Automatic Water for Your Pets

If you have livestock or outdoor pets you know how important it is to keep them watered, but also know that sometimes you are not around when the trough runs dry. [Buddy] solves this inconvenience with a trip to the hardware store and some creativity.

The automatic water filler is made from some PVC pipe, brass fittings, a faucet supply and a toilet float valve. The PVC is arranged into a hook shape, a fitting is put on one end for a standard garden hose. On the other end a bit of adapting is needed to convert the PVC into a faucet supply, where the toilet valve is hooked up. Now whenever your thirsty beasts get the water too low, the float lowers and tops off the watering hole with fresh H20. That sure beats running out there every day to make sure, especially with summer just around the bend.


  1. anti-siphon valve needed says:

    You’ll want to put a one-way anti-siphon valve on that – unless you want animal fecal bacteria to make its way back to your drinking water.

  2. Rusty says:

    Very nice. This makes it portable. When I was growing up my uncle and I just plumbed a toilet valve through the bottom the the trough.

  3. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Ok, this is genius.

  4. GWDev says:

    I did this for my chickens a while back. Added a few poultry nipples to a bucket and used the valve to keep the bucket full. It’s still in place and working today.

  5. Aeromaster1 says:

    nice idea but I would add a backflow preventer or anti-siphon valve to prevent contaminated water from being siphoned back into a home water system in case of low supply pressure.

  6. Chris Muncy says:

    This is a nice idea, but for $15 and a trip to my local feed store I can get a float valve for my troughs.

    If I installed that in my troughs, my horses would tear it up.

  7. This is a great Hack .no electricity involed ,no wiring skills needed. youll see many more ideas from this ,Thank You

  8. Jason Ash says:

    I agree with Chris. This is an interesting hack, but $15 and you can have one of these:

    I use these for my horses, cows, goats, and dogs. Couldn’t imagine trying to hack something together when you can get these so cheap.

    • Buddy says:

      I agree, there are some great commercial options out there now. I started using these back in 2008 because the best thing I could find was around $50, back then making one of these cost about $18 and I guess I never really went looking again for a commercial solution after I rigged this up. I only recently decided to write up some of my homebrew solutions to see if I could get a bit of scratch from a blog, and I will be sure in the future to research commercial options before I post an old hack next time.

      • Andrew says:

        Please post them anyway, just say they’re old or something. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see more projects like this. Plus, it could lead someone to a solution for something else that may not have a simple commercial alternative, even if your project does have one.

      • saul_goode says:

        I hope that was sarcasm… kinda part of the point of hacking- to be able to solve a problem despite there being an exact commercial application.

        They might make similar devices for livestock but seeing seeing your hack has inspired a /better/ solution than I had in mind for the Super-Deluxe Ball Python cage plans that have been on my drawing desk for about 2 years.

        Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Ren says:

    It sure beats setting up the whole toilet in kennel for the dog to drink out of…

  10. fartface says:

    $16.00 at a fish supply store and he would have had a cheaper and better solution that survives freezing.

    Sometimes it pays to research a solution before embarking on a quest.

    Simply float that has a lever that holds a rubber washer against a inlet hole. works great and a 1/4 inch fill tube will work just fine even for horses.

  11. Velli says:

    Good hack as a creative exercise, or if you have the parts already and no toilet that’s going to need them.

    If you have a working phone you could purchase a auto-waterer that’s purpose-built for this and get it shipped to you overnight for less money than the materials cost.

  12. GoatMan says:

    I don’t think this should be on the site as its a useless and dangerous hack. As its been stated, that is in serious need of an anti-siphon valve otherwise you run the risk of contamination. that hang over the trough. Its whats required by the local dairy inspectors. Its going to run a lot cheaper than this contraption and a lot easier to install. Just my 2 cents

  13. AllThatJazz says:

    Good if you’re just using what’s laying around. Otherwise, Stetson (not the hat) makes a 3/8 float valve “*For industrial coolers – swimming pools – fountains – and stock tanks *” for only $12. Or $23 if you want the (recommended)integral vacuum breaker.
    Took Google all of 0.22 seconds to find that one!

  14. Andrew says:

    I don’t see any purple primer on those PVC joints…tisk tisk.

  15. Dan says:

    Over here in New Zealand, just about every single large animal’s trough has something just like this. For Cows. Horses, Sheep…

    You implementation looks very neat. And it may be the most cost effective also, as the commercially made ones probably sell with the troughs.

  16. therian says:

    so half the water will always be stall with lot of bacteria in it.
    fresh water + bad water = bad water

    • karl says:

      I use Autopot for automatic, gravity driven ebb and flow watering in my greenhouse. See here how the device works

      If there was something similar, only larger in size, then that could solve the bad water problem.

  17. Willem says:

    We used one of these at our farm:

    Simple steel construction and screws onto the side of the bowl.
    Its the easiest and cheapest solution and lasts for years.

  18. Tony says:

    Most places require backflow prevention on hose bibs to help protect your home from whatever you might connect to the end of your garden hoses. It wouldn’t hurt to have extra protection but I don’t buy the argument that this is any less safe than a store bought waterer.

  19. atm473 says:

    PVC is not supposed to be used with potable water, It is known to cause cancer. Would you want to drink from the automatic cancer toilet? Then why would you force your animals to do so?

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