Problem getting chickens to use Chicken Nipple Waterer


In the Brooder
8 Years
Aug 12, 2011
I made a waterer out of a bucket and nipple style waterers like this:

I showed them how to use it but it doesn't seem like they were entirely catching on. I watched them for a while and a few went up to it to get water but since it is pretty hot I was concerned that they weren't getting enough water so I put out the old style waterer and they went crazy, rushing towards it and guzzling, which only leads me to believe that they haven't gotten the hang of the nipple system or that it doesn't work well.

Does anyone have experience with this system and have some advice? I don't want to stress my birds. I have a dozen of them and one nipple for every three birds.

Thanks, Vivienne
I was wondering about those watering nipples as well. I'd like to know what others think

Maybe just leave their regular waterer out as well until they figure it out.
I'm in the same boat actually. I went through the trouble to make a waterer like yours, and even tried to show my chickens what do to. They have never caught on, and refuse water until the point where I'm worried about their health. As soon as I put down a regular waterer, they act like they've just crossed the Sahara, and I feel like a jerk.

I've just plain given up at this point. I have no idea what kind of chicken magic others are using to switch over so easily.
I would be a little worried only if it's very hot where you live. I waited until the weather cooled because only a couple hours without water in my kind of heat (110+) would kill them. When the fall came and I finally made the switch I was worried that they weren't drinking enough. Here is what I posted almost a year ago to someone with a very similar question as yours:
I too was very worried about my girls getting enough water from the nipples and was ready to get rid of them. They didn't seem to visit to the nipple waterers or stay as long as they did the vacuum waterers. Every time they'd encounter free-standing water, like where I irrigate trees, they'd gulp water like they'd been without for days. Here in the desert that can be quite worrisome. So, a couple weeks ago I decided to figure out exactly how much water they were consuming with the nipple waterers compared to the regular plastic vacuum waterers. I measured the exact amount consumed each day over 5 days with the nipple waterers and 5 days with the vacuum waterers. I was surprised to find that my six hens drank 2.75 cups of water per day from the nipples and 2.5 cups per day from the vacuum waterers. Water consumption was also surprisingly consistent over days. I've decided to keep the nipples because the pros seem to outweigh the cons. I think chickens just like to gulp water and it looks to us like they are thirstier than they should be.

It's now been almost a year and I'm quite pleased with the nipple waterers. I occasionally have pans of water distributed around the yard in the summer, but they get most of their water from the nipple waterers. I love them because they are a very clean and reliable source of water in case a waterer gets tipped or forgotten. Don't feel as if you have to make the switch now, do it when the weather cools. If you don't think they are getting enough water, quantify how much they are drinking. At least you'll know for sure and that should put your mind at ease. Good luck!​
I agree with Gallo del Cielo's comments.

I have some 3 year old hens that figured them out on their own have been using them exclusively since they were a couple moths old. However, I have a new batch of pullets that I'd been watering out of gravity feed/open pans since they were chicks. When I installed the chicken licker (nipple) bucket, I introduced the nipples to a few of them and got their beaks wet. They would peck at it a little, then seem to lose interest. I kept the pans and bucket going together for a week or so, then actually added a couple more buckets and took away the pans. Figured it was time to sink or swim...they did fine.

I'm completely sold on the chicken lickers. I use enough buckets (have used a barrel too) so that I don't have to water them for weeks or months. The water is always clean and fresh, and no spills inside the coop. Beyond the occasional stray drip, haven't had a chicken licker leak on me yet.

Just be sure the buckets aren't completely sealed up, you need to let some air in to keep the gravity drip.
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My chickens are kind of like dogs. Given a choice, they will drink out of my fish pond rather than their own water; it just tastes better. However, I love that there is always clean water in and near their coop in my nipple waterers (milk jugs) and they all picked up how to use them very quickly. They didn't seem to want to use them in public at first though.
:yiipchickif you leave the old water system in, they will never catch-on because they will always expect to get their water from the same source, like was mentioned before, if the weather is not hot let them go without, they will eventually sniff out the water and begin to get the hang of it... mine caught on and I'm relieved because I no longer have to clean out nasty poop filled containers!!!
x2, remove the other system. I have used nipples from day one. Yes, day one. Have not lost one bird to dehydration, and it gets hot here also. If they are thirsty they will drink.
another vote for nipples !!!!!!!!!!! i use them in the bottom of 5 gal buckets that hang from hooks 3 nips per bucket have had no iisues thus far

when winter comes i have bucket deicers that go in and work untill it just drops brutal and the nips will freeze at that point there is a heated dog bowl in there and they have it

they eat snow too
They should be fine. I was on vacation last months for 4 1/2 weeks and my 5 chickens are doing fine with 6 gallon buckets water nipples. There is no water change or refill. I think people just worry too much about the chicken.
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