DIY Simple Chicken Waterer

Poultry nipples are metal and plastic valves that dispense a drop of water when they are pecked.  They provide an economical way to provide fresh, clean water to your chickens on a continuous basis.  This not only saves the producer time, but also helps ensure the health of your flock.  As any experienced backyard chicken owner knows, keeping a clean water source is a tedious process involving cleaning out the waterers at least once every day.  Chicken nipples can be threaded into the bottom of a 2 or 5 gallon bucket, as we have done here, or you can rig up more complex systems attached to PVC pipe.


  • Bucket
  • Drill
  • Drill bit, size 11/32
  • Teflon tape
  • Threaded chicken nipples (We did our research here and found that not all chicken nipples are created equal.  Many are of lesser quality, and frustrated reviewers talked about how much they leaked, leading to wet bedding and unsanitary conditions in the chicken coop.  We found ours here, and we are very pleased with the quality and the price:
  • S-hook and chain (or some method to securely hang the bucket)


Drill 11/32” size holes in the bottom of your bucket.  (Confirm the necessary size of your holes from your particular nipple supplier).  Each chicken nipple will provide enough water for 10-12 chickens.  We choose to drill 3 holes, which is more than adequate for our number of chickens. 


Use 2 rounds of Teflon tape around the threads of the chicken nipple.  As per our supplier, this step was optional.  We decided to go ahead with the Teflon tape, and we have been pleased to find our chicken nipples don’t leak at all.  Hand screw each chicken nipple tight into its hole.  Using a bit of pressure here will help to fully secure the valve into the hole.  If necessary, you can use a socket wrench to help.



Securely hang the bucket so that the bottom of the bucket is about 18” off the ground for full-grown chickens.  Make certain your hanging system is secure!  You don’t want the bucket falling off and breaking a poor, thirsty chicken’s neck.  The chickens will stand under the bucket and reach up to peck the valves and get water.  

We found our chickens needed no training to learn how to use the new water system.  We simply took away their old metal waterer and then kept an eye on them to make sure they got the hang of the new system.  We installed our new chicken waterer late one evening, and by the next morning they had figured it out.


A few additional advantages to this type of waterer are:

  • Since a food-grade plastic bucket is being used, the addition of apple cider vinegar to the water won't corrode the container as it would a metal waterer.
  • A lid can be attached to the bucket to reduce evaporation and keep debris from drifting into your bucket.
  • A bucket is easier to fill than a tradition metal waterer and can be configured to your specific requirements and coop arrangement.  Automatic filling also becomes easier to set up (the next project).

Other Considerations:

  • For areas that have freezing temperatures, the nipple spouts may easily freeze and crack, so special attention should be taken of weather conditions and placement of the waterer.
  • Periodic checks of the nipples should be done to ensure water is flowing and that they are not clogged.  This can be especially important where water is high in sediment or builds up mineral deposits.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Cool, I just ordered some nipples to try.

I have to get a couple of those! Man, watering those birds takes up more of my time than anything else I do around the house… Cleaning those yukky water dispensers is getting old!
Thanks for the instruction, I'm gonna try it!

So far this watering system is working great.  A lot of time is being saved by not having to change water on a daily basis.
A few observations:

  • lids are a must for 2 reasons. 1) keeps the bucket in the right shape (starting to sag and pull in a bit from hanging)  2) lid keeps leaves and other stuff from fouling up the water (or when a chicken tries to roost on the edge of the bucket).

  • installation of a lip or raiser (wooden feet a little taller than the poultry nipple) on the bottom of the bucket will allow you to put the bucket down on the ground to allow for cleaning and filling without putting pressure on the nipples and causing damage to the valve or seal. 

We bought our chicks at Atwoods and they had smaller version in with their poultry.  These should really save a lot of time and mess.

Great idea. Found some on amazon prime    
     …do these look the like they would work? My grandma always said that "not all poultry nipples are the same". About 25 cents each in lots of 50.