How do I teach my wary chickens to use nipple waterer?


13 Years
Jul 23, 2008
Chapel Hill, NC
I've had one full week with the ladies and so far things are going well. Next on my list of things to get the chickens to do is for them to start using the nipple waterers.

These girls are almost a year old and aren't used to being handled at all. It really freaks them out. They don't mind standing on your feet, but don't try to touch them. We're slowly working on it, but it's going to take some time. I've also got four chicks that are around 6 weeks old (give or take) and they, too, are very skittish.

I've got a 5 gallon nipple waterer hanging in the run and have tried putting pieces of apple on the nipples. They do get picked off eventually, but the girls don't go back to the nipples to see what happens if you peck them. I'm afraid to take away their other water because I don't think they'll use the nipples. I'm wondering if anyone has some success stories about getting their birds to use them. I could use a bit of motivation.
Older birds are difficult to teach "new" things to. I got some cage hens from a Hutterite colony a few years ago, and they never did learn to roost, or to jump up to the nest boxes to lay their eggs. If they do begin to make the adjustment, be sure that they all find the nipples before you discontinue the other waterer, or you may have some die from dehydration. Good luck!
I would try to pick them up (the alpha hen if you can) and tap her beak on it so water comes out and (for me at least) she will drink a little. repeate for all of the other hens. After that watch them and maybe take the water away when you are there and can watch them. Some of mine were doing it and I did not even know!

Hope this helps!

If there is any way that you can loosen the nipples so that you create a slow drip, do so. Once they determine that the nipples are source of water, gradually tighten until the dripping stops. Might take a couple of days, but they should learn. good luck, Geo.
Hold a treat up against the nipple. They will peck at it and see it drips water. My girls were young and learned in about 5 seconds. They all went crazy pecking at the nipple and getting water.
Woo hoo! More good ideas! I'll post back when I've succeeded.

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