Long story short, my chicks in the brooder are making a huge mess, emptying their water bottle daily (most of it all over the floor), and just generally making themselves smelly. I mean, chicks are messy xD I'm a little worried about all the food and poo that's mixed into their water by the time I get home, so, for those of you who have had success, how did you transition your little chickies from a regular waterer to nipple waterers? Were there any chicks who just didn't get it? How long did you leave the first waterer in there before you were satisfied they were using the new system? I also have ducklings who will soon be brooding (two hatched already!) I would like to transition them as well. Has anyone had luck with ducks on a nipple waterer? I know most ducks use the water to clean out their beaks, so is a nipple waterer enough for them, or do they really need a traditional waterer?
Trasitioning Chicks and Quail to Nipples Instead of Traditional Waterers
There's a problem with your waterer if it just drains out daily. Mine are conventional types, raised up as the chicks grow, so they stay less messy. Rinsed and refilled daily, but they don't actually leak at all. I have no experience with the nipple systems, never felt the need to make that switch. Mary
I went to a 5 gallon bucket and nipple waterers because of the same reasons you stated. Before I switched, it was a constant mess, and once the chicks were 5 or 6 weeks old they would end up knocking the water over after it had been drained down enough. I took every chicken and held it's head and hit it's beak on the nipple to make water come out. Most of them took to it immediately. The others continued using the traditional waterer for 2 or 3 days. It appeared they would not switch, so I took the old ones out and watched. They all took to the nipple waterer easily then. They will learn quickly if you have atleast 1 pecking at the nipple. They are very curious, so the shiny metal and the red plastic makes them want to peck at it.
IMHO, horizontal nipples are the ONLY way to go!
Like Jmay wrote, show them how to use to nipple and let them figure it out on their own. Sometimes the smaller ones squawk and make a fuss, but they will understand when their coopmate is getting water and they're not.
***Remove all sources of other water!*** I cannot stress this enough. If you're worried about them, just watch them interact at the nipples and make sure at least one gets it. If one understands, the others will figure it out!
Anyone that is big enough to move the nipple, gets moved outside and put on auto waterers/feeders. Usually 3 weeks, sooner if it's warmer outside. Never lost anyone yet!