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Nipple Watering- not enought in high heat!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by DGinDeLuz, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. DGinDeLuz

    DGinDeLuz Hatching

    Jun 20, 2016
    I've lurked on this site since a friend told me about it, but first time post (first time I've created an account!). First off, there is a huge amount of information here, and I read a few of the pages regarding nipple watering but there is too much to review. Apologies in advance if this is somewhere that I didn't find it.

    Straight to the point: Nipple Watering alone is INSUFFICIENT if you have a very hot/arid conditions. Unfortunately, I know this from experience. We have recently lost two gorgeous 1 year old Rhode Island Red hens due to my own ignorance about this, so I wanted to spread the word to any other newbies like myself.

    Our hens are all a bit over 1year, and all have used the nipple watering (from a 5 gal bucket hanging in their coop) since they were feathered. Conditions where we live are normally very mild (Southern California), but we have recently had a few episodes of extreme heat. During the fist heat wave (several weeks ago), we lost one Red hen. It was a mystery to me at the time- I just found her dead in the coop. No signs of illness or trauma. There was water in the bucket and the other birds (All Americauna) seemed fine. Yesterday it hit 114F degrees, and today it was 109 at 10:30 am (with temps climbing!). This morning I found another dead hen in the coop (the other Red), just like the last time we had a heat wave. I put a large water container on the ground for the remaining birds, and they went NUTS over it (opening their mouths and shaking their heads in the cool water- it was crazy). They still drink from the nipples when the water trough is "occupied". They were Clearly Dehydrated, but I didn't have enough experience to spot it.

    My newb to newb advice: Nipple Watering systems are very convenient, and may be fine during normal conditions, but you should consider adding an additional water source during hot/arid conditions.
    2 people like this.

  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Welcome to BYC - good observation.
  3. azjustin

    azjustin Chirping

    Apr 1, 2016
    Tucson, AZ

    48 RIRs, 15 Turks, 6 Javas, all on horizontal nips and zero casualties. No need to explain what the summer is like here, "brutal" covers it.

    The only thing we give them outside of the normal conditions is fast moving air and hard shade 24 hours a day. Maybe once a day the run might get a good hosing, but that's about it for extra water.

    Not trying to argue, but there may be other factors to look into if you're losing birds in the heat.
  4. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Songster

    Mar 6, 2013
    I discovered the same thing myself when I used nipple waterers. The birds were unable to get enough in the heat and were likely mildly dehydrated. They spent all there time at the bucket just taking turns drinking from the nipples. I'm sure some received less than others when they never leave the bucket! When I put a water tub in there, they attacked it. After they were grown I had one sterile male from that group, something I never had before, and I wondered if it had anything to do with possible dehydration when growing.
    Those temps are brutal for birds. I'm surprised you didn't lose more just due to the heat! I would be hanging a few ice buckets in there and blowing a fan on them with those temperatures.
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I put additional water sources out for my flock during the hottest time of the year, in addition to the nipple system.

  6. flocking nuts

    flocking nuts Chirping

    Jun 13, 2016
    Homestead, Florida

    Hi. I'm new to BYC, and I just started chickening last month. I was just looking into nipples for watering today. I'm out between Miami and Everglades National Park, so we get hot, but we're really humid. Now I think I want the nipple watering system, but more as a guarantee of clean water than as a primary source.

    I bought six chicks, but unbeknownst to us the house we we adopted by a broody hen who's eggs started to hatch the night we brought the chicks home. Since they hatched she has brought them on the property and trained the humans that live there very well. She rejected a late Hatcher that wasn't up to foraging trips, so we have seven, she has eight, so we wound up with 16.

  7. Corilation does not equate to causation...

    Important fact, correlation does not imply causation...

    I don't care what the temp is or if you chickens are fully hydrated, if you put in fresh open water when they have only had nipples they will go nuts for it, just like they go nuts for a mud puddle after it rains even if they had a tub of water in the run, it's simply what they do...

    Now, I have to ask prior to the death were your chickens waiting in line to get a drink? Or spending all day (and I mean all day) at the nipples? If not why do you suspect they were not getting enough? High temps alone as you describe 110° or more can be fatal regardless of the amount of water they have available, they also need shelter from the heat in that kind of weather, what kind of shelter and shade did your birds have to keep them out of the sun and cooler? Was the water in a shady place so it wasn't 'hot' as well and discouraging them from drinking and/or did you change it out daily with fresh cool water? How many nipples did you have for how many birds? Were the nipples mounted the proper height and were they functioning properly? How much ventilation does you coop have vs the number of birds and size of coop, and what kind of bedding? Extreme heat will release and exponential amount of ammonia, and can cause lung irritation on an already heat stressed bird...

    Fact is focusing on a single correlation and claiming it causation many times leads to a false conclusion...

    If they had to wait around and take turns you likely did not have enough nipples... If they truly spent all day at the nipples and did not get enough water, I have to ask how much water was in the bucket they were drinking from and how many times a day did you have to refill it? And how many nipples vs birds?

    My birds can polish off 10 gallons of water on a hot day and I rarely ever see them at the nipples drinking, and generally only or or two at a time when I do see them there drinking, if the nipples were occupied all day I would be going through 100s of gallons in a blink...

    Fact is nipples are industry standard worldwide and there is no way the poultry industry would be using them and risking lost revenue over it because they were not getting enough water...

    Many people here also use them without fault, so I would caution against jumping to causes without addressing all the possible factors and variables, especially when you consider the temps you claim as I said can be fatal on their own even when the birds are fully hydrated...
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016
    1 person likes this.

  8. thetmoo

    thetmoo In the Brooder

    Apr 5, 2016
    I have a home made bucket with nipples in the bottom and also hang a smaller regular waterer each day when I gather eggs. Some but not all of the chickens get really interested in the regular waterer each day. The regular waterer is always dry every day. They drink it first and then move on to the nipple bucket. For whatever reason they will use the nipple bucket, but don't prefer it.

    My nipple bucket wasn't vented, but was never a problem. The other day I got it REALLY full and it could not vent and would not release water when the nipples were pressed. Those chickens were parched. Once I cracked the lid on it and showed the chickens it was working they got in line and hit it hard. Some of them were following me to the house as I carried the empty regular waterer from the coop pecking at it as I walked away.

    Anyhow, back to the original post. If it was 114 deg, I could survive drinking from a water fountain (nipple bucket). I would prefer a giant sweet tea (normal waterer), if you put a cold bucket of water in front of me, I would dunk my whole head in it (big pan of water). I obviously don't know all of the real details, but at those kind of temperatures even well hydrated animals can die.

  9. Nipples are a convenience for us not for the chickens... They choose open water first because it's more convenient for them...

    Drill or cut a hole in the lid so that never happens again, even a small hole will work, why risk it?
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2016
  10. thetmoo

    thetmoo In the Brooder

    Apr 5, 2016
    Unless you have a plumbed in water source, the advantage of nipples to me is keeping the water clean. Also it is cheaper to make the buckets than to buy that many hanging waterers.

    Yes, I quickly realized a hole in the lid was in order. A small vent hole won't hurt anything.

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