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Lugging buckets of drinking water into the chicken coops every day is NOT one of my favorite chicken keeping tasks.   We’re always looking for simple ways to automate tasks, making things better for our livestock and easier for us to manage.   Here’s how we built a simple automated chicken watering system for multiple flocks of chickens. This watering system is very simple to build and costs less than $60. The full list of parts we used is listed at the end.

How To Build It

Determine where you want to locate the drinker cups in your chicken coop.  The PVC pipe can be attached directly to a wall or on a flat surface as we did in ours.  The cups should be elevated to a comfortable height for your chickens to drink.  Note that for the auto-fill drinker cups to work properly, they need to be able to move freely up and down.

Decide where you want your rain barrel to be located.  We put ours just outside the chicken run so we can easily fill the barrel without dragging the water hose into the coop.  Attach a short length of garden hose to the rain barrel faucet and make sure the hose reaches to where the PVC pipe will be attached.

Mark approximately where you want each drinker cup to be located in the coop and measure the distance you want between each cup.  We just spread the drinker cups out and estimated the distance between each of them – this does not need to be an exact measurement.   Next, cut lengths of PVC pipe that will be placed between each drinker cup using your estimated measurements.   Push the drinker cups tightly onto each PVC section  (you can use PVC glue on these if you like).   We actually did not use glue because I wanted the option to move the drinker cup location later on.  We ended up with a few drips here but overall not much leaking at all.

Use a short length of PVC pipe to attach to the last drinker cup and add the PVC end cap fitting.   You can glue this end cap in place if you like.  We did not glue ours because we want to add more drinker cups on the end.

Measure the distance between the first drinker cup and the garden hose attached to the rain barrel and cut a length of PVC pipe to this length. Place the length of PVC pipe between the first drinker and the water hose.  Since we have our rain barrel outside of the chicken run, we have the PVC running through the wire on the side of the run.  1/2 inch PVC fits perfectly through chicken wire without having to cut a hole, however you may need to cut a small hole if you’re coming through hardware cloth or wood.   When the PVC pipe is in place, push it onto the first drinker fitting and then push the hose attachment onto the other end.

That’s all there is to it – super simple and it saves us a ton of time every day refilling and hauling water buckets.  The only regular maintenance needed is wiping out the drinker cups when they get dirty and rinsing out the rain barrel once in a while.

Project Supplies

Here’s the list of supplies needed for this project.  You may have several of these things already around to repurpose for this project, but here is the full list of the exact pieces we used.

Repurposed rain barrel with garden hose connector – if you don’t have a rain barrel, you can use any type of barrel or large food safe bucket and add a garden hose bulkhead fitting.  We do recommend one with a shut-off valve for maintenance if needed.

1/2 inch PVC pipe, 10′  – any hardware store should have this.


Lil Clucker 5pc Large Automatic Chicken Waterer Cups PVC Tee Fittings


NIBCO C447-005 CAP


Leader Hose 5 ft


PVC Pipe Cutter


Orbit Hose Fitting


12-Pack U-Shaped PVC Water Pipe Clamps