Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

A Water Tower for the Chickens

One of the earliest lessons that anyone learns when they start keeping chickens is that water is heavy. Lugging around gallons of water for the chickens is not a fun thing to do, and the older we get, the clearer that lesson becomes. The solution is to have the water piped directly to the chickens.

I have tried just about every possible method of delivering water to my chickens, so I now have a box filled with waterers that I no longer use. Someone who uses city water has more possibilities, but our well water has so much mineral content that anything that uses a regulator or metal valves will last only months before it is completely useless.

In order to get a consistent supply of low pressure water, I decided that a gravity feed system is what I need. I also wanted a system that keeps the water as clean as possible and has enough pressure and volume to supply water to several places – not just a single chicken coop.

The tower was mostly built on its side. Having a flat concrete slab to work on helped keep things relatively square.

The parts were clamped into place, then pilot holes were drilled. The tower was assembled with stainless steel lag bolts.

With the main frame of the tower completed, we moved it into place near the chickens. We made sure it was far enough away from trees so it wouldn't be damaged by falling branches during a storm.

The valve section is just slip-fit into the pipe so that it can be removed if needed. The bronze water spigot is where a hose is connected using a double-female connector to pump water into the tank.

The tank is a 35 gallon sprayer tank from Tractor Supply. It turned out to be perfect for the project.

The main water line is buried with screw plugs placed every 10' (indicated by the posts of the chain link fence just a few feet back). This gives flexibility in where chicken coops are located in the future.

The end of the main water pipe has a stub so that more can be added to the end by cutting and adding a coupling. Since this photo was taken, I have replaced the end cap with a gate valve. When it is time to fill the tank, I open the valve to flush out the main supply line and empty the tank before refilling it.

View showing the roof and two sides. At this point, the back and the front door have not yet been added. The roof is hinged at the back and slopes toward the front. (If it sloped to the back, it would be pouring onto the 'chicken nursery' behind it.)

To get more use from the tower, cattle panels were attached to the sides, and pole beans and cucumbers were planted around the sides and front.

The cattle panel trellis was attached to the top 2x4 using stainless steel wire.

The completed tower, fully enclosed. It is important to keep the sun off of the tank to keep the water cool and to discourage the growth of algae in the tank.

When filling the tank, the front door is propped open with a stick.


  1. Wyandotte

    I know I’m a year late in telling you, but that is a fabulous setup.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, ma’am. It has worked out very well so far. A full tank will last almost a month – the downside to that is that it’s easy to just forget about it and risk running out of water.

  2. Karan

    I too came to realize that lugging water to the coop was just tooo labor intensive so I designed a chicken coop (20 x20) to hold 100 birds. the roof is on quite the slope so that when it rains the water flows down to a gutter and into a 250 gallon tote I already had on the property. This is being supported by cinder blocks as that much water is very heavy…and the tank wrapped with this wonderful material they use to make walk in coolers…( 2 inch insulation sandwhiched between two pieces of metal)..this then flows into a low pressure water system , the little cups, that are attached to the inside walls of the coop. If, for some reason, we don’t get enough water, i can fill with hose….

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Excellent! Any time we can do something to make it more self-sustaining (like letting rain water fill the tank that then feeds the chicken waterers) is a major step in the right direction. I’m currently looking at some way to add overhead wire (hawk protection) to a 20 x 20 section for raising ducks. They will have the run of the yard once they’re big enough, but it’s that in-between stage that has to be addressed. They’re too big to keep in the 10 x 10 “nursery” but they’re too small to be predator-proof. At night, of course, they all get locked up to keep them safe from coons, possums, foxes, bears, and other assorted critters that roam the night around here.

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