Nipple waterers and hens not drinking enough

Oneacre Homestead

8 Years
May 25, 2011
Hi I (ok, my husband) made a bucket nipple waterer for me. The chickens all learned to use it no prob and I was thrilled. Then the other day we were filling a pan with water and the chickens all went crazy drinking from it as if they were dying of thirst. I think maybe it is hard for them tO get enough from the nipples. I just wanted to share this and ask if anyone else has had this issue. The nipples were functioning properly and they were using them.D
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I read on another post that commercial poultry farmers noticed their chickens drink less from non-pan-type watering devices (eg. the ones they have to peck at).

My pullets kept messing their water pans, so I switched to the individual water things that are used for budgies, however, they managed to mess in that one too. My father came up with a perfect solution: a heavy metal dog food bowl. It's the sides are high enough that the pullets can't sit over it to poop, yet heavy enough that they can perch on the sides to drink without tipping it over.
We just installed a nipple watering system in our run and coop. They have yet to catch on to it, though, so we still have a plastic waterer in the run. Our chickens free range during the day and we have a couple big metal dog bowls with water placed around the yard. I most often see them drinking from puddles left by the sprinklers or mud puddles made by my daughter. I try so hard to keep their water bowls/waterers clean and they prefer to drink muddy puddle water!
I use nipple waterers in the coops... less mess.... and in the summer I have a nipple waterer in each yard as well as one gallon high sided bowls which I fill 2-3 times a day with fresh water. The need for water is much greater in summer and the extra bowls help. Surprisingly the bowls stay cleaner than the plastic founts ever did... I guess it's because they cannot perch on top and poop down the sides
Drives me nuts!!! Mine do the same thing... plenty of fresh water and where do they run when I open the pop doors... to nastiest puddle they can find
I use heavy dishes instead of founts now too. I only use my founts for chicks now. They were always a mess and such a pain to clean!
My chickens do the same thing. We have 2 bucket waterers with nipples. I see the chickens drinking out of them. I also put out other waterers on the ground. They run up to those and drink like they are really thirsty.
Nearly 100% of the chickens in the US poultry industry drink from nipple drinkers. They are not deprived of water in any way, just would not be economically sensible.

Contact you nipple supplier to see what the expected outflow is for your nipples. They should be able to tell you how to measure it for the nipples they sell.

Generally with as much head pressure as is carried on a nipples in a 5 gallon bucket situation there is excessive pressure. With elevted thanks it is even worse.

Commercial systems for layers usually have about an 8" head. If there is a problem with the birds not getting enough water it is generally - 1) not enough head pressure, 2) nipples to low, 3) airlocks in drinker pipes or supply pipes.

Remember that chickens will always prefer to drink from a pool of water over a nipple. But thats too bad, nipples are better for them.

If production or growth has not suffered from lack of water so far it is just a matter of prefernce that youhave observed.
Thank you for the info, Neil! I was just out in our run with our eight 7-10 week old chicks. We just installed the nipple water system yesterday and they weren't very interested in it. This morning they were having a great time drinking water from each of the 5 nipples! It was something new and they were pushing each other out of the way to get at them! YEAH! Now if we can just solve the dripping problem we'll be set!
Question, if you use a 5 gallon bucket with the nipple installed and you fill it with water and put a lid on top, do you have to have an air hole in the lid for it to work properly?

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