Building your automatic watering system
Also the images listed are borrowed from the Klubertanz catalog, where I purchased all of my parts and will be using their stock #'s as references so it will be easier for you to purchase the correct items. Their website is http://www.klubertanz.com
I won't post prices because they do change often. Starting from the beginning I would expect for 10 rabbits or so you may spend about $75-90 to get going, but this is a huge time saver. Once you get your main parts, adding lines is pretty cheap.
The watering systems also give peace of mind in the summer, the rabbits will never be without water. I have only ever seen one rabbit out of about 200 that could not learn to drink out of the system. A good way to get them going is to push your finger on the valve, letting the water drip out, and put their face at it. They will figure it out. If your rabbit stops eating and gets thin, it may not have figured it out, and you should show them. But honestly even rabbits that I purchase who have always used crocks or bottles before, pick up on the watering system almost immediately. Rabbits are curious creatures and figure things out for themselves.
In the winter, depending on your location you may experience frozen lines. Klubertanz does offer parts to make a PVC water line, where you can add heat cables. I didn't build this one because I rarely experience frozen lines in the south. I have an enclosed barn (that is NOT insulated) and my lines only freeze completely if we go below 25 degrees for more then 3-4 hours. I usually experience about a week or two out of the year where I have frozen lines. Last summer (2008-2009) I don't think we had any frozen lines at all. Heat cables can only be used with a PVC system. Since I have never built one I cannot offer assistance or instructions for it.
In the small time where my lines are frozen I use crocks. If they freeze overnight I refresh them in the morning with warm water, which melts them quicker. Sometimes if I know it's going to warm up by noon, I run warm water over the tubing and it helps to thaw things quickly. Since my heavy duty water hose is black, it collects the heat from the sun and stays thaw even in the coldest of winters, so I usually only have frozen flex tubing. You could also purchase pipe insulation to put around the flex tubing, just be careful it isn't near the rabbits to chew on it.
This is the buying guide and instructions for building an autotmatic watering system from the Edstrom line using the smallest flex tube 3/16".
My water hose usually needs to be replaced once a year. I purchase a heavy duty use hose from Lowes. Eventually after the heat and sun has bleached it, it will crack and leak but I get about a years worth of use out of them. I only have my outdoor water hose on just barely more then a trickle. Only on just enough to hear the hiss and whine of water flowing. Anything over this will cause too much pressure even for the regulator.
I will post a diagram for a built watering system shortly.