Lesson 1017 – Chicken nipples (again)

In a recent Chicken workshop I held for our Adult Education Series, I was asked about using chicken nipples as a way to supply water to the flock.

We have used them. At first chicken nipples seemed like such a good idea – no waste of water and you get to fill the water from the top of a bucket. Not only that but, initially our coop floor was dry around the water, a problem that we always had trouble with – and a dry floor certainly cuts down on fowl foot problems.

But after time, the nipples turned out to be a bit of a pain.

We had our nipples secured to the bottom of a hanging bucket which was perfect for the adult birds – not so for our bantams and our chicks. For those guys we had to keep a constant supply of fresh water near ground level. Twice the work for our water needs.

And then there was the dirt in the nipples. Chickens scratch in the dirt all the time. This means that there can be debris on their beaks as they peck at the nipples. We’ve found a few nipples clogged with sand and dirt (it only takes a few grains) from either the beaks or mud splatter, which then let water constantly drip under the bucket.

Kind of defeated the entire purpose.

And let’s talk about winter. Frozen water is water that cannot be used by the flock. In order for nipples to work in the winter, we’d have to heat both the water and the nipples (which usually have a metal component that adds to the water’s freezing.) Compare this to putting our metal waterer on a heater base which solves the problem for us very nicely.

We’ve tried chicken nipples and we’re just not big fans of them.

Having said, that though, I know of many who use them and who think they are the best thing since sliced bread.

What’s been your experience? Love em? Hate them? Is water in a galvanized bucket good enough for your flock?


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

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Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicks, Holidays, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotable Chicks, The Family

4 responses to “Lesson 1017 – Chicken nipples (again)

  1. Denis Superczynski

    In theory, the nipples seem to solve some of the logistical problems involved in providing fresh water to my hens but I never pursued the option due to the need to keep the fluid from freezing and the relative ease with which the nipples themselves would freeze. I’ve seen my hens peck through thin ice to get water water but I doubt their ability to be successful in defrosting a nipple. If I ever try an alternative to the classic waterer, it will likely involve one of the PVC systems that can be filled from a convenient location outside of our small coop.

  2. We have a nipple waterer inside the coop. My hubby made it out of pvc pipe, 6 nipples and a toilet tank fill valve hooked up to a water line, so it self-fills as the chickens drink. It doesn’t freeze, since it is inside and we live on the mild west coast (-15 C is the lowest). It has never been clogged up. (There are pictures of it in my post titled ‘Amenities of the Coop’)
    But it is difficult to find the right height for the chickens. I believe that ideally they should be stretching up to reach the nipples, but our taller birds kind of crouch beside it to use it and it seems like they don’t get much water that way. As a result, we have milk jugs of water all around the property for them to use and the birds prefer to use those.
    The other difficulty is cleaning the waterer which is required maintenance due to our sometimes gungy well-water. If water sits stagnant for a week or two, an algae slime forms. Our waterer is bolted to the wall and the pvc pipe is long so I have to use a long bottle scrubber to clean it – a bit of a headache.
    Thanks for the post!

  3. We use this system; http://chickenfountain.com/chicken-fountain-waterer/ love it and would never use anything else. Also their The Brooder Bottle Cap™ is ideal for the baby chicks and it teaches them early on and you don’t get the mess!

  4. Pingback: 3 gal. Miller Manufacturing Plastic Poultry Fountain – A Review | amy elizabeth's Country Homestead

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