Today I want to talk about nipple waterers. This is something that we use for our chickens, ducks and pigs here. I know that some have a system that works really well for them, this is what works for us, so I wanted to share. We first tried nipple waterers for the chickens. I bought the vertical kind from several companies, I had a lot of problems with water dripping non-stop. They just didn’t work for us.
So, we switched to the horizontal waterers. They are not as easy to obtain, but they work a lot better for us. We start the chicks and ducks on them in their first week. We have five gallon nipple waters in our brooders and all our small pens. In our large pens we have 55 gallon drums with nipples. We originally got the barrels with bung holes on top and we put nipples all the way around them. Lesson learned, these are impossible to clean. Now we only put nipples on one side and we buy drums with the screw tops.
We also use nipple waterers for the pigs. We buy the gravity fed nipple waterers sold on Amazon. We typically use a step drill to put five holes (though we do one at a time) in a V pattern. I’ve had much more success getting younger pigs to drink from the nipples than older. But, once the pigs see any pig drinking they will do it. So, step drill (we use this because we have found that the nipples aren't always a uniform size. So instead of constantly changing drill bits you can just make the hole a bit bigger with the step drill bit) to drill your hole, once you verify the size and fit is correct, you can use silicone to seal it up, then let it dry, fill it up and let your pigs enjoy.
To “train” any of the animals on the nipples I just walk over to it and push the water. Once one animals know how to do it, the next will learn. I always make sure there is a “teacher” in any pen. So really, you only need to teach the first group, they teach each other after that.
For buckets, we always use food grade, BPA free buckets. I used to get them at Lowe’s, but now I’m finding them more places. Tractor Supply has them now. For barrels, I use Food Grade. Typically they have carried jalapeños, olives or pig casings. I rinse them out, the pigs don’t care…
I wrote this quickly to answer some questions and show some pictures for a friend that had questions. Let me know if I missed something, have typos or if I need to clarify!!
Horizontal Chicken Nipples