For some reason, hens love to perch upon the fonts, and with perching comes the inevitable poop. Ick. They start as soon as they can fly and their skills improve with age, thus the founts need very frequent refreshing, and regular scrubbing out with a brush to keep them clean. When one of our founts developed a leak, we decided to look for alternatives.
Noodling about the interwebs, I saw the idea for a nipple valve fount using a five gallon bucket online. We will make one, but with winter and freezing temps on the horizon, we needed a heated solution so I opted for a heated bucket. I looked at several options and finally selected a flat-backed livestock bucket made by Allied Precision. It is supposed to be safe from cracking due to cold temps, and I liked the way the heating element was hidden in a false bottom that secured over the bucket with screws. It also seemed to have a sturdy handle and a divot on the handle for hanging from a hook. I ordered the nipple valves from Amazon. We got 5 valves and used 2; we are saving the remaining three for a non-heated fount for next summer.
Dan made the fount in an hour or so last weekend. He removed the false bottom and with the jigsaw, carefully cut away a section of the bottom to allow access to the nipples. He then drilled two holes in the bucket, installed the valves, put the false bottom back on the bucket and called it good.
So far no leaks, but it will be easy enough to add some silicone caulk should leaks develop. It took the girls a couple of hours to figure it out. We sped up the process by sticking a piece of straw into the valve causing it to drip. A few of the girls thought it was a shower, but eventually they figured it out.
To keep the water clean, I added the cover to the cheap turkey fryer pot that came with the big propane burner I use for lobster cooking. It fits almost as though it were made for the bucket.
I love it, it stays much cleaner, and it easy to swish out when it does need cleaning. We’ll hang it in the coop during the winter months and will be able to get rid of the old heater, giving the girls that much more floor space. Total cost was a bit less than a new galvanized fount.