Welcome to the world of automatic poultry watering.  There are many reasons for having automatic poultry watering.   They can help you confidently get away from your flock for the weekend.  Cut down on morning chore time, help to keep your pens clean and also give you the satisfaction of installation and figuring out your own system.   
The set up of these systems is as limitless as your imagination.  There are a few basic setup principles that you must follow but beyond that you can certainly set them up however you would like.  This article will discuss the generalities that apply to all automatic watering poultry systems and then you can apply these principals to whichever system you would like to use. 
There are three key components that you will have to consider when choosing and setting up a system.  The first is the water supply; this can be as simple as a bucket or as complex as plumbing directly into your house.  The second is the distributing plumbing which will either be PVC piping or flexible tubing.  The third factor is your delivery method; we carry valves, troughs, nipples or cups that can perform this task.   These three important elements will all be explored below and will be covered in detail so that you can make a more informed decision.  

In this first installment on automatic watering we are going to cover the three different water supply methods you can choose from and there pros and cons.
Water Supply Introduction
The first important component to discuss is the water supply of your automatic watering system.  There are a few different ways that you can use to feed your automatic watering system the most basic breakdown of these is between gravity fed and direct feed.  Gravity fed systems use a reservoir to provide water to the system.  Think of these as supplying your own miniature water tower for your automatic watering system.  This is usually done with a five gallon bucket with a through bucket fitting.   Direct feed systems directly hook up to your water source.  These usually hook up to a garden hose and then into your system.  Next we will look at each of these water sources in detail.   The final water supply type is a hybrid of these two systems.  These are known as float valve gravity fed systems, these are great because you get the best of both worlds.  Your garden hose supplies your system with continuous fresh water but you can manually fill it and mix your system just as you would with gravity or tank fed system.

Gravity Fed System
As mentioned earlier the gravity fed system is one of the easiest and most versatile ways to get a automatic watering system up and running.  They are very economical because you can set them up by simply using a through bucket drain fitting and plumbing out the system from there.  In their simplest form you fill the bucket manually maybe bringing the water out to your chicken coop with a bucket.  They are versatile because you can also set them up with a float valve and run a hose into the system making them direct feed when the hose is hooked up.  Then if the running water stops you can still fill the system manually.  See the section below on the benefits of a Hybrid Float Valve Gravity System.

To adjust the pressure of the gravity feed automatic watering system you simply move your bucket either higher or lower.  Moving your bucket higher will result in more pressure being applied to the water in the system raising the PSI.  Moving the bucket lower will result in less pressure in the system.   

Another great feature of a gravity fed system is that you can distribute medicines very easily.  You would simply figure out the dosage that the birds need.  The dosage is usually conveyed in a certain ratio of medication to water, for instance 1 tablespoon per gallon.  Then you would empty your system, and mix your medicine right in your bucket.  So in this case you would put in 4 gallons of water and 4 table spoons of medication and let your water system distribute.  Then you don’t have to mix up this medicine in a different system and your birds would take their medication directly from the water source they are familiar with using.   When mixing meds in your watering system you should try to flush it out when you do.  This is why in the diagrams there is a drain valve so that your system can be flushed.

Direct Feed Systems

Direct feed systems are great way to avoid the hassle of bringing water out to your gravity feed system.  They are usually hooked directly to your garden hose although we have heard of customers hooking them directly into their plumbing.  Hooking directly to your garden hose ensures that your poultry are always enjoying fresh clean water whether you are there to bring it to them or not.   Many of the direct feed watering systems require that you use a pressure reducing valve.  This reduces the pressure from your standard household pressure of 40-50 Pounds per Square Inch(PSI)  down to 5-10 PSI.  This reduction is necessary so that the seals and fittings for your watering system do not get over loaded.  If you are running your direct feed water system at too high if a pressure the valves can leak. 
If you are trying to medicate with a direct feed system you would need a dosing device.  These devices mix medications with the water at a certain rate so that the correct dose is given.  At this time we do not have a dosing device for our direct feed watering systems.  We recommend that you would switch waterers  and use a waterer that you can regulate the amount of water mixed with your medications.

Hybrid System - Float Valve Gravity Fed System
If there is a way to combine the best of both worlds this is the way to go about doing it.  These systems also you to hook your garden hose directly to a float valve that then feeds your reservoir tank which will then distribute the water to your plumbing.  This will allow you to have confidence that your system is running when you are not around and also if you need to fill it manually you would just top off the bucket and then gravity would fill your plumbing just as it normally would.

The combination of a float valve and a gravity tank system also allows you to easily mix medication.  You would do this by shutting off your water supply and then proportionately mixing your medication just like you would in a gravity tank system.