A question came up about our birds and the recent heatwave about whether or not they were getting enough water. I think that's a fair question and I'd like to show you all how we tended to the issue of making sure they always had plenty to drink. This setup is very easy to do. I hope we all get a chance to roll a little green ingenuity into our lives and enjoy the urban agriculture movement here in Brookfield.
We've been making do with a 1 gallon watering dish for the girls. Now that they're laying, it's not even getting them through the day. They're consuming feed at at least twice the rate that they used to, and now the water needs to be filled up twice a day. So in order to make sure fresh water is always available to them, I devised a contraption that involves a gravity-fed auto-waterer, a food-safe rain barrel, and food-safe tubing (came with the waterer), a cage around the dish, and a paving stone to elevate the dish a bit so the girls won't get it so dirty.
From my research, if you're going to use a rain barrel for consumption or on edibles, it must be made of food-safe plastic and not be connected to your downspouts. There are petroleum byproducts in shingles and tar that will leach into the water if you hook it up to anything coming off your roof.
I bought this low pressure automatic waterer meant for backyard chickens online ($34.90). There's nothing to it. There's a dial to adjust the pressure while the water is released into the bowl. There's a float inside that shuts the tap off when the bowl is full. In short, awesome. So much better than the risk of leaving a dry bowl for the poor hens. I added the cage ($24) around the bowl in hopes that it'll help keep it from getting so dirty. The girls love to kick all sorts of gunk in there and I figure if I'm not going to have to keep as close a watch on their water, I should make sure it stays as clean as possible for as long as possible.
I've procured an empty feed barrel from our local farm supply store ($15) and will be cutting a hole in the lid to be lined with mesh for collection from the sky instead of the downspout. Until we start getting enough rain to keep it full, I'll fill it from the hose. Can't wait to get the whole thing up and running. For now I'm doing a test run with the waterer hooked up to the hose and it's working like a dream!