Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Lesson 1017 – Chicken Nipples (again)

By Wendythomas @wendyenthomas

In a recent Chicken workshop I held for our Adult Education Series, I was asked about using chicken nipples as a way to supply water to the flock.

We have used them. At first chicken nipples seemed like such a good idea – no waste of water and you get to fill the water from the top of a bucket. Not only that but, initially our coop floor was dry around the water, a problem that we always had trouble with – and a dry floor certainly cuts down on fowl foot problems.

But after time, the nipples turned out to be a bit of a pain.

We had our nipples secured to the bottom of a hanging bucket which was perfect for the adult birds – not so for our bantams and our chicks. For those guys we had to keep a constant supply of fresh water near ground level. Twice the work for our water needs.

And then there was the dirt in the nipples. Chickens scratch in the dirt all the time. This means that there can be debris on their beaks as they peck at the nipples. We’ve found a few nipples clogged with sand and dirt (it only takes a few grains) from either the beaks or mud splatter, which then let water constantly drip under the bucket.

Kind of defeated the entire purpose.

And let’s talk about winter. Frozen water is water that cannot be used by the flock. In order for nipples to work in the winter, we’d have to heat both the water and the nipples (which usually have a metal component that adds to the water’s freezing.) Compare this to putting our metal waterer on a heater base which solves the problem for us very nicely.

We’ve tried chicken nipples and we’re just not big fans of them.

Having said, that though, I know of many who use them and who think they are the best thing since sliced bread.

What’s been your experience? Love em? Hate them? Is water in a galvanized bucket good enough for your flock?


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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