After two (or is it three now?) years of experience with the Mega-Waterer under my belt, there were a few improvements I’ve been mulling over.
The main problem continues to be excess water dripping from the nipples down onto the floor and all the bedding. The water heater pan from version 1.3 hasn’t really helped in the winter. We just get these lovely ice-stalagmites. Sure this is only a problem during the winter now that we have the Winebeggo, but the inevitable wet bedding is a nasty, smelly mess and we’d like to avoid it this winter. Add to that the fact that we’re up to over 400 hens, and we needed something with a bit more capacity.
Enter the Mega-Waterer 2.0
It all starts off with this 9′ long mess of 1″ PVC pipe (with nipples, of course) and a 10′ section of vinyl gutter.
Now this all may look an awful lot like our Pastured Chicken Waterers, but there are a few important differences that make this worthy of a Minnesota winter. First, a return leg and second, the gutter. The return leg allows us to circulate water through the pipe, keeping us from having to use an energy-sucking heat tape to keep the pipe from turning into one big ice cube. The gutter is going to catch all the drips and give the chickens a second chance to drink up all the water they spill. Since the return leg (which is full of above freezing water) is down in the gutter, it should prevent any water in the gutter from freezing.
Now in order to make this work we’ll need a water pump. Nothing fancy, this little $9 water pump from Harbor Freight is more than up to the task. Attached to a bit of 1/2″ID 3/4″OD tubing and it’s ready to go, that size tubing fits nicely into the back of a 3/4″ Barb/MPT fitting.
My first idea was to use an empty 325 gallon IBC tote as the reservoir for this particular waterer. More is better, is it not? But then I ran into two rather unforgiving dimensional challenges. An IBC tote is too big to fit through the chicken coop door. To make matters worse, the hole in the top of the tote is too small to accommodate a stock tank de-icer.
Oh well, I just had to settle with a measly 55-gallon reservoir. Drill one hole for water going out, another for return and drop the pump and de-icer in. A few weeks in service and there is absolutely NO water on the floor and all bajillion hens are drinking happily from the same waterer with no squabbles over space at the trough.
As expected, the chickens drink any water that accumulates in the gutter first. Let nothing go to waste.