This last weekend I was reading the many forums about chickens and gardening because it was just too cold to play outside. I like the temperatures to be at least in the 60’s before I go out and tackle my many elective tasks before Spring gets here (silly me). I noticed a reoccurring theme.
How do chicken owners keep up with providing fresh, clean water for their girls?
As I said in one of my earlier posts, I do a lot of research before embarking on a new project. I read about a very simple system using something called chicken nipples. It involves a gravity fed watering system. I did not want to go to the expense of building a float valve. I would be concerned if the system failed and flooded out the backyard.
My system simply involves a clean 5 gallon bucket, some hose, a couple of quick connect fittings, PVC pipe and a couple of nipples.
The bucket sits on top of the run to make it easier to change the water. I have included some pictures to show how I built this system and it has worked very well.
There is a simpler version that just uses a bucket with nipples on the bottom of it. Since my coop is only 40″ tall and I don’t want to have to crawl into the run every time I need to change the water,my system works for me.
One of the many reasons I like this system, is that I work, and the girls are a hobby. I don’t have a lot of time to do maintenance chores during the week. The problem with the gallon type of ground waterer is that the girls can make it filthy in very short period of time.
5 Days Supply of Water
I have been using the nipples since I built the run and I have never had to clean the drinking portion of this system. When I change the water most of the time I will wash out the bucket with soapy water and rinse thoroughly. If I am in a time crunch I will spray the bucket out with household vinegar and rinse it out. Using these two cleaning methods I have not had any mold grow on the bucket. There have been a couple of occasions where the water hasn’t been changed for 5 days, without any problems.
I also add one tablespoon per gallon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar with ‘mother’ (ACV) to their drinking water for a couple of reasons.
- The vinegar tends to control or slow down the growth of mold in the water if it doesn’t get changed as frequently as I would like.
- The vinegar acidifies the girls digestive system which reduces some of the bacteria (salmonella for one) as well as aids in helping breakdown some of the minerals they ingest.
- I am from the old school that says if someone has been doing this for a long time and has continually seen positive results why argue with it.
Coop Queen Nipples
There are two styles of nipples, saddle which involves drilling a hole in a PVC pipe and snapping the nipple on to it. The other is a screw on type which goes on the bottom of a bucket. I try to keep my business with American companies. I found “Coop Queen” on Amazon and have talked to them and found them to be very helpful when I had I little drip problem. I got a 2nd set from them and they solved my drip problem completely.
I have just a couple more thoughts on waterers.
- The reason I use quick connects is I can remove the bucket quickly and usually not get wet.
- Yes the nipples must be facing down. If they aren’t they will leak.
- It took my girls a couple of hours to figure out how to use the nipples, but once one of them uses it they all will use it.
Keep the Water Cool in Summer
Another feature I like about the bucket and PVC pipe system is that I can throw a couple of frozen water bottles (unopened) in the bucket during the summer to cool down the water. Chickens need water for egg production as well as survival. During the hottest part of the summer I will provide a second one gallon waterer for them in another part of the yard to make sure they can easily stay hydrated. I will throw a frozen water bottle into the gallon waterer to cool that water. I keep a 2nd set of water bottles in the freezer and switch them out during the day as needed.