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Poultry Nipple Waterer DIY Instructions- Clean Water is Always a Tap Away

Poultry Nipple Waterer in Quail Coop 

With the addition of quail to my backyard poultry collection recently, I found that they are particularly messy and that keeping the water clean was a constant challenge. This challenge inspired me to make some poultry nipple waterers (PNW) for them. It's not always easy to ensure a clean supply of water to chickens (or other poultry) with traditional waterers, even if the supply is changed several times daily. Chickens foul the water with droppings, dirt and bedding. 

We know that access to clean, fresh water is vital to chickens' health as well as their egg production. Depriving chickens of water for even a few hours can halt egg production for weeks. Self-contained watering systems have been used by the commercial poultry industry for years to eliminate the problems inherent to traditional waterers. Chickens simply tap the end of the nipple to activate the
release of water from the container directly into their mouths. PNW are inexpensive, simple to make and boast certain benefits over traditional waterers:

1) the water is always clean and cleaner water means less exposure to diseases like coccidiosis

2) can be kept inside the coop without spillage concerns (wet bedding creates an environment that fosters diseases and respiratory problems)

3) occupy no floor space,freeing up valuable square footage

4) facilitates drinking in scissor-beaked chickens  

The major limitation of poultry nipple waterers is that they will freeze in cold temperatures, necessitating the use of traditional waterers in the winter, which are easily kept liquid using a DIY cookie tin water heater.   

  Poultry Nipple Waterer Cookie Tin Water Heater 

PNW can be made from a variety of containers from water bottles to 5 gallon buckets, PVC pipes to plastic juice bottles. Poultry nipples are available online from a wide variety of sources, very inexpensively. I purchased mine on
from Mr Peeps for $1.00 each. 


a plastic bottle, bucket or container (tops to buckets are optional)

stainless steel, screw-in poultry nipple (1 for every 2-3 birds) 

5/16" drill bit for thin plastic such as water bottles or 11/32" bit for thick plastics such as 5 gallon buckets

silicone sealant or thread tape

string, wire, etc. for hanging

STEP 1: Using a drill on low RPMs with a 5/6" bit, make a hole in the cap or bottom of the container

 Poultry Nipple Waterer Drill Hole 

 Poultry Nipple Waterer Hole in Cap 

 STEP 2: Apply silicone sealant or thread tape around the hole.

Poultry Nipple Waterer Silicone 

  Poultry Nipple Waterer Silicone Drilled Hole 

STEP 3: Screw the poultry nipple into the hole.

 Poultry Nipple Waterer Screw in Nipple

This five nipple, PVC poultry waterer is gravity-fed from a five gallon bucket and will accommodate 10-15 birds. Plenty for everyone!  via Flickr, courtesy of kentbrew
 Poultry Nipple Waterer Flickr Kentbrew 

 Nipple Waterers can be made to accommodate many chickens at the same time.  The design is limited to your imagination!

 Poultry Nipple Waterer 5 Gallon Bucket 

 STEP 4: Install a hangar. I drilled holes near the top of the PNW and threaded floral wire through both sides.  

 Poultry Nipple Waterer Hangar 

The quail and baby Polish chicks adapted to the PNW immediately.

 Poultry Nipple Waterer Quail

This was the first time these Polish Crested chicks had seen the PNW and they took to it naturally.
 Poultry Nipple Waterer Polish Chicks 

 Poultry Nipple Waterer Hangar Polish Chicks 2 

  Poultry Nipple Waterer Polish Chicks 3 

There is no training necessary when employing PNWs with young chicks, but there may be with older chickens who are accustomed to traditional waterers. Re-training should only be done in cooler temperatures as there is a learning curve involved.

PN training involves putting away all traditional waterers and showing the chickens how it works by tapping the PN with a finger. Their attention is drawn to the water droplet and as soon as one investigates and tests it, others follow.

I invite you to join me on my blog, The Chicken Chick for more chicken-keeping information, tips, photos and DIY projects with a splash of creativity!

JOIN me on FACEBOOK: The Chicken Chick at Egg Carton Labels by ADozenGirlz 

aquabarrel barrel
10/9/2013 9:32:36 PM

We found that the 'traditional' method of placing the nipples on the bottom of container led to a few problems. When setting them on the ground it was easy to damage a nipple. If the holes that the nipple go into are not drilled and threaded properly you are not able to easily replace a damaged one. This design is much more user friendly:

kathy mormino
6/28/2012 1:25:06 AM

Congratulations Martha! You have won the Happy Hen Treats Giveaway! Please email me with your shipping address:

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 5:49:47 PM

You're welcome, Britny! Let me know how they turn out!

britny garcia
6/27/2012 5:05:11 PM

Thank you for the step-by-step instruction! I ordered the nipples last week and have been saving plastic bottles. I hope to make these this afternoon! Thanks! :)

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 4:28:57 PM

Thanks Audrey, it is a really simple project.

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 4:28:24 PM

Ginger, there are actually three different Guides to Backyard Chickens in this series!

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 4:27:54 PM

My pleasure!

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 4:27:33 PM

If your chickens are already using traditional waterers, you'll need to take a little time to teach them how to use the PNWs but once one catches on, they teach the others.

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 4:26:23 PM

Let me know what you think and how your chickens adjust to them, Makenna.

audrey siebert
6/27/2012 4:05:35 PM

This is my next project for our chicken coop! I hope to have one designed & set up by fall, even tho I won't get much use out of it until next spring/summer. So grateful for your tutorial! Makes it look alot simpler than what I was thinking!

ginger dunn
6/27/2012 3:16:06 PM

would love, love, love to have the best Guide to Backyard Chickens (don't have any of the Grit series yet)...I try and read all I can to help make our hens have a great life, even our old retired girls, me crazy but I just love having them around :)

6/27/2012 4:27:19 AM

This is so simple!! What a good thing for me to learn about. I will be making a couple of these right away. Thanks for the tutorial!

charlotte thomas
6/27/2012 3:32:14 AM

I need to start using the ones I bought months ago:/ thanks for the info. You make it look easy!

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 3:30:41 AM

Martha- they're great in the brooder!

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 3:22:29 AM

In the heat of summer, there's no such thing as too many waterers, Stephanie. They'll use 'em all!

makenna vanegas
6/27/2012 3:20:09 AM

I HAVE TO try this!!! Wonderful idea!

martha waugh
6/27/2012 3:15:41 AM

Ingenious! I wish I had known about this for my brooder box. My little nuggets would make such a mess with their water. Making a mental note for next time.

kristi stone
6/27/2012 2:48:39 AM

Awesome! Definitely wanting to try this!

stephanie clark
6/27/2012 2:36:30 AM

I so wish I had seen this blog posting yesterday! I just bought a second waterer in the hopes that it if they had two, they wouldn't foul them up so quickly. :) Classic newbie mistake. The pvc pipe PNW is INGENIOUS!! Will definitely try this one out.

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 1:56:05 AM

Good for you, Lori! Let me know how they work out for you!

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 1:46:28 AM

Sara, have you seen my PVC feeder on my blog? I think you may be interested in it as it saves on feed waste.

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 1:45:40 AM

Eggsactly Sara!

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 1:45:28 AM

Cathy, they're really simple to make and do make a big difference in the quaility of the chickens' water.

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 1:44:54 AM

Let me know what you think, Maisah.

lori williams gearheart
6/27/2012 1:37:50 AM

I showed my husband this & he's excited to give it a try! Tired of our algae trough!

kathy mormino
6/27/2012 1:36:11 AM

Thanks Dave! Thanks for stopping by!

sara sweatman
6/27/2012 1:27:42 AM

I really love the pvc waterers and feeders. they seem so easy to use and stay much cleaner. I would love to be able to cut back on a lot of the waste.

sara sweatman
6/27/2012 1:25:54 AM

Anything that keeps the water from getting so dirty. Yuck!

cathy jones
6/27/2012 1:15:46 AM

Very cool idea!Need to make some of these for the girls.

maisah fatoom
6/27/2012 1:12:26 AM

I love this idea and will try it... Thank you Kathy!

nebraska dave
6/26/2012 6:41:23 PM

Kathy, very ingenious ways to make self watering for chickens out of recycled bottles. Cheap and easy are two of my favorite things. Thanks for sharing all your acquired wisdom from your chicken experiences. Have a great chicken day.