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summer/winter chicken nipple waterer

  1. Chicken Techie
    I guess the best way to do this is to list all the features then explain how it works and how to build it.

    So here is my winter friendly chicken nipple waterer. it utilizes a 13 gallon family size cooler, a heater, a circulation pump, drain, and insulation.
    incase you didn't know the benefits of chicken nipples, the chickens get cleaner water than a from a bowl, it has much higher capacity than a bowl which results in less maintenance. and with this design should use less power than an uninsulated open bowl water heater.

    this is my storage tank, its a 52 quart (13 gallon) family size cooler. why did i go so big, well i needed a cooler with a drain built in, this saves alot of work when building and raises reliability. off the drain is a supply hose that leads to the pvc that the nipples are on, i used foam pipe insulation to wrap the pipe for winter then duct taped over it all to keep chickens from pecking at the foam and it is another layer of insulation. inside this feed pipe is a smaller pipe that goes all the way to the end of the pvc just before the drain.


    the small pipe inside attaches to the small aquarium pump shown and pumps water down the small tube to the end of the line in the pvc pipe and returns on the outside of the small pipe and inside of the larger pipe back to the cooler.

    during winter as the tiny pump runs i will put this bird bath water heater inside the cooler, its safe to operate directly against plastics and it is thermostatically controlled and only uses 50 watts! between the foam insulation of the pipes and the cooler, freezing shouldn't be a problem.

    since chickens can't catch every drop they get out of the nipples i have a catch tray under the nipples, its a goat feeding trough from tractor supply, works well. at the very end there is a valve and a drain i adapted so a garden hose can be attached easily. i drain it every week or so just to freshen the water.

    So now for the details:
    click the image above to enlarge

    thats how it works, now the nitty gritty on materials and costs.

    cooler is from target, $21
    heater $30 from amazon:

    pump $6 from harbor freight store
    chicken nipples from amazon $14.25, they came with installation instructions:

    3/4" pvc pipe, valve, and fittings about $10-$12 from home depot
    3/4" clear plastic tubing about $10 from home depot, had to but a roll, could have got shorter piece from local ace hardware but didn't know til after
    foam insulation 1 1/2" diameter i believe, under $2 and I had the duct tape
    5/16" clear plastic hose (may vary depending on pump u get) $4 or $5
    goat feeding tray used as excess water catch to keep floor dry $15 at tractor supply
    cooking spray for lubricant, probably a couple bucks a can, i had some in the kitchen
    pvc cleaner and glue, less than $10, i already had them

    wish i had a written instructions but i designed this in my head and didn't write anything down, sorry. thats why i made the diagram in paint.

    To build this amazing waterer:

    1. build the pvc section first, but don't attach nipples to pvc yet. i believe in my pvc section the nipples are on a 24" long piece, drill the 5 holes in a straight line, then use pvc solvent and attach valve and if you so desire an adaptor to drain down a hose if needed in your application.
    2. cut one end of the smaller tubing at an angle, (this helps you feed it down the bigger tube and to not dead head the pump against the valve when built)
    3. spray the smaller tube with cooking spray to lubricate (safe for us, so safe for chickens) and feed it inside the larger tubing, the amount fed is determined by the length of pvc you use and the distance between the cooler and the pvc. you can use more than 5 nipples if needed.
    4. feed enough excess of the small tubing inside the cooler to attach to the pump easily.
    5. attach large tubing to cooler drain and pvc adaptor with hose clamps, then install nipples
    6. make sure valve is closed then fill with water to check for leaks.
    7. wrap piping and pvc from cooler drain all the way down to the valve with foam pipe insulation and wrap in duct tape to prevent chickens from pecking at foam, also blocks cold air from directly touching piping.
    8. mount cooler above pvc pipe height.
    9. attach pump and run for a few minutes to clean pipes then open drain valve and drain/fill a few times to rinse out everything.
    10. fill and add preferred additive to keep water clean. I use 20 drops of 2% lugols iodine with 13 gallons of water, good for humans and chickens.
    11. enjoy very little maintenance of your watering system and healthy chickens.

    I hope this is useful to people, its really not hard to build and the iodine keeps the water very clean. with everything being insulated including the cooler the heater will not have to work as much and save electricity. also during summer you can add blocks of ice to the cooler to chill the water for your feathered friends. if anyone has any questions please don't hesitate to ask, thanks

    >>>>>>> CURRENT VERSION ****************************************************HUGE UPDATE********************************************************************************** Thanks big time to "Rick26" who made far better pictures than i made and here they are below. I did not change the pictures at all but he said to feel free to change or comment on them. They are excellent pictures as you will see: [​IMG] This is a different way to make my waterer and im sure works just fine. Also you can leave all the components in the cooler year round if desired. Remember cooking spray makes a great lubricant for the plastic tubing to go through the pvc. [​IMG] I purchased my cooler at Target because it is a 13 gallon cooler that already has the drain and i find it much easier if it is pre-installed. The thermocube isn't 100% necessary because the bird bath water heater is thermostatically controlled and i prefer to keep the water moving year round to prevent stale water by keeping the pump on. The pump is very power efficient. [​IMG] Great [​IMG] I have taught babies 2 days old to roosters over a year old and they all pick it up quickly, ducks included. Again thanks so much to Rick26 for making these pictures for me to post on this write up. I really appreciate his effort. *****PLEASE READ: 2 THINGS, 1. PLEASE READ ALL THE COMMENTS BELOW, I HAVE GOT A LOT OF THE SAME QUESTIONS AND THIS WILL SAVE YOU TIME. 2. I HAVE RECEIVED A LOT OF PERSONAL MESSAGES ABOUT THIS WATER-ER. THE DOWNSIDE TO THIS IS THAT OTHER PEOPLE DON'T BENEFIT FROM YOUR QUESTIONS OR MY ANSWERS. PLEASE ASK THE QUESTIONS HERE AND NOT ON PERSONAL MESSAGES. ITS BEST FOR EVERYONE*****

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  1. vickivail98
  2. Chicken Techie
    I didn't realize there were these last few comments on here that i hadn't responded to, so here it goes.
    DaveOmak Thanks, I'm lazy when it comes to maintenance, in which i mean i don't want to spend all my time cleaning up or feeding the animals, so i spent the time to design this and its worth it by far. I have since made versions for my goats and making one now for my rabbits. I like your spin on the concept too.

    Eselick I did actually cover the outer pipe with insulation and the reason it is acceptable is that it only happens no more than 3 days a year, I can live with that and when it happens we break out the 1 gallon waterers and problem solved. To cover the pipe in another pipe then hook up a hot air blower just isn't cost effective electricly. The nipples themselves are metal and metal will freeze easily so without making the nipples inaccessible to the chickens you can't freeze proof them perfectly unfortunately. The time they stay frozen depends on the temperature, I have found that they will work as long as its above 10 degrees F in the coop.

    Aart just be carefull that you don't use nipples with the cups, you want a self draining nipple.

    Thanks everyone else for the nice comments, knowing I helped you guys make the time to write it all up worth it..
  3. CandaceID
    I really appreciate @Chicken Techie giving update on results through the first winter using that set-up.
  4. DaveOmak
  5. DaveOmak
  6. aart
    Nice design!
    Dave Omaks build thread got me to this article.
    I like the lack of an exposed return pipe. Have been planning to build one of these for this coming winter but plan on using Horizontal Nipples.....they might work better than the Vertical ones as the seal is inside the vessel, but there may be an interference with an internal supply hose and they can hold a tiny bit of water on the outside if not oriented correctly. We shall see.

    Wonder if you can subscribe to the comments section of articles?
  7. Family Farming
  8. smoknz28
    Oooh, I'm interested in this. ;-)
  9. eselick
    Sorry about the questions I asked in the previous post about "acceptable" - I just saw the comment about the nipples unfreezing the same day they froze up. That would not be the case here. We had quite a few stretches where the temperature stayed very low for a few days at a time. So I need to figure out a way to keep them from freezing up.
  10. eselick
    Hi Techie
    I live in Canada just across the Vermont border, pretty cold this winter. I've read (I hope carefully) the comments and understand that with your design the nipples will freeze when it gets really cold. What I really don't understand is why this is "acceptable". How long do they stay frozen? Do you use an alternative watering systeme when this happens?

    What about adding some 1 1/2" PVC outer pipping around the nipple and inner pipe and blowing hot air through it. The out pipe would have a 1/2" (more or less) section cut out along the length to allow the chickens to still access the nipple. Just thnking out loud... I'm not sure what would supply the hot air or if, indeed it would work, but it might :)

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