Poultry nipples -chicken's last resort?


5 Years
Dec 31, 2014
I put out a 5 gallon bucket waterer with poultry nipples at the bottom and hung it just above head height for my 11 week old chickens. I checked and it works fine.

I saw one one or two chickens try it but for the most part they use their 1 gallon waterers that they have had since they were chicks - the basic kind that you flip over and the water drains a little at a time into the base.

Then one day I came home and they had tipped over the 1 gallon waterers. They were all swarming under the 5 gallon poultry nipple waterer drinking away. When I replaced their gallon waterers on the ground, they seemed to forget all about the poultry nipples. They have had the poultry nipple waterer for at least 3-4 weeks.

What route should I take? I don't want them depending on these little 1 gallon chick waters which run out quickly and can risk tipping over. My choices i figure are:

A) Just get them a big traditional type waterer and acknowledge that they don't like the poultry nipples.

B) Take away the 1 gallon waterers, add another 5 gallon nipple waterer, and force them to use the poultry nipples (while monitoring to be certain that they all are.)

C) Leave it as is, with the poultry nipples as a backup if the others tip or spill.

I have 16 eleven week old chickens - Mostly Brahmas, Orpingtons, Australorps.

Also - side note - When i pick up my chickens some seem pretty scrawny in the breast area. We are planning on eating some of these and I am wondering if it is typical for for chickens of this age to not be filling out yet. They always have food and they all look great. Just not meaty.

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Hi. When I switched all my birds over to the nipples I took away all other water sources. They've been just fine and using the nipples since last year. So I'd go with option B. It's easier for you, and it's so much cleaner.

They take quite awhile to fill out, give them time.
Just remove all other water and keep the nipple waterer full and you'll be good to go.

Don't be surprised if down the road you see them drinking out of a puddle or some other "easy" source of water. they're lazy so if they can drink from a puddle instead of the dribbling from the nipples they will, but as long as it's available from the waterer they always have water when they need it.
I've used nothing but nipple waterers for two years now with no problem but when ever there is standing water they have access to they act like they haven't had a drink in weeks.
We switched ours over and it took them some time to figure it out, but now they're doing fine. We did the cups though, not the nipples (because they can drip) and moved their gallon waterer outside where they free range and left the cup bucket inside where they are in the morning/evenings. Some of them were a bit slow, but i put grains down inside the cups, which caused them to peck the knobs and water to come out and so they got it after that.

I'd say go with #2, because the bell waterers get so dirty and are such a hassle! A little ACV in the cup water bucket and we don't have to do anything to it but refill once in a while. MUCH more convenient.
Drinking through the nipples is like drinking through a swivel straw.

They won't dehydrate, but it's a bit of work for the birds.

I would remove all other sources, and let them work for the drink.

The pros outweigh the cons.
We're using all horizontal nipples now. They don't freeze up the winter. We just add a 250 watt horse tank heater to each bucket in winter. We put ACV in with the water in summer for no algae. It really couldn't be any easier.

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