to clean, repair and replace watering systems reduces the chance of waterborne bacteria causing illnesses.

Many people enjoy having their own chickens to produce eggs, create a rhythmic barnyard atmosphere and generate a form of organic pest control. Automatic watering systems are necessary because clean water makes the chicken and egg healthier. Drip systems are unreliable because they become clogged easily and chicks can die quickly from dehydration. Gravity systems are a bit more reliable because they are always available and easy to maintain.

Turned the lidded 4-quart container on its side. Box the bucket in place using bags of sand or concrete blocks. Drill four to six 1/4-inch holes (evenly spaced) 1/2 inch up from the bottom of the bucket and plug the holes with cork. This container will now act as the water reservoir. Rinse and wash the bucket to remove debris and soil. Allow the bucket to dry, then fill the bucket with water and replace the lid.

Place a pan that is two inches in diameter larger than the water reservoir in the desired watering location. This will serve as the watering trough. Then, place the accompanying water reservoir inside the watering trough bottom-end down. Remove one cork and allow the pan to fill with water. Once the pan fills up level with the drilled holes, the water should not continue to run into the pan until the water level drops below the holes. If the gravity holds, remove the other corks from the reservoir.

Construct additional watering systems to accommodate flock size. Each chicken requires at least two cups of water a day. Because water is so vital to the health of chickens, as well as their meat and egg quality, one watering system for every five chickens provides enough water and watering space to ensure that chicks and adults have room to drink freely.