I bet you are here because you just made your first DIY chicken waterer and you want to teach your birds how to use your new horizontal chicken nipple waterer.
If so, you are in the right place! In this post, I will cover the basics of setting up your new chicken waterer and how to teach your birds to use it!
For this training guide, it is assumed that you’ve installed the chicken water nipples onto a 5 gallon bucket. The process is the same regardless of the container used, it is simply the most common setup.
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Horizontal Chicken Nipple Waterer Setup
Nipple bucket should be placed on blocks so nipples are at the birds neck or shoulder level. Before starting, check that the bucket has been filled completely, and vent holes in the lid are not clogged.
I prefer to place the bucket in the run the day before training, so the birds have time to get used to it and no longer be afraid of its presence. They can sometimes find the new bucket scary at first.
In our runs, I use two 5 gallon buckets on blocks of varying height on opposite ends of the run, so dominate and submissive birds can both drink at the same time, as can younger and older birds. This provides a stress free watering location for all. I also have a bucket outside of the run so birds free ranging have a convenient place for a drink.
Nipples are intended to be used with birds 2+ weeks old, in most cases. For birds such as quail, pheasant or other smaller birds, wait until they are old enough to be able to press the nipple pin.
Remove All Other Waterers
When ready to train your birds, remove all other water sources. This is critical, and the #1 reason for training failures. If all other water sources are not removed, birds will have no motivation to learn to use the nipples.
Birds are naturally attracted to the nipples red color. Press the pin, allowing the water to flow from the nipple. Try this several times while birds are watching. Continue this until one bird drinks, and others will then follow. If birds do not drink after several minutes of pressing the pin, repeat in 30 minutes. Do not return birds usual water source between training sessions. Birds will often figure it out on their own within 10 minutes of the first training session.
A Little Help
In some cases, you may need to gently press a birds beak unto the nipple until it flows water. I have found this to be necessary with quail. This is similar to dipping a chicks beak into their water when moving them to the brooder for the first time.
You may also find success in guiding birds to drink with a laser pointer. As the birds chase and peck at the laser pointer, have the birds follow the dot to the drinker. When they peck the nipples, they should quickly figure out how to use them.
Mark The Water Line
When I am training new birds to use the nipples, I find it helpful to mark the water line on the container and check back in a few hours. If the water level has dropped, I know the birds are drinking from them, and I no longer need to sit and watch them for hours just to make sure.
Need More Help?
If you are struggling to teach your birds how to use the nipples, be sure to visit our Side Mount Poultry Nipple Troubleshooting Guide for more in-depth suggestions.
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