Filling your freezer with homegrown pork is one of the most gratifying experiences when it comes to homesteading. The initial cost of equipment when getting into pig farming, however, can get expensive and may limit your ability to add them to your homestead. So why not learn how to make a pig waterer of your own to save some money?
Pigs are one of the easiest types of livestock to raise in my opinion. They don’t have the dietary complications and strict mineral ratios that other livestock such as ruminants have. When feeding a pig, if you’re providing a well-balanced diet, there isn’t much to worry about that could result in a vet call. And although they aren’t the garbage disposals people make them out to be, the list is relatively short on what not to feed. Pigs are hardy enough to withstand and even farrow in cold winter temperatures without supplemental heat or a completely closed shelter. The one caveat, however, is they are unable to sweat to cool themselves off. So, in the heat of the summer, they are always on the hunt for a water source to wallow in to regulate their body temperature, even if it means they have to make it themselves. Anything that’s easy to tip or flip over, they will, even when given an additional water source for this purpose. This means constant refilling and dirty water.
Depending on how you house your hogs, there are a variety of different waterer options available. Large heavy stock tanks and automatic pump waterers work well when there are permanent housing and water lines. If they aren’t going to be moved, you can lag them to a foundation to keep them from being tipped or use a tank heavy enough that they can’t tip it. You will still have to dump and refill the water regularly as they soil it with their dirty noses and insects lay their eggs in the stagnant water. Because my pigs are rotated and they aren’t kept in one spot, this type of design isn’t ideal. I need a waterer that’s easy to set up, fill, take down, and move several times throughout the course of the summer the pigs rotate through our paddocks. With a rotational grazing set up without permanent water lines in place, a gravity fed waterer is the logical solution.
- Threaded (3/4″) pig nipple drinker
- (2) 4″ x 5′ PVC pipe
- 4″ x 2′ PVC pipe
- (2) 90-degree elbows PVC
- (2) PVC threaded couplers
- (2) PVC threaded caps
- Plumbers putty
- PVC cement
Using a steel rasp file to remove rough edges from all ends of the two five-foot and one two- foot section of PVC pipe.
Using a three-quarter-inch spade drill, drill a hole in the center of the four-inch by the two-foot section of PVC pipe. Screw the threaded pig nipple drinker in about halfway, then add plumbers putty around the exterior of the hole while continuing to screw in the nipple drinker until it’s seated into the pipe. Apply putty on the inside of the pipe around the nipple drinker to ensure it’s leak free.
Take a large square and mark a center line on each end of the two-foot section of PVC. This will give a guide to line the 90-degree elbow up with keeping the longer sections of pipe square.
Working quickly and one at a time, add PVC cement to the inside of one side of the 90-degree elbow and slide on one end of the two-foot PVC pipe, lining the seam of the elbow up with your mark made with the square. Use a mallet to quickly pound the elbow onto the pipe for a tight fit. Repeat the same procedure with the other elbow, putting it on the other end of the two- foot section of pipe.
Apply PVC cement to the open side of each 90-degree elbow and fit into the five-foot sections.
Quickly flip it over to make an upside down “u” and use a mallet to pound on each 90-degree angle ensuring a tight fit.
Flip the waterer back over and add cement to each threaded coupler, fit onto the open end of the five-foot section and use a mallet to pound the pieces together. Screw on threaded ends, and allow the cement to dry before adding any water to prevent potential leaks.
Because this waterer is so lightweight, it makes set up a breeze. We raised it up on concrete blocks so the nipple was at our pig’s eye level and placed it against the side of the fence that is permanent panels close enough for the garden hose to reach. We zip tied the waterer in various places to the fence panel for support and to keep it upright.
Because it is gravity fed, this waterer can be easily adapted for different sized PVC pipe you have lying around or readily available. You can use a long horizontal run to accommodate multiple nipples, as well as a single pipe set up rather than double. Originally, I planned on making it with either a single six or eight-inch diameter PVC to give me a higher volume of water it could hold. But, it wasn’t readily available locally, so I opted to use the four-inch PVC I already had and used two pipes to increase the volume.
This waterer holds almost eight gallons of water which is more than enough for our gilt to drink even on a hot summer day. I top it off each morning easily with a garden hose and don’t have to dump dirty water anymore that she soils with her nose or from trying to climb in or tip her trough style waterer she had before.
Many feeders, waterers, and housing options can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost, and learning how to make a pig waterer is a great place to start to save money on your upfront investment. Do you raise pigs and have some good homemade equipment that you use?