Water Nipple Installation Guide

          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.

 2.     25mm 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 days.

 4.     A 9mm drill bit and drill.

 5.     A 3mm or similar bit.

 6.     A pencil

 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 easier!


 Let's take a look at two simple systems before we begin.....................

 The 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!)

My Setup 


Above and Below

 Water tank (Yellow container) connected to 15mm plastic garden irrigation tube, and into conduit. Five nipples are attached


 Water Tank  This photo is my water tank. A 20 litre container with a plastic tap.


Water line

  A 15mm piece of garden irrigation tube has been attached over the tap outlet and leads to the grey conduit below.

Water line connection    As you can see left, the black plastic tube has been siliconed inside the conduit to suit.




                                                                 Individual nipples on the line.


Water nipple 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 needs!

  Nipple set up    The tank is a piece of 100mm PVC pipe, with a top cap (removable) and bottom cap glued on.

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 together.

 Note – Both screw in and clip on  nipples are shown.

            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.


 Nipple Parts       Screw in water nipple parts

                                                                         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 ideas!



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 last nipple.

            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 them!

          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 target.

            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 jiffy.

 In Conclusion...

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 knowledge......

Either way - Join us and have some fun!