A while ago now, I purchased some chicken nipples. No really, there is such a thing!
Yes, these little nipples clamp onto a piece of 25mm OD (outer diameter) Grey electrical conduit with a 9mm hole. Here is how we did it.
The nipples should be placed so they hang straight down from the pipe, approximately 300mm (1 foot) apart from each other. Using a pencil, mark a straight line on the pipe from one end to the other. We used 1.3 metres of pipe. With the electrical conduit, I laid the pipe on a table so it doesn’t roll around. Dad held it for me whilst we drew the line. We used the edge of a saw as the ruler. Then we measured the 300mm spacing and marked where each hole was going to be located.
Next, I made a pilot hole with a sharp nail at each of the locations, and when this was finished, we drilled the holes with the 9mm bit. Be sure to clean waste material away from holes before installing nipples, and we used a small file and sandpaper to smooth the hole. Where the clip on nipple meets the pipe, there is a rubber ring which seals the fit. Now, just go along the pipe to each hole, and by spreading apart the clip and put the ring in the hole. We placed a nipple over the pipe and snap the clip shut as far as it could go.
The grey electrical conduit was perfect for this application as it exactly 25mm OD and nipples fit very well. Mind you, we found this out the hard way, as I initially used a piece of white 25mm ID conduit, not really knowing the difference, and mucked around for an hour and broke off three nipples! I believe that 25mm black PVC water line will work, too but be aware that nipple clamp may not click all the way. That was my next option if the grey conduit did not work.
So then we fastened the row of chicken nipples to the inside of Cluckingham Palace with some saddle clips and rigged up the water pipe to the rain barrel that we installed on Monday. I found that 19mm irrigation parts loosely fitted into the end of the grey electrical conduit, and with a bit of silicone sealer stayed in place with no problems.
The pipe has a slight drop towards the other end. There was no leaks, so we must have drilled the holes properly, and the clamps fastened tight.
Here is a chickens eye view of the pipes. Look at the shiny nipple, which are so intriguing to a chook. They love pecking shiny things!
So here is the pipe work, all 19mm, with a bit of pipe and some elbow fixtures and clamps.
So the million dollar question is “Do they work?” Well, it rained on Monday night and the barrel is about a quarter full, so when I touched a nipple, water dripped out. As for the chickens, they have not quite figured it out yet, but I have not really tried to teach them. When the barrel gets a bit fuller and the pressure increases in the pipe work, I will give it another go. I intend on teaching Jennifer first as she is the friendliest, and learns quickly, and maybe Edwina as she is quick to learn as well. I figure that if I take their normal bowl away and teach these two, the others will learn quickly. Time will tell.
Finally, a big thanks to Dad for all his help in all the guttering and chicken nipple projects over the last few days. I could not have done it as quickly or with as much enjoyment with out you!
Sustainable chicken watering! It should last for a good many years to come.
Pam Woodgate says
Great idea! I might have to steal it for my own chooks. Do you think this will work for ducks?
Looks fantastic, and what a great Idea. hope the chooks learn quickly.
Thanks Gavin – I’ve been looking all over the net for an explanation of how to put these nipples together – my local feed store doesn’t have them, I’ll have to order them, and I couldn’t get a good look at them on the various blog videos I did find with them – your pictures are so clear and the explanation so clear, I’m sure that even I can manage this.
I wonder if the water will become too hot for the chooks when the weather warms up in summer?
I will show my mister chook herder this…he could rig one up in a shady place where the sun wouldn’t shine on the pipe work. Thanks Gavin.
I love your nipples Gavin. 🙂 I am going to get some of those. My girls free range and I have to shut the coop door because the goats get in and eat the chook pellets. I will set it up so some nipples are outside so they can easily get to them when out of the coop. Thanks again – you are a mine of information.
Wow Gav- I bought some of those chicken nipples from Hatchers and Catchers on your recommendation. They came this week, and here I was wondering what the heck to do with them. And now your post!
You’ve now given me the idea to harvest water from the coop’s roof to a tank to feed them. Thanks!
Great post. So intructive. Thanks for taking the time out to share and explain.
Hi Gavin – Brilliant idea! My chooks are always “fowling” up their water supply, this would fix the problem real easy.
Do you know if there is an official name for them, or are they actually called “chicken nipples”, and can you order them online? I’ve never heard of such a thing before.
Also, from the look of your set up, they don’t seem to need any more than a gravity feed water supply. Is this correct? Cause I’m thinking I’ll hook up a gutter / water barrel system on the top of my chook shed that will sort this for me, if it doesn’t require a pump, otherwise I’ll run a water supply from one of my underground runners.
Thanks in advance, you clever dude!
Who would have thunk it? Not me for sure. I’m still shattered after the fox visit last night, but when I recover and restock it’s definately something to think about.
Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue says
great nipples! so much better than cleaning poo water and less wasteful. Will have to recommend these for the school chooks. I am amazed how much a chicken can drink.
Darren (Green Change) says
@Pam Woodgate: Ducks can drink from them, but they also need a water supply they can stick their head into. They need to flush water through their bills to clear out their nostrils after dabbling.
Hi Gavin – I ordered some chicken nipples and they just arrived – I’ll be setting them up in the next week or two.
Just a quick question – did you find you needed teflon tape for a better seal at all, or did the rubber rings do their job okay? And have you had any leakage problems since?
I’m going to learn from your effort, and go straight for grey conduit – no mucking about – and hook up to a rain barrel connected to a feed from the chook shed roof. My problem, of course, is to make the whole thing sheep tamper-proof, so it’ll have to sit pretty high up.
And in the midst of this we’re bricking in the chook shed floor with some recycled bricks, to stop it becoming a muddy mess in winter.
Ah – it’s all good fun!
Leanne – and thanks for the explanation and pics.
Gavin Webber says
Hi Leanne, Mostly good news regarding the nipples. The nipples themselves worked perfectly and the chooks even figured them out in a day, so no problems with the nipples or the pipe or rubber grommets. My biggest issue was the tap on my barrel and the quality of the water coming off of the roof. The tap leaked constantly, so I replaced it, and the water became contaminated due to pigeons sitting on the roof and defecating therefore fouling up the water (no pun intended). So I have disconnected the down pipe and just fill the rain barrel up from the hose. The chooks are happy and so am I.
Hi Gav – Yeah, I wondered about that. Keeping rainwater sources clean is the Age Old Problem that everyone faces 🙁 Dratted rats with wings!
Maybe I’ll just hook it to a bucket that we fill with a hose. It’ll save us going inside the muddy chook house every day, which is what we’re trying to avoid, as well as the whole chooks knocking their water over problem.
Thanks again 🙂
Samuel Joseph says
You can easily rely on the plumbing specialists based at Pretoria if you want them to mend that messy water system and protect your home from the risks of water damages.