feeling watering overwhelmed


In the Brooder
May 10, 2015
Parkdale, OR
I am feeling slightly overwhelmed with the options. In my brooder the chicks are messy like everyone elses are. I am looking at options for the coop. I see hanging watering systems, vertical nipples, horizontal nipples, cup nipples....TOO MANY OPTIONS for this mommy of 4 kids (10, 6, 2, and 2 months), 2 dogs, and 8 chicks.
Having started with messy, open waterers for my flock, then moving to vertical nipples, I quickly saw the benefits of horizontal. The verticals were GREAT for keeping water clean but they had TWO major drawbacks that were non-starters for me: 1) they dripped...EVER so slowly but consistently when not in use. I despise wet bedding...an overabundance of moisture is what fuels just about EVERYthing micro and macro that can kill a chicken. 2) Even with a water heater in my bucket, the vertical nipples would often freeze. Not good for thirsty chooks.

The horizontal nipples solve both problems. They do NOT drip that slow, steady soaking nastiness that verticals do when not in use. They also do NOT freeze as easily by virtue of how they are designed. The heater in my 5-gallon bucket was more than enough to keep all 8 nipples clear through this last cold winter.

I would not go back to open waterers if I was paid to. The mess, the stagnation and the waterborne critters that love open, still water are all enough for me to swear it off. My closed horizontal nipple system (a cheap 5 gallon bucket with 8 nipples in it) means I only have to refill every 5 days, never need to clean filth out (poop, bedding, food, etc) and don't need to worry about it making a wet soppy mess of my bedding.

The ONLY time I will allow an open water source is on the stupid-hot, humid days where I want to ensure the chooks stay hydrated. I will often drop a few drops of NutriDrench or some sort of electrolyte in a bowl of water with some ice cubes for them somewhere in the pasture so they don't have to go back to the coop to drink. They ALWAYS act like they are dying of thirst when I do it as they make a big fuss (they think it's a treat!) and drain the water quickly. It's a good way to get them any waterborne meds/suppliments/vitamins/wormers as they go whole-hog on the occasional bowl of water.

I got my horizontal nipples off of ebay. There appear to be at least two reputable sellers...195319531 and allboutchickens. I got mine from the former. Nipple systems can be as complex or simple as folks want/need. I opted for simple and it doesn't get much more simple than a $2 5-gallon bucket (and a drill-bit) resting on top of some cinder blocks so I could adjust the height as the chooks grew.
I tried the nipples, but the hens never seemed to get enough water. As soon as they went out to the pens to range, they would all gather on the troughs for a long drink before getting to work. I use small gallon buckets. They empty them out every other day, so there's no insect issue and a quick swish is all they need for cleaning. Simple.
My chicks took to nipples very quickly. I initially used a standard waterer that quickly got fouled every day. I used the saddle type nipples installed on PVC pipe mounted at a downward angle, a cross between horizontal and vertical. I sprinkled some of their feed in front of the waterer and they soon discovered how to use the nipples.
I use the bucket with niples method. I initially just wanted to try it out because I was planning on eventually moving to one of those PVC pipe with niple waterers. So I just bought some niples off amazon. I paid a little more because of the free shipping with prime and I wanted them quick (when I get a project in mind, I obsess over it until it's done). So I got them in, drilled some holes in the bucket, and installed the niples. I also had some chicks so I installed two into the tops of the bottles while they were in their brooder. They took to them as soon as I placed one of the bigger one's beaks up to the niple.

Right now I'm only having to add water about once a week or week and a half. I'm so pleased with it, that I'm not even thinking about the PVC pipe waterer any more.

Good luck with your choice.
I use a 5gal pail with the vertical nipples. They do leak somewhat, but I keep it in the run so it's a non-issue for me. I use the same setup in the winter with this setup: http://www.motherearthnews.com/home...kens/heated-chicken-waterer-zm0z13fmzhun.aspx

I've had no problems with the nipples freezing and it got pretty cold around here this past winter.

With a 5gal pail and 7 birds I can go almost 2 weeks between water fillups. Add in a 5gal feeder and I can go away for a week as long as I can find a neighbor who wants to collect free eggs while I'm gone.
I started with a chicken jar waterer with the chicks, then changed to vertical nipples in a PVC pipe watering system when they grew older, then to the horizontal nipples in an insulated bucket during the winter, now back to the chicken jar waterer for spring and summer.

Generally, I found that my chickens prefer the open waterer for a heartier drink, especially during the warmer months. I don't have a problem supplying them with freshwater daily, except that in the winter, they have to resort to the insulated bucket because of the icing problem with the open waterer. The horizontal water nipples have less freeze up issues than the vertical nipples, but the horizontal nipples can still freeze if the water inside the bucket is not heated during the dead of the winter.

Currently, I provide both fresh water in the jar waterer daily, and the insulated bucket with horizontal nipples right next to the jar. Interestingly, the chickens always prefer to drink out of the jar waterer.

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