|a hen using the new system|
Once you set your mind to it, this is actually quite a quick and simple project that will save you time and water. Don’t delay it like we did, just gather your materials and get building!
|our new chicken-nipple watering system
(the log is there to put in the door when the chickens are free-ranging so that Bella doesn't shut them out)
Chicken nipples – $2-3 each, plastic or stainless steel (we used the plastic ones for the first system and then bought some steel ones for the rest, because then Pete could weld them).
Manifold material – can be any pipe, or even box section (RHS), stainless or pvc or irrigation pipe are best for water quality. Ask your local plumber for offcuts of PVC pipe or try the dump-shop. Gavin has a good example of a plastic system over at the Greening of Gavin.
Hose and fittings – any suitably sized hose to connect the manifold to the reservoir, and all the fittings you need to make this happen.
Water reservoir – a closed container is better, but not completely sealed or the water won’t flow, we used a 15 L plastic jerry can with a tap fitting at the bottom and the lid cracked open. We paid $5 for our jerry cans from the local market, they were used previously for cordial, so ask around in places that might buy bulk cordial, you should be able to find something secondhand. Ideally you don't want light to get to the water, or you will get algal growth, but a clear container makes it easier to see the water level. We used a clear container and I made a cover from an old t-shirt.
The nipples can be simply pushed into a suitable sized hole drilled into the manifold, but Peter was keen and tapped the hole so that they screw in and seal well. Then set up your connection to the reservoir. Peter welded on another piece of pipe to connect the manifold to a hose, but if you’re using plastic you will have to buy the appropriate fittings to build the shape you need. Then just use the hose to connect the reservoir to the manifold. Its surprisingly easy to set up really.
|Here's Roosty using the nipple, he got really excited and pecked it over and over|
I was worried that our chickens would not know how to use the new system. I thought they might all die of thirst, but I was wrong. Even the rooster figured it out within a few minutes and was excitedly tapping away at one of the nipples. When we installed the manifold, we had already filled it with water to test it, so water got spilt all down the side of the cage, and the chickens pecked all the drops of water off the mesh and then the drops off the manifold, and somehow found that pecking the nipples made more water come out. Pretty smart for bird-brains!
We haven’t tried it on the guinea fowl yet, that will be the real test!
Isn’t it expensive?
If you look around for some reclaimed items, the only things that you HAVE to buy new is the nipples and maybe some fittings and hose (so that it doesn’t leak). The total cost of our first system was $5 for the jerry can and $1 for the tap, because we had all the other bits lying around. If we’d had to buy everything I think it would still have been around $20, which is pretty cheap for the convenience of not topping up those water buckets every day!