Enter the best invention for safe clean water for chickens, since, well, I don't know what. Anyway, let's just say the watering nipple is a really great solution to the "clean water for chickens" problem. But then another problem arises with the solution, because as with many things in this life, there are far too many choices to chose from.
The Tyranny of Choice
- 180 or 360 degree nipples dictate the flow rate of the water coming from the nipple.
- 360 large amount of water for large beaked birds like geese
- Horizontal, or Vertical mounting
and they boast no leaks, provided they are installed correctly of course. As far as water pressure, it can only handle anywhere from 1 to 8 psi. A pressure regulator will be needed if you want a continuous on demand supply.
- Vertical nipples are gravity fed, which means these can only be mounted beneath
a bucket, bottle or pipe. They tend to leak more readily than the horizontal
nipples, especially if they are not mounted correctly, or have debris stuck inside
the housing. Also, these nipples can only take 1 to 8 psi, that means you can't
hook your hose to the bucket or PVC pipe unless you want a sprinkler system
in your coop or run.
Each of these nipples can service 1 to 4 birds, some say more. I went into over kill, and put 4 nipples in my waterer, and amazingly, all five of them seem to use the same nipple! And each of these types can be mounted using several different types of reservoirs, either from a hanging bucket, or a PVC pipe mounted near a wall to save space. But these are not the end of your choices, read on and find out more...
However, like all plumbing fixtures, this thing has the potential to leak, and leak it will, if you don't install it correctly, believe me I know! Let me tell you all about it.
As a rookie chickener, I searched the typical sites like Youtube for tutorials on how to go about making my own chicken waterer using these nipples, and of course there were many such videos, and on each one, I saw someone demonstrating their own method of installing these nipples, in basically the same way, but with some variations. When I finally got around to purchasing the nipples, I realized why there were so many nipple installation methods. It's because most of these water dispensers don't come with instructions. Well, at least the ones I purchased from the feed store didn't come with instructions. I don't know about you dear reader, but I like instructions, especially since I hate construction, and that's because I'm not good at it. Even so, I was fairly confident (more like deluded) that after watching many of the Youtuber videos, that alone made me an expert! (Silly Hen!)
Oops, did I forget to mention....?
Wise-man or Genius?
Not All Chicken Nipples Are Created Equal
Push In w/ Grommet Nipple
The grey, or black grommet itself is removable from the neck of the red (or yellow) nipple, and is then inserted into the hole in the bottom of your chosen reservoir, in this case, a plastic water bottle. Most "experts" recommend a 3/8" (or 12/32" for you Algebra buffs) drill bit, but it wouldn't hurt to first try a 11/32" because it is better to make the hole slightly smaller, than too big. You can always remove material, but you can't put it back. a measly 1/32 of an inch may not seem to be a significant difference, but in the watery world of plumbing, it is a huge difference. The hole must be clean, or free of any burrs, to make a good seal and avoid damaging the grommet.
Now, simply push in the narrow, non-lipped end of the grommet into the hole until it "snaps" into place. Try not to twist, or push too hard, as this may tear or damage the grommet and will ruin the seal you are trying to create. Now inspect the grommet for tears, or puckers, which will show that the hole is too small, and will make inserting the actual nipple difficult, and also cause the undesired leakage.
Now, if it starts to leak from the metal toggle, and not from around the grommet and hole of the container, then possibly there is some grit, or dirt that got into the innards of the nipple. The debris will lodge between the ball bearing and the toggle, breaking the 'seal' between the ball bearing and the inner gasket, and allowing water to pass through, it doesn't take that much, even a tiny grain of sand. Since
Screw In Nipple
Chose your water container wisely!
Now, if you will care to notice something basic that completely escaped me, and apparently the "experts", is that the type of container you use is very important when using this type of threaded nipple waterer. If you will also notice, this nipple has quite a bit of threads, and that IS very important. Why is that so important, you may ask?
Anyway, I saw that there would be enough threading exposed, if I added a thin rubber washer, and then I could use some sort of nut that would thread onto the nipple from the inside of the bucket. I figured non corrosive stainless steel nuts would do the trick. So off I went to the Home Depot a second (and thankfully last) time. I picked up the rubber washers I needed and headed for hardware to get the stainless steel nuts - so very logical, right? Wrong! Did you know dear reader, that there are different types of threading on screws, and bolts? I do now, thanks to the girl in hardware. We should all learn something new every day, wouldn't you agree? The type of threading on this nipple is a plumbing thread, not a hardware threading, since it deals with H2O, and this was one of those many "ah der" moments in my life. The nice man in the plumbing department then gave me the proper nut to "seal" the deal! In my case it was a 1/8" FIP (Female Iron Pipe) brass pipe coupling. That is the size and type of threading I needed.
Success at last! Even my husband was impressed with my solution, but too bad it cost me around 13 bucks! I would have saved 3 whole dollars if I used the silicone seals the nipples came with, oh well again!
Irremovable Screw In Nipple
Removable Screw In Nipple
Thankfully , my kitchen drain has a drain basket - whew! This is the model that comes with its own self-sealing silicone washer (note red arrow). If you want to go overboard and use the Teflon tape too, I wouldn't recommend it. It is one more hassle, and it will probably get in the way of the silicone washer's seal. And to be honest, I didn't look up to see if Teflon tape was safe to use, as Teflon has been known to kill birds, well, when it comes from the fumes of the cooking pans anyway.
Anyway, what I have learned through this experience is that there are a lot of choices out there, but as a consumer, you have to educate yourself very well, before you make your choice and purchase your nipple of choice, that is if you want to avoid costly and frustrating mistakes.
If you completely understand what type of nipple will work best for the type of water container you will be using for your situation, then your decision will be made much easier, as I hope I have made it clear, not all nipples work with all containers, and are not all the same in construction and quality of materials.
Cheers, fellow newbie chickener!