Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DIY Glass Chicken & Poultry Waterer

The Glass Natural Chicken Keeping Waterer

By Sue -

I’m not a fan of plastic for a variety of health reasons, so I've been trying to come up with an all-glass waterer that is easy to fill, use, clean, and has a nice flat bottom so that it can sit on a water heating base in the winter if necessary. When fellow Natural Chicken Keeping Forum member MLOwen posted her plastic chicken waterer on the forum a "light bulb" went on for me, and I realized that I could make one from glass pretty easily.

So why don't I just use a glass bowl?

This waterer will be my
indoor, year-round waterer for the coop. In the summer I put Pyrex pans outside with water in various places so they can drink and stand in them if they want. But I always keep a main waterer in the hen house year-round.

For the year-round waterer, (whether used indoors or out) I don't want to have a large, open bowl getting dirt and shavings kicked into it. And because I live in a cold climate, I don't want any possibility of them stepping in the water in the winter and getting frost bite. I only want a small opening for them to drink from.

You might ask why I wouldn't just use my "vintage" glass waterers that work with an upside down canning jar since they are both glass and have a restricted area to drink from. 
I have several reasons:

1. They have to be turned upside down just like the plastic base, canning jar waterers that you can get everywhere.. I
hate having to turn waterers upside down. Additionally, the glass vintage kind doesn't allow the jar to be screwed in place so you have to pick up the base and jar together when you want to empty, clean and refill. I'd like to just be able to pick it up and set it down like normal without dumping water all over....and maybe wash out the dish part without having to dump out the whole waterer.

The Vintage Jar Waterer:

Zoom in (real dimensions: 960 x 720)

2. The base is not flat on the bottom so it doesn't make good contact with a heater base. It only has a relatively thin rim that it sits on. It was enough to keep the water open in the dish, but the water in the jar would begin to freeze from the top down.

See how the base has a rim (not a great photo)

Zoom in (real dimensions: 960 x 720)

3. I wanted to be able to make a waterer that would hold more than a quart if I wanted to.

why do they make them upside down anyway?
Because you have to have an air-tight seal or the water will just pour right out the bottom and spill everywhere.

So...on to:
The All-Glass Natural Chicken Keeping Glass Waterer

- I used a canning jar and a glass bowl (Anchor Glass). The canning jar shown here is 1/2 gallon capacity and I found the
perfect size glass bowl after some searching around.

-I set the jar into the bowl and made a mark on the glass at the height of the bowl top. The Hole needs to be drilled below the bowl height, of course, as the water depth in the bowl will rise to the top of the height of the hole.

- Purchased a a 1/2" glass and tile drill bit. (Tried using a smaller bit first, but found that 1/2" worked very well for water flow.)

- Then, very carefully drilled a hole at the right height. This is the tricky part as drilling glass can be a little unstable. I tried 2 different kinds of bits and liked the one shown best. I wore goggles, long sleeves and gloves just in case there was a shatter. I also practiced on a different jar the first time. Not one mishap!

I was very careful to wash out the jar and re-wash out the jar, as well as testing the edge of the drilled hole to be sure no glass shards or sharp edges were left to harm the chickens.

 -Now I needed an AIR TIGHT LID. Canning jar flat lids will make an air-tight seal when screwed down tight. (These are easily replaceable when needed...available everywhere!) I put one inside one of the plastic lids designed for canning jars to make the seal. However, you can use a regular metal ring rather than the plastic. I used the plastic ones because I happened to have one and because I know that the metal ones can rust and deteriorate and become hard to remove over time. The plastic and the flat lid will not come in contact with the water.

-When I fill the canning jar, I simply put my thumb flat over the hole. You could use a cork if desired, but the thumb method seems to work just fine. After it is filled, keeping the thumb over the hole, screw the flat down tight using either the plastic lid or metal ring. You can now either lay the canning jar down flat on its back with the hole up and remove your thumb from the hole as the water won't spill out, or just keep your thumb over the hole while carrying it out to put in the bowl.

-To put it in the bowl, put your thumb over the hole, put the jar over the bowl, remove thumb and set the jar into the bowl. It won't dump much water at that point so you have plenty of time to get it settled down into the bowl while holding the jar from the top.

-It will fill right up to the top of the hole level and stop. Refilling as the birds drink just to the level of the hole as long as the seal is screwed down tight to make it air tight.

-When I need to clean the bowl or refill the jar, I can lift it right up (upright) and tilt it back with the hole up. I have laid it on the floor on its back or on top of any other surface as the canning jars have "flat sides" and won't roll away. Pick up the bowl, dump and rinse out, replace the bowl and put the jar back in if not adding more water. Or rinse out the jar, re-fill as above, and replace onto the bowl.
Much thanks to mlowen for the inspiration!

Note from Sue:
Regular followers have heard me talking about using glass forever on The Natural Chicken Keeping Forum - and about all the "evils" of plastic. I get especially concerned about the xenoestrogens in plastics and other manufactured products, siding on our houses, paints, pesticides in our foods and in the environment, etc. etc., etc.

There are so many people that are having estrogen-related issues due to overload in our modern times that I like to avoid plastics as much as possible. I surely don't want to add more estrogens to my food supply! (After all, healthy food is one of the main reasons I have the chickens!) See some links at the bottom of this post if you're interested in reading more about it.

Animal health and longevity are also at risk from these same factors...

A few Plastic/Estrogen related informational links:

-Here's a link with a quick list of items from which we get estrogens.

- Article: The Terrible Truth About Plastics...

-Plastics Affecting Children's Health

Much, much more out there on xenoestrogens and estrogens. Google "estrogens in the environment" for more they effect cancer, development in boys, etc.

- Sue -

From The Farm Blog Hop



  1. Sue, great post! I actually have a glass drill bit from making some Christmas light filled wine bottles a few years back. I don't use plastic either. ACV doesn't work in metal, so glass is perfect! I would love for you to share at the From the Farm Blog Hop!

  2. Brilliant! Thanks soooo much!!!
    Peace, Terry

  3. I've searched and searched, and you're the only chicken keeper I can find (w/ a blog) who has made a point of avoiding plastic in the coop when possible/practical. I have just gotten my first baby chicks - just 3 - and my brooder waterer is one of glass and metal, made for hamsters and such. Their food is in a partial single row of a cardboard egg carton stapled to the cardboard box wall. So far, no plastic! I want to keep this going when they move to their coop. Thanks for a more affordable way of doing this than buying antique glass chicken waterers on eBay!

  4. I will be having Ducks on the farm soon and I am the same way. I don't want to use any plastic and galvanized steel containers have the zinc coating that when using my natural additives to the water can deteriorate the container as well.... I need a glass feeder and watered and can't find any ANYWHERE. Very frustrating. How do I make these for my Ducks? I may have missed how it was secured so that the glass jar doesn't fall over? Thanks so much!

    1. The jar simply sits in the glass bowl and can be picked up separately when things need to be cleaned out.
      Yes - ducks can get pretty excited about water and may be more problematic as far as keeping the jar upright when the water level gets low. If tipping becomes a problem. perhaps you could place the waterer in a corner of their pen and devise a removable board (or even spring-tight shower curtain rod) to fit over the top - going catty-corner from one corner wall to the other to help prevent tipping.
      (I hope I'm making sense.)
      Be creative! you'll find something that will work!

  5. Thank you for this idea! I, too, only use glass but was having trouble designing a glass waterer for the coop.

  6. Thank you for your informative, valuable post. I appreciate your sensitivity to plastics as I share your views, they are harmful & should be avoided. I looked up 'glass water feeders for chickens' because I wanted to create a healthy, reliable source of water for our local honeybee population. If I fill the bottom tray with decorative rocks & colorful glass beads, the bees can rest on them while they fill up with much needed hydration for their sisters back at the hive!
    Thank you, thank you, 1000-times thank you for your informative, well thought out post. I will post this information on our local bee sites as well as give you credit on my blog (, see Bee Cause!) for your brilliant idea!
    Keep shining brightly, the world needs more people like you... �� �� ��

  7. I'm so glad I came across this post. My fiancee finds antique bottles and I have always wanted to find more uses for them. I'm going to try this out shortly. :)

  8. thank you for making a stand on plastic waterers, like the design, and all glass. we need no plastic in our lives, and less and less seems to be the way to get there . keep up the good work!


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