Jun 19, 2012

Chicken Nipple Waterer DIY Instructions- Clean Water is Always a Tap Away

Make your own inexpensive poultry nipple waterer
With the addition of quail to my backyard poultry collection recently, I found that they are particularly messy and that keeping the water clean was a constant challenge. This challenge inspired me to make some poultry nipple waterers (PNW) for them. It's not always easy to ensure a clean supply of water to chickens (or other poultry) with traditional waterers, even if the supply is changed several times daily. Chickens foul the water with droppings, dirt and bedding, but with a few inexpensive items and the following DIY instructions, clean water is always just a tap away.

We know that access to clean, fresh water is vital to chickens' health as well as their egg production. Depriving chickens of water for even a few hours can halt egg production for weeks. Self-contained watering systems have been used by the commercial poultry industry for years to eliminate the problems inherent to traditional waterers. Chickens simply tap the end of the nipple to activate the release of water from the container directly into their mouths. PNW are inexpensive, simple to make and boast certain benefits over traditional waterers:
  • the water is always clean and cleaner water means less exposure to diseases like coccidiosis
  • can be kept inside the coop without spillage concerns (wet bedding creates an environment that fosters diseases)
  • occupy no floor space, freeing up valuable square footage
  • facilitate drinking in scissor-beaked chickens
The major limitation of homemade poultry nipple waterers is that they can freeze in cold temperatures, necessitating the addition of a heating device or the use of traditional waterers in the winter, which are easily kept liquid using a DIY cookie tin water heater.
traditional waterer sitting on top of a cookie tin water heater in cold temperatures
PNW can be made from a variety of containers from water bottles to 5 gallon buckets, PVC pipes to plastic juice bottles. Poultry nipples are available online from a wide variety of sources, very inexpensively. 

SUPPLIES & ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS
a plastic bottle, bucket or container (tops to buckets are optional)
5/16" drill bit for thin plastic such as water bottles or
11/32" bit for thick plastics such as 5 gallon buckets
silicone sealant (aquarium safe)
string, wire, etc. for hanging

STEP 1: Using a drill on low RPMs with a 5/6" bit, make a hole in the cap or bottom of the container
Drill hole in container for poultry nipple waterer
Recycled plastic container for making poultry nipple waterer
STEP 2: Apply silicone sealant around the hole. 
Silicone sealant is applied around the poultry nipple
Silicone sealant for poultry nipple waterer
STEP 3: Screw the poultry nipple into the hole.
Screw in poultry nipple into cap of bottle
Poultry nipple sealed with aquarium safe silicone sealant
Nipple Waterers can be made to accommodate many chickens at the same time.
The design is limited to your imagination!
5 gallon bucket poultry nipple waterer
5 gallon bucket with 4 nipples will serve 8-12 chickens.
 STEP 4: Install a hangar.
I drilled holes near the top of the PNW and threaded floral wire through both sides.
*Important note: Container must have a small hole drilled at the top of the container to allow air in, otherwise the unit will not work. The hangar holes shown below serve that purpose. 
A hole must be made in the container in order for the poultry nipple waterer to work properly.
The quail and baby Polish chicks adapted to the PNW immediately.
Quail adapted naturally to the poultry nipple waterer
Poultry nipple waterer hanging in their Chick Corral outside.
Polish chicks using their poultry nipple waterer
Polish chicks using their poultry nipple water bottle for the first time.
There is no training necessary when employing PNWs with young chicks, but there may be with older chickens who are accustomed to traditional waterers. Re-training should only be done in cooler temperatures as there is a learning curve involved.

PN training involves putting away all traditional waterers and showing the chickens how it works by tapping the PN with a finger. Their attention is drawn to the water droplet and as soon as one investigates and tests it, others follow. More training tricks for reluctant chickens, here.
disclaimer, The-Chicken-Chick.com
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

140 comments :

  1. Do you have a link any sites that sell the nipples themselves? No carries them locally here.

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    1. This is where I purchased them but if you Google "poultry nipple waterer" you will get lots of sources: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/622446/poultry-nipple-drinker-waterers-water-systems-for-duck-chicken-hens/0_20

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    2. This is such a good idea, 2 fold savings. Knowing your gals have nothing but fresh water and depending on method used, even knowing water consumption. The time savings will be important, cause the time you spend cleaning and refreshing their waters can be used to sit back and enjoy them. Love this idea and plan on implementing it asap.
      Ilean Roberts-Hardy
      hardyhens14@yahoo.com

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    3. I have a leaky 1 gallon waterer, I fill 4=6 times a day. This would be a great solution!

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  2. Yes, I must order some of these. I just haven't done it yet. Thanks.

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  3. My girls have plenty of water but it gets messy constantly! I will absolutely be trying this!

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  4. What a GREAT idea....seems it would make my life easier! Dawn

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  5. Oh, I could SO use these!

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  6. I like this idea. We have birds that like to sit on top of traditional waterers and get them "dirty" so I would try these for sure.
    Thanks!

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    1. We have all the its and parts and will try to make a pvc pipe waterer tomorrow. Will my ducks like this as well?

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    2. We have all the its and parts and will try to make a pvc pipe waterer tomorrow. Will my ducks like this as well?

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  7. These are so cool and i would love to win some. I want to make the pipe ones so that for our caged ones we can just have the pipe run down the cage and then they will all have water..
    my name is Jaime H. i just dont have any other account so i do anonymous

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  8. No more gunky waterers? What a concept! :)

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  9. Seriously thinking about making these for my silkies! Such a great idea!

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  10. Christine L.6/19/12, 8:17 PM

    This would be great to have! My adults aren't so bad but my 6 week olds are total mess makers! There is always dirt and poo and feed in the waterer. Thanks for a great site that's packed with useful information! Thanks for the giveaway too!

    (clayne317@gmail.com)

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  11. Shannon Schilling6/19/12, 8:19 PM

    I have been wanting to try these out...thanks for the great tutorial!

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  12. I'm a chicken virgin! Just buidling my first coop now. This would be a great addition to the supplies!!

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    1. Good for you! We all started somewhere; welcome to the club!

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  13. Oh I SOO need these! I'm assuming anyone that has used them has had no problems with the chickens figuring them out...anyone use them for ducks?

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  14. These would be perfect! I loved the blog post, and can't wait to start this project.

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    1. Thank you. Let me know how they work out for you!

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  15. Awesome idea!!! Would love to make a few of these for my girls!!!

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  16. I'd love to try these out! I see them being especially great for in the brooder. Those chicks get so much poop and shavings in their water!

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  17. I am sooooo diggin this idea.. my babies would love, love, love this!!

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  18. Really looking forward to trying these in my chicken tractor. Not taking up space and not having to lug them around when we move the tractor makes this a very attractive idea for me.
    Connie J.

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  19. What a great idea!

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  20. I so need to do this! Would look great in the remade hen house.

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  21. We have some and need more! We have also used the ones with a rubber gasket so you don't have to use the silicone. Like the idea of putting the wire 'through' the bottle for hanging, I just assumed the bottle would not be strong enough.

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  22. That is so smart. Thanks for showing how to put it together.

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  23. Would this work to have them come out of the side of the bucket? I've used gravity fed water nipples on rabbits before. The ones we used for them ran a line from the bucket and then the nipple fit at the end of the line (it was actually one line ran with t's to each nipple). Would these work as a side mount rather than a hanging bottom mount? Would the chickens still know to use them?

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    1. I'm not sure that they would work as a side-mount. My inclination is to say that they would not work properly but that's based on intuition, not physics. Send a private message to Mr. Peeps on BYC, he has a lot more experience than I do in PNWs and I'm sure he will know.

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  24. I have a tupperware container with a handle ready for these.

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  25. peggy wiggins6/19/12, 8:37 PM

    this is a really great idea!! it will make keeping my chicks clean water all the time!! love it!!!

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  26. Genius. Maybe I should consider for my boys and their Gatorade so they don't spill it all over the house?

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  27. Heidi's Happy Acre Farm6/19/12, 8:44 PM

    See now the only thing holding me back from doing this was finding and ordering the nipples - I can't wait to get one set up!

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  28. applied for blog.

    Chickens always need clean water and this is a great way to give it to them and keep us from cleaning waterers a few times a day.

    Thanks, Alex Summersell

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  29. This is such a good idea, Thanks

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  30. I can't wait to try this out! I've been looking for a solution to the old "poopin' in the waterer" trick! This looks so easy! Chel rlb118@hotmail.com

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  31. Makenna Vanegas6/19/12, 8:54 PM

    Great idea Kathy! I need to get myself some of these nipples! (snickers to herself...LOL)

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  32. Awesome idea! I'm Connie from above, finally got my google acct to work. Cant wait to try these ideas in my chicken tractor!

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  33. Awesome! Love both the nipple drinker and the DIY cookie tin water heater! We don't freeze often here in Eastern North Carolina but it will be handy when we do!
    Thanks!

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  34. These are just what I've been thinking about! So glad to see them in action and a source too! Thanks!

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  35. I would love these esp since I just got some chickys we use heated dog dishes in the winter for the chickens when my fiance brought them home I was a non-believer but seriously they work great for our sd winters

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. I have these for my rabbits, and they are great! Would love to try this for my chickens!

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  38. My chickens need a new waterer. Living in the heat and humidity of the south is tough on them. And what a great idea for a homemade version!

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  39. I'm definitely trying this out, especially on the chicks. They are SO MESSY! - Katie

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  40. So COOL!! That would be great to have with my rowdy (albeit messy) bunch!

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  41. These are so great! I have used these for the last year and love them. The water stays clean and last longer between filings. I am planning on expanding on my current setup.

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  42. Have used these for a year now, they do work great. The thread on the fits the pvc mister kit T's by lasco plumbing that my local ace hardware carried. These work great in conjunction with a 5 gallon bucket for the girls watering system in and outside the coop.

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  43. I SOOO need some of these..actually , I need ALOT of these...The girls are still hatching eggs...I just found another adorable Favorelle mix chick in the bantam "coop of horrors"...she has gone to a foster hen...
    Suzi Fire

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    1. Holy cow, Suzi. Your chickens never cease to amaze!

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  44. I am just getting started with these lively feathered friends. Using your blogs and FB pages help me so much!! I would LOVE th have these nipples (from contest or ordering), I luve in HOT AND DRY conditions, these may,be just what is needed. Thanks .for sharing, God Bless!

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  45. I so want to get some of these. They look like would help simplify chcken keeping!

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  46. I just got some of these last week to try out and I love them! I could sure use some more! The chickens water is clean and stays clean. Very nice!

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  47. Michelle Anders6/19/12, 11:49 PM

    Great idea for recycling plastic bottles! Would love to try them eith my Chicks.

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  48. I can't wait to order these and start using them! Such a time saver! Won't have to be scrubbing a poopy waterer everyday!

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  49. I cannot wait to start out our new chicks with these from the start :)

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  50. Thanks for the awesome tips! I look forward to trying this. Hope I can win.

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    1. put some linoleum (sp) flooring down. that will keep the wood from getting wet. And OH so much easier to take care of too. Just sweep it out, then either mop or power wash it out. lol
      I had this type of flooring in my coop I had at my other house so much easier to take care of. And I was cleaning it out only 2 times a year then. I nailed mine to the floor along the edges, and right down the middle thats all i needed but my coop was a big shed. 10 x 12 I think. stick tile will work too.

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  51. I really like this idea for inside the coop. The floor (bare wood) keeps getting soaked which is drawing bugs & mold. Yuck & unhealthy!

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  52. This is great! My chickens like to stand on top of the waterers and they get covered with mud and poo...so this would be GREAT!! Thanks Kathy!

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  53. Brilliant. I spend too much time cleaning waterers when raising up young pullets. They can make such a mess flipping dirt into the pan of the waterer. I'll need to track some of these down!

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    1. Deb, you can find them lots of places online. My blog has a link to "Mr. Peeps," on BackyardChickens. com, which is where I bought mine.

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  54. Julie Puckett6/20/12, 7:34 AM

    Fantastic idea. I spend most of my time changing and cleaning water !! kharramba@frontier.com

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  55. Thank you for the info! I need to do this for mine. I am soooo sick of changing out the water constantly because someone decided to dust right next to the water container!

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  56. i LOVE these i just bought a few to try them to see if they would work and man do i need some more!!! the ducks dont like it as much cause they cant make a mess...lol i would love to win some more! kbjabat@att.net

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  57. oh my goodness, no more yucky waterers!!!!!!! What a genius idea!! I can see where this would be fabulous for the quail especially!!!! Gotta get me some of these!!!
    Christa
    roseshadowranch@yahoo.com

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  58. I have an idea for a self filling waterer. It consists of a PVC tube with attached PWNs with a hose to a 5-gallon bucket. To fill the bucket you have a gutter alongside the coop filling it with rain water and a garden hose with an automatic float valve for when it gets too low. I just need to get the supplies...:)

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    1. Sounds great, I'd love to see your design when you've got it finished!

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  59. I have 85 hens plus sever roosters and fill and carry 5 waterers a day that are 5 gallons each!! Whew... and during the summer months, refilling and refilling and refilling!!

    The chicken waterer nipples would be so useful, as I plan I using your easy instructions to make a chicken nipple waterer. This will save my back from lugging around water all the time...and it will be safer for my birds, cutting back on droppings and feed that seem to always fall in the water trays!! Thanks Chicken Chick for keeping us informed.

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  60. Hey! Can't wait to receive your blog! I would really like to try these! Anything that makes my life easier is a blessing!!

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  61. I just finished installing my nipplewaterer. I will post pictures shortly!

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  62. What an awesome idea... really need to get these,, would make life so much easier for us all.... thanks for sharing

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  63. I really need to do this. My ducks that are in my chicken area make their water so dirty! Great idea for giving the chickens always fresh water!

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  64. Great idea!! We use 5 gallon buckets with lids but this will work great for smaller pens and brooders.

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  65. This has been on my to do list

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  66. Anything to keep the chicken pen dryer is great. Planning on getting chickens this fall, too hot here in the desert now. Was thinking about a different watering method then the usual fill container and turn over which is always messy. Thanks for the great idea and wonderful instructions!

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  67. Oh this is so cool. I have been envious of these systems. I would love to check this off my to do list!

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  68. I love these!!! We've only had our chickens for about 3 months now and we live in the Houston, Tx area. Needless to say it is HOT around here ALL day! These would be SO much easier than having to refill containers 5+ times a day! And I love the idea of using PVC pipe and attaching it to the run w/ a bucket.

    Love your blog!!

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    1. That's a lot of work in Texas heat. I hope you're able to implement these to make your life a lot easier.

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  69. I've heard of these. Do you know how adult chickens adapt? I'll give it a try, win or lose the drawing. ourlittlemeadow ;)

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    1. Itt does require some training when they are accustomed to traditional waterers, Mike. All other waterers have to be removed and then tap on the pin until one of them comes over to investigate the shiny drop of water on the end of it. Once one of them catches on, they teach each other.

      I don't recommend the training in the heat of summer though when water demands are at their highest. It's too stressful for everyone.

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  70. Anything to keeps poultry watered and keeps them from dirtying that water is a good thing.

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  71. Can I get these in France???? We have 3 hens & this would be a good idea for their run.

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    1. MimiAnn: I would imagine "Mr. Peeps" on BackyardChickens. com would probably ship them to you in France. His link is in my post above.
      If not, there are lots of online sources for them.

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  72. Julie Puckett kharramba@frontier.com6/25/12, 5:14 PM

    Awesome giveaway, but sort of weird, I just told my husband I signed up to win 5 nipples. hahahaha

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    1. LOL, even weirder is going to be that you have to tell him that you just WON five nipples! LOL

      Congratulations Julie! I'll email you for your address.

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  73. Thank you so much -- I had seen these but didn't quite understand how they work -- but this well-written step-by-step information is great -- I'm happy to subscribe!!

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  74. We have nearly 70 chickens and this would be an awesome win. thanks so much for offering these to win on your blog.

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  75. I am new to raising baby chicks, and the waterer I got at the feed store is constantly getting dirty. Thanks so much for this post!

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  76. Thankyou for sharing! I have quail who have hit 3 weeks old and I will set up one of these for them. I had seen them sold before but had thought they needed to be set up on a pvc pipe system - now I know they don't!

    I had a thought on the silicone, wouldn't it be best to use the Fish Tank Grade Silicone, because it is fully safe for animals then. I know normal silicone cannot be used in fish tanks because it leaches chemicals which will kill fish, and I would be worried it would be carrying into the chickens/quail too, even if not in amounts enough to kill them, it can't be good for them or you eating eggs/meat.

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    1. That's an interesting point. I haven't considered that but will look into it. Thanks!

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  77. Sounds fun to try this fall !!!

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  78. Very cool idea! Does it provide enough water for a larger group of chickens in the hot weather?

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    1. Alana, you can certainly make as many as you need to accommodate as many chickens as you have. The manufacturer recommends one nipple per 2-3 birds.

      I would wait until the weather is cool where you live to begin training them with the PNWs. There is a learning curve and the heat of summer is not the time for that.

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  79. Esther Widgren6/26/12, 11:44 PM

    Waiting for my order to come in! Can't wait!

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  80. I am (impatiently) waiting for my order of PNW's to get here. I have the PVC and the water ;)
    Thanks for the instructions! And for the push. I have been putting it off.

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  81. I have tried that link and it prompts me to send a private message to go to the next step. Then it says there is a problem so I cannot get to the ordering part. What am I doing wrong? :( We have made the feeder and I want some waters too.

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    1. I wonder if you have to be a member of BackyardChickens. com to see that link? Not sure.
      Visit Mr Peeps on his Facebook page and he can take care of you there:


      https://www.facebook.com/MrMrsPeepsPoultrySupplies

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  82. This is so cool! We have one, but it's like a bowl!! Great idea!!

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  83. This is a wonderful site thank you so much for all the information you share. I am in the process of making the cookie tin water heaters.. I am so happy to of found the idea. I do have a question... Im wondering if you would mind sharing what the fence is made of that is pictured above with the chicks? Its yellow and white? I am looking for ideas for an exercise pen for my chicks this spring. Thank You!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad to know you're making the cookie tin water heaters!

      The 'fence' you are referring to is a corrugated plastic enclosure called the Chick Corral. It is available through the Randall Burkey Company online for approximately $20.

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  84. I would really like to make the PVC pipe waterer, how is it attached to the 5 gallon bucket?

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  85. I have a 5-gallon bucket with an automatic fill set up in our coop already, but I didn't think about one for a brooder. I'll be making one this year for our chicks that will arrive in July. Thanks for the great idea!

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  86. Great idea.  How often does the PNW need to be cleaned?

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  87. Would you recommend this type of waterer for chicks starting day 1, or would it be best to start with a traditional chick fount and then switch them to a PNW when they are a little older? If later, at what age? I love having your blog to prepare for chickens BEFORE getting them! You are a wealth of info!

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  88. TheChickenChick4/7/13, 11:45 PM

    I HIGHLY recommend using poultry nipple waterers from day one! The Chicken Fountain company also carries a product called the Brooder Bottle Cap, which is what you want to start with.

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  89. Thank you! I'm so glad I found your blog to learn from others' experience!

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  90. For your gravity fed pvc nipple waterer, what did you use to/how did you connect the pvc to the 5 gal bucket? Also, what do you do in the winter when the pvc would inevitably freeze up (I live in the greater Seattle area, so we don't have much freeze-time, but any freeze time, means frozen water)!

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  91. TheChickenChick4/18/13, 8:42 PM

    I did not connect the bucket to a PVC pipe. I now use The Chicken Fountain, which is a pre-assembled unit you can read about here that has a heater system that kept it thawed this winter. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/the-advantages-of-poultry-nipples.html

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  92. I ordered some of them off Amazon. I got 5 of them for around $8 and I liked them: http://www.amazon.com/Chicken-Waterer-Poultry-Feeders-Watering/dp/B00CWH7QA6/

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  93. Sarah Brainard7/12/13, 1:32 PM

    Nice!!! I have the bucket with nipples, they loved it at first but in the hot water were giving them bowls with frozed bottles of water.. made them a little lazy!


    Will try to FREEZE a bottle of water and use the nipples! GREAT ideas!

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  94. Patricia Stowe8/9/13, 9:56 PM

    I'm curious how the nipple waterers work...is it the same concept as something like a hamster or guinea pig water bottle? At the moment I have two guinea pig water bottles hanging in my run (they're a quart each) and the chickens seems to use them just fine and actually prefer them over the waterer in the coop but I'm wondering if the nipple waterers would be better...if they would get more water from them or would it be just about the same?

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  95. TheChickenChick8/9/13, 11:17 PM

    I can't answer that, Patricia. I haven't researched the difference between the two.

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  96. Stephanie Wilde2/15/14, 6:38 PM

    I bought a box of these off ebay and made a couple of waterers out of 5 gallon buckets. Luckily I have outlets in my coop and in the winter I heat the water with submersible bird bath heaters and my hens never have frozen or dirty water! These work great! I would highly recommend them!

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  97. Susan Colegrove3/14/14, 4:40 PM

    Everything is thawing today, including the snow on the roof of my coop. I discovered that there was a leak in the roof. The pine shaving litter was wet. I was using a metal rake to clean it out and found myself getting shocked! electrocuted! I use a cookie tin heater to keep the waterer from freezing. It was apparently shorting out or something. I unplugged it. I will take it apart and find out what happened the ground wire.

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  98. I am not sure I would use that Silicon glue; plumbers tape might be safer and I think there is a liquid plumbers tape as well. Can you spot the differences: https://www.facebook.com/FreeItem/photos/a.182858641890869.1073741826.181302355379831/270578179785581/?type=1&theater

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  99. Kathy Zimmerman3/14/14, 8:47 PM

    Thanks for this info, cause I need to change to something different, and was thinking of these but wasn't sure. Now the only thing to do is order some today! Thank you so much for all the information that you provide for us.

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  100. Vicki Kenny3/29/14, 2:56 AM

    I got the brite ta chicken waterer because I only have two hens, and they are free range. They've both nibbled the nipple once or twice but were still drinking from the water trays, it's been two days so we're taking the lunge and removing the water trays tomorrow. Fingers crossed!!!!

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  101. Vicki Kenny3/29/14, 2:56 AM

    Ps does anyone have a photo of how you attach the rubber band for training?

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  102. TheChickenChick3/30/14, 6:53 PM

    I've never had to resort to that, so I don't have one to show you. Contact Frank on The Chicken Fountain page on Facebook and I'm sure he can help you with that.

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  103. Christine Irwin4/17/14, 8:18 PM

    I made one of these for my chicks in the brooder. They caught on within a couple of hours and then it was like it was entertainment for them! There was a drinking frenzy going on. But I notice that they're sloppy drinkers and there is water all over that end of the pine bedding at that end of the brooder. I have them in an old 30 gallon fish tank that has worked pretty well until now. I change the bedding regularly but I'm concerned about all the moisture. Any suggestions?

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  104. Getting ready to fix a smaller bucket with nipples for my 9 week old EE;s, but at what age can I use the regular nipples with my new chicks...they are 3 weeks right now. I'm going to save one of the nipples to use for them but would like to know...

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  105. I made and installed the pnw in my brooder box. Definitely keeps water cleaner than the chick waterer. However, the bedding under the pnw is now always soaked. I just keep dumping in more pine shavings but do you have a better solution for this. I don't think the pnw is leaking. I think the chicks are just making a huge mess with it. I watch them spray it all around!

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  106. I recommend keeping waterers outside the coop, not in it.

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  107. Glenn Mellingen5/16/14, 11:16 PM

    I have a nipple water in my brooder right now made from a soda bottle. I was wondering if it was okay that I completely cut off the bottom of the bottle? It is fixed to the wall of the brooder, so I pour in water to refill. I see you suggesting to poke a small hole at the top, but I just wanted to know if the way I have it is fine too.

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  108. We did the Gatorade PNW and I thought it would take awhile of my 3 month old girls to use it , but I went in and say with them and I kept making telling them about how it was fresh cool water and they are right away and it works !! They now do it all by themselfs !!! I'm so proud of them !!! Thank you sooo much for the info !!!!

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  109. masloozinit769/8/14, 2:12 AM

    I have been using these nipples since I got my chickens, they love it... and so do I! No dirty water bowls! I started out with the pitchers and now use the 5 gallon bucket. I can't see using anything else!

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  110. I only started using these a few weeks ago, but now my chickens actually prefer drinking from these rather than their water bowl. Thanks!

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