Jamey came home from running errands the other day with six Rhode Island Red chicks. The kids were ecstatic and so was I. Nothing says spring like sweet little chicks that will grow into hens who will lay eggs for us, get into the garden and flower beds, poop in the yard...oh, wait. Happy thoughts. Chicks are just precious:-).
They started out inside, right off our mudroom, but quickly transitioned outside to the chicken tractor. A heat lamp over a bed of straw will keep them nice and warm.
Jamey is a wiz at rigging things up (that's really the best way to say it). Our chickens have access to water in the chicken house but they spend so much of their time outside, we wanted to give them outside access as well. Here's an action shot of them enjoying a fresh drink. Go, go gadget neck!
The way this system works is that water is pumped from our cistern (or well in winter) into the top of a 50 gallon barrel via a standard hose. The water flows out the bottom, through another hose that leads to the basin (technically, the cut-off bottom three inches of a five gallon bucket). In the basin (seen above) is a float valve (the black thing) that keeps the water from continuing to run once the basin is full (keeping it from overflowing). As the chickens drink the water, the float valve lowers and lets more water in. The wooden block and clamps attached to the float valve just keep the valve at the desired level.
The screen over the barrel keeps the mosquitoes out and is held in place with a wire wrapped around and twisted like a twisty tie so it can be removed easily when more water is needed. The lid has brackets on the inside to keep it from sliding off the top when the wind blows hard or kids bump it.
It's a low maintenance, high-ish tech, low cost means of keeping your chickens watered that doesn't require tons of attention. It's right up our alley.