Rain collecting passive poultry waterer, take 2

The ducks and their chicken friends seem happy in the duckyard. Every night I tuck them into the old chicken tractor (which never will be mobile again, sadly) and check their feed and water. Which inevitably need refilling, which means I get to crouch down to chicken-tractor height and squelch through all that …not so good smelling mud, drag the containers out, all the way up to the house (we don’t have electricity or water down there) and then drag them back in again even heavier, all the way to the back of the tractor (why did I put the roof all the way at the back?!) to protect the feed from rain.

(The only upside is that the ducks are more cuddly at night, and come over and give me ducky kisses all over when I’m in there with them. I love ducks. Though I still wish they didn’t poo.)

Anyway it’s just gross, and a lot more work than it has to be. I knew I should be able to come up with something that would supply them longer than one day – and something that could be easily filled from the outside!

Because of my success with the previous poultry waterer tank I made, I decided to start with the waterer. One of the main problems is that without running water nearby, filling buckets etc. becomes a huge pain. I wanted to harvest some rainwater so I could go longer between refills, but there is no way to collect rainwater from the roof of the duck house. So this waterer had to have passive rain collection built into it. (I was thinking along the lines of giant funnels, or something? I had no idea what I was going to do, but I’d figure it out when I got to that point.)

I bought a 55 gallon rubbermaid trash can, a float-regulated livestock waterer dish, a small tube of 100% silicone sealant, and these:

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(except make that drill bit a 1″, not a 7/8″.) That gray thing is a thick rubber washer.

I drilled a 1″ hole a few inches up from the bottom – not on the bottom – of the trash can. Why not on the bottom? Because this way, there is room for sediment and other random floaty crap to settle onto the bottom of the tank rather than being sucked into the output hose and gumming up the workings at the other end.

I liberally siliconed both sides of the hole, stuck the male connector through, then wrapped the threads clockwise with teflon tape. I fit on the rubber washer and then sealed the goose-neck-shutoff over the whole thing to close any gaps.

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teflon taped, just before attaching the gooseneck valve.

After waiting for a day for the silicone to dry and set, I cut a piece of screen and fit it over the top of the male connector on the inside, wrapping it with wire. It’s there to screen out any larger detritus that may randomly get into the tank. (Why wait to do this til the silicone had sealed? In case I ever needed to get into the connection there, I didn’t want the screen to be glued in place.)

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fitting the screen hood, then removing it before attaching the male connector.

Then I had an insight that made me literally slap my own forehead. I figured out how to make a funnel as wide as the entire trash can: just invert the lid.

I had some galvanized screen patches on hand (I didn’t use plastic because I didn’t want them to degrade in sunlight) and I sized my drill bit to fit easily inside of those patches. I drilled three holes along the center of the lid (would have been only one, except for those two ridges you can see). I generously siliconed the holes’ circumferences and screwed the wire patches on top using big washers, making sure the screen was well embedded in the silicone so no detritus can make its way under the screen into the tank.

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… lo and behold, the pieces fit as if they were made for each other. :)

 

 

I also wanted a way to see the water level without having to go into the duck yard to lift the lid. I put together a pretty nifty little flotation device but ran into some unexpected problems with it that I’m still trying to iron out. So I’ll save that part for a later blog post. (Plus, I’ve been hired to write an article about this stuff for an online magazine, so I can’t share all my secrets with you here yet. :)

In the mean time I’ve already got this bad boy raised up on cinderblocks and connected to the waterer dish. Everything (except the darn float) seems to be working fabulously. We’re in the middle of a furious thunderstorm right now actually – and I’m so tempted to run out into the rain and see how the funnel is working, ha!

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One Response to “Rain collecting passive poultry waterer, take 2”

  1. Heidi Says:

    I sent this link on to your Dad. He might have an insight to do with your float problem. He did one for the old water tank here. (Remember?) In the meantime, congrats on your watering idea and the writup.
    Could you do an automatic feeder idea similar to that of dogs who are allowed only a certain ration (in cups of kibble) by pressing a bar, or some such?

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