We have around 40 to 50 chooks most times – more in
the spring before sales time. We were looking for an easier way to deliver water to our flock without constantly
cleaning the plastic (and some galvanised ones, too!) water containers. Besides the time it took twice a day, it
was, over time, a lot of wasted water, especially since we are on tank water! Since installation of the nipple
system we have not looked back. Haven't had to mess with those things in a good while! All we do now is check water
tanks to make sure they are full!
Every one's system is going to be a little different
so it'll take a bit of imagination and maybe some ingenuity to get yours set up just the way you want. Take your
time – think it out – get it right the first time. ( I had to set mine up twice. After the first time I thought of
a better way!!) When they are installed you'll really be glad you have them! Have fun!!
Okay – here we go............
You will need;
1. Water nipples
– one for every three to four birds – one for every two birds in hot climates.
Outside Diameter pipe. The grey electrical conduit works very well and is priced right! Can be
found at most hardware stores. We have trialled several kinds of pipe and this one, we thought, was the best.
It's UV tolerant, too. After having said that - the plastic pressure line works extremely well also.
Although a bit more expensive to set up, it can be made with all the connecting parts readily available. And
it's just the right size diameter, too!
3. A water tank
of sorts – Size depends on volume of water needed to provide water line with water for approximately three
4. A 9mm drill
bit and drill.
5. A 3mm or
7. PVC cement or
clamps to connect pipe and water tank.
8. With screw in nipples
you will also need a tap to make the threads in the pipe. Size is 1/8BSPT BOTT. By matching the threads on the
nipple you could also use a bolt and screw it into the hole with a spanner. The tap is
Let's take a look at two simple systems
before we begin.....................
images below show a simple system using a 20ltr container for water source to show general setup. The system you
set up can only be limited by your imagination!
This is my set up for about 18 of our free run
flock. There are four other runs just like this except a few more nipples on a longer pipe. This one is close
to the fence so no need for a cover to keep birds from alighting on the water line. Take note - Ya don't have
to get Fancy!! (...but then neater would be nicer Ha!)
Above and Below
Water tank (Yellow container) connected
to 15mm plastic garden irrigation tube, and into conduit. Five nipples are attached
This photo is my water tank. A 20 litre
container with a plastic tap.
A 15mm piece of garden irrigation tube has been attached over the tap
outlet and leads to the grey conduit below.
As you can see left,
the black plastic tube has been siliconed inside the conduit to suit.
nipples on the line.
Water flows from the tank – down the pipes
and come out through the nipples!
Okay – this is what you need to accomplish; You need
a water tank of sorts and a way to get water to the 25mm pipe to carry water to nipples.
The image below is the way the lines inside the chook
houses are all accomplished. The entire water line coming from the bottom of tank is electrical conduit
material. This is actually an easy set up for 3 to 15 chooks! Just extend the water line and add enough
nipples. Doesn't matter if you have 10 or 100 or 1000, this system can be made to suit individual
The tank is a piece of 100mm PVC pipe, with a top cap (removable) and bottom cap glued
A hole was drilled into bottom cap and an electrical
connector installed. A 90 degree elbow added and then the straight 25mm OD Grey conduit. All parts were PVC glued
Note – Both screw in and clip on nipples are
Originally, I took my plans to an electrical outlet store, showed them what I wanted to
accomplish and they came up with the parts! Be my guest to take in this image and I am sure someone will help
you get the pieces you need.
Screw in water nipple
Mounting Water Nipples.
The nipples must be placed so they hang straight down from the pipe, approximately 300mm
apart from each other.
Using your pencil, mark a straight line on the pipe from one end to the other. With the
electrical conduit, I lay the pipe on a table so it doesn't roll around. (Try taping it down in a couple places!)
Then, by laying my pencil on a block of wood approximately 10mm thick, I can run the block of wood with the pencil
down the length of pipe on the table, marking a line as I go.
On this line, measure and mark distance between each nipple placement. 300mm apart seems to work
well for me.
Next, with the smaller drill bit, drill holes at the appropriate places. When this is finished,
go back and re-drill the holes with the 9mm bit. Be sure to clean waste material away from holes before installing
nipples. By drilling with the smaller bit first you will avoid the bit slipping and making 'digs' in the pipe.
Where the clip on nipple meets the pipe, there is a rubber ring which seals the fit. If there are 'digs', the
nipple may not seal correctly causing a water leak.
Now, with the clip on nipples, just go along the pipe to each hole, and by spreading apart the
clip, place nipple over pipe and snap the clip shut – all the way shut! The grey electrical conduit is perfect for
this application as it exactly 25mmOD and nipples fit very well. 25mm PVC water line will work, too but be aware
that nipple will not click all the way - one click will do it! 25mm pressure pipe can be used also and you
will have all the fittings that go with it. The difference is the initial price. Setting up a medium to large
system though, this pressure pipe is the only way to go.
With the screw in nipples, be aware that they are in three pieces. The plastic body, the nipple,
and the stop. This nipple must be fitted in pipe no larger than 25mm inside diameter - else the 'stop' will fall
out and the nipple will leak continually!! Look at the " Brooder Water
System" in the DIY section. It shows the parts of the
screw-in nipple and how it works inside the water pipe.
Also, with the screw-in nipple there is one extra step. You will need to tap the 9mm hole so the
threads on the nipple screw in. The tap can easily be turned by hand. Screw in tap all the way until it meets the
other side of pipe. Nipple will now screw in with help of a spanner. Being careful not to strip the threads, screw
the nipple in all the way to end of thread.
With the screw in nipple, even with the extra step, I have
found that they avail themselves to several applications better than the clip on ones. Look at Brooder Waterer for
Water Line Placement
The nipples need to be within reach of the chooks. If
it is too low, they will find it difficult to get to the nipples and after awhile, will give up and look elsewhere.
Same thing if they are too high. You want to place the nipples just above their eye height. This way they will peck
in an upward motion and the water will be easy for them to get it into their beak. Of course, some of your flock
will be taller or shorter than others, so just place at an average height and you should be okay.
Water always flows downhill. Yes, I know you know that; so did I when I set up my first one.
Until the water didn't get to the last two nipples..........on a 6 meter line they were just a bit too
high..............oops! So, make sure that there is plenty of fall from the tank, all the way down the line to the
If placing the line other than near a wall or fence, consider placing a cover over the line or
another way to keep the birds from jumping onto the water line. If there is place to alight where they shouldn't –
you can bet they will! You don't want the water line or the area beneath to get soiled. The idea is to set this up
to avoid more work.
The only thing to do now is teach the chooks to use
If you have brooded chicks, then this will be almost the same way to show them where the water is
from now on. The idea, of course, is to get them to go to the nipples themselves. However, the first time or two
you will have to show a few of them. They will teach the rest.
This is made simpler if your birds are penned. Free range birds more than likely have other water
sources than what you provide. Anything that catches rain water or morning dew is apt to be a
I also found it easier to show them after a good feed as this is the time they seem to really go
for the water.
Basically – just gently put their beak on the nipple so that a bit of water flows and they get
some. Do this for one out of six or seven and they will teach the rest. It might take a couple days of doing this
but once they start your job just got a lot easier! Be patient – If I can do this - you can, too!
A word about your tank
The nipples are designed to work with very little water
pressure. Hooking up to your mains water or a large; 500 litre or more, water source simply will not work as the
pressure created by the water will stop the birds from being able to trigger the nipples! When considering
your water needs, try to limit the system so that the tank will need refilled after 3 to 5 days. This amount will
keep water flowing and much less likely to accumalate that gooky green stuff in the line, which will in time, of
course, stop up the nipples and need to be cleaned out. This is also a good reason to consider the pressure pipe if
you have a larger setup. The parts can be unscrewed, cleaned, and put back together in a
We would like to see your system set up. Not all of us are
as handy as others and it helps to share ideas. So, go to to the ‘Community Forum’ It's there for
people to share ideas, show off your flock, and get help from others. This is a free site (nothing to sell) for
poultry people! Maybe you have questions or would like to help others with your vast chook
Either way - Join us and have some