When it comes to supplying clean water to chickens, there is no question that poultry nipple drinkers are the gold standard. Baby chicks are given the best possible start in life with access to clean water 100% of the time with the use of nipple drinkers. Chicks very naturally take to nipple drinkers, so training isn’t an issue- my challenge has always been in finding up a system for holding the drinker inside the brooder, particularly when using a soft-sided brooder such as a puppy playpen or cardboard box. The solution? A tomato cage! Read on for directions to build your own!
The disadvantages of traditional chick drinkers are that chicks invariably foul the water with poop and litter, which is a recipe for illness and disease. Poultry veterinarian, Dr. Mike Petrik shares his thoughts on the use of poultry nipple drinkers: “NOBODY who is raising chickens professionally has used cups, bell drinkers or troughs in the past 25 years…nipples have been used successfully on literally billions of chickens. The professional farmers across North America have made nipple drinkers the standard for all chickens. In fact, as a vet, I recommend that everyone raising hens change from open water sources to nipple drinkers….the hens get plenty of water, and the disease reduction is so striking that there is no doubt which is better.
The advantage of a nipple system is that it is quite resistant to bacterial growth, unlike the septic soup that most open waterers quickly become. I cannot recommend strongly enough that backyard chicken keepers consider using a nipple watering system for their hens…” Dr. Mike Petrik, DVM, MSc.aka: The Chicken Vet
I raided my living room for a pillar candle holder to rig up this nipple drinker, which worked well, but it’s not as economical or as easy to find as a tomato cage stand.
Features of a Good Poultry Nipple Drinker Stand
- Height-adjustable for rapidly growing chicks.
- Small footprint. Won’t take up valuable floor square footage.
- Portable. Easily moved for brooder cleaning and relocation.
- Space available underneath to accommodate a water catchment to protect litter.
LET’S MAKE IT!
Take a galvanized wire tomato cage and turn it upside down. Bend the unfinished prongs over and secure to opposite side with wire or zip ties. Cover unfinished ends with electric tape or duct tape.
Hang the poultry nipple drinker from the new top of the tomato cage with wire, string, etc. Place a small container filled with litter underneath the drinker to catch any droplets of water the chicks may miss in their enthusiasm for consuming a clean beverage. Empty catch basin regularly. Never hang anything heavy from this stand that could cause the cage to bend and/or fall.