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Tips on water/feed systems for chickens — The Grow Network Community
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Tips on water/feed systems for chickens

maimovermaimover Posts: 342 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Birds (Land Fowl & Waterfowl)

Does anyone have any good ideas or links for water/feed systems for their chicks? My brother-in-law has chickens years ago (he had a great system) but I can’t quite remember well enough to get a good starting point.


  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,771 admin

    We like a suspended pail/bucket with water nipples attached. The water stays clean and as long as your pail is full, the chickens always have access to clean water. We have downward facing ones. Some get side mounted nipples.

  • bcabrobinbcabrobin Posts: 228 ✭✭✭

    Some of our ducks came with this. It worked good going into winter, I had corn, feed and oats layered in. I think it fit 5 50# bags. It worked till the sheep figured out the gate and they got in and ate it. I will never put oats in their feed again they just wasted it. We don't give them as much feed as they want in the spring/summer so we'll do it again next fall for winter.

  • gardneto76gardneto76 Posts: 312 ✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning did you start with the bucket style of watering system? I have a hanging water old style container and it seems to drip. I want to change to a bucket with nipples but I am afraid my chickens will not understand how to use it and will go without water. We will be hitting 90’s - 100’s this week so no water is not an option for them.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,771 admin

    No we didn't. It doesn't take them long to figure it out. Even chicks figure it out. The base of the nipple is usually red, and chickens peck at red. Then the figure out that's where the water is. It works really well.

    If you are concerned, watch them for a bit. I no longer worry about if they will learn or not.

    Make sure that it is hung in such a way that they peck upwards, but not hung too high. Make sure the shortest chicken can reach it.

    I want to try Solway spiral feeders. They sound good, but aren't available in Canada. I would like to hear of a "real" person that has tried those.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 707 ✭✭✭✭

    When we used the nipple watering system we had been giving our chickens raisins occasionally and they really loved them. We started putting raisins below it and also on the tips of the nipples. They were so eager for the raisins they went after them quickly and in doing so figured out it was a water source quickly as well. Never had an issue getting them to drink this way. Maybe it would help if you try the nipple watering system.

  • maimovermaimover Posts: 342 ✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning I did see that type but I think maybe felt a little apprehensive about then figuring out as probably @gardneto76 did. Good to hear that when the chicks can learn. @vickeym great idea with the raisins. @bcabrobin is that a trash can with spouts? Thank you guys so much. Hopefully we can work on the feeding situation this weekend.

  • dottile46dottile46 Posts: 429 ✭✭✭

    I saw a two-nipple adapter for an insulated water cooler like this.

    Just unscrew the spout and screw the water in. I think it was on cackle hatchery's website. It would keep the water cool and clean in the summer. Don't know if it would keep it from freezing in the winter or not. Probably somewhat depending on the temperature.

  • maimovermaimover Posts: 342 ✭✭✭

    @dottile46 this is a very cool idea; will check it out. Thanks

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 707 ✭✭✭✭

    LaurieLovesLearning Those spiral feeders look interesting, but must be for very small flocks. I would need way too many feeders with all my girls.

    We use around 6 foot lengths of 6 inch pvc pipe with a strip cut out on one side and caps attached to the ends. Attach ropes to hang it with and they can feed from the length of it. More get to eat at one time and less fussing over who gets to eat first.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,771 admin

    @vickeym How was the waste? I tried hanging feeders with my chicks (back height as they say) and they still managed to get feed everywhere. :( Kind of like my kids. 😆 I often tell not to feed the table. It isn't hungry.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 707 ✭✭✭✭

    OH yes, Some of them are very good at the waste. One of the things we have done was if there was quite a bit on the ground...we waited to feed the next day until they cleaned up at least most of what was on the ground. Not perfect, but we feed a lot of chickens and was a fairly inexpensive feeder for our situation.

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 741 admin

    I completely love my enclosed, heated, 3-gallon nipple watering system from Premier 1 (https://www.premier1supplies.com/p/heated-poultry-waterer?msclkid=474e3e7ea51414a3f62a60d99acca30a&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=(ROI)%20Shopping%20-%20Poultry%20%26%20Poultry%20Prep&utm_term=4584345023546394&utm_content=Poultry%20%26%20Poultry%20Prep). It was a splurge, for sure, but I love it so much. We're in Colorado, so the heated option is a huge gift during the winter and keeps me from having to haul water out there a couple of times per day. I started with chickens with the traditional open waterer set up, but the chickens get everything so dirty from their scratching (even when the waterers were set up fairly high on blocks), so having a closed system is SO AMAZING. No more cleaning poop out of waterers, and I like that very much. :)

    When I set mine up, I used sunflower seeds like @vickeym mentioned using raisins. Didn't take long. Really, you just need one bird to figure it out, and then everyone else will learn from her and follow suit.

    I have looked into self-filling watering systems (like The Chicken Fountain, but it looks like they are no longer manufacturing that one), but our ground freezes down to 3 feet in the winter, and I've never been able to figure out how to make a system like that work for me in winter. (If anyone has that worked out, let me know! :) ) So, the Premier 1 waterers it is....

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 741 admin

    Having this same problem with one of my feeders right now. It's a 5-gallon feeder, and I've switched feed to a local mix. I have some Buckeyes who make an absolute mess of the feed in this feeder -- just scatter it everywhere, I assume trying to pick out the goodies they want. I didn't have this problem nearly as much when I was feeding crumbles. I am doing the same thing as @vickeym and waiting an extra day to feed them once the feeders are empty to try to encourage them to eat the feed off the coop floor. I also have a 2-gallon feeder that hangs and that they don't seem to do the same thing with. (The 5-gallon feeder is just broken enough to not stay together if I tried to hang it, but it does fine sitting on risers.) In the end, I may just need to get another one of those smaller feeders so that it's harder for them to root around in.

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 741 admin
  • SuperCSuperC Cook at Wahlburgers The Frozen Tundra in the Northern MidwestPosts: 366 ✭✭✭

    Could you turn a copala upside down to use to put the water or feed into so the chickens can eat out of it? They are on the rooftop of large barns.

    Use PVC pipes 2” in diameter coming straight down then an elbow curve at the bottom. Pour the feed into them at the top opening (with a funnel) and the chicks can eat merrily from the elbows holding the feed at the bottom. The elbow piece prevents the feed from just falling out. I learned this technique in a Permaculture course.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,771 admin
    edited April 2020

    We have tried the vertical PVC pipe idea. You need a little roof over the eating area so that the feed doesn't get wet where they feed. We found that ours still wasted feed anyway.

    We had one hanging feeder that seemed to work okay until the hanger part unscrewed. I am a little hesitant to try the horizontal PVC feeder in case the chickens decide to roost there, but it might be worth trying anyway.

    Maybe the bucket idea would work okay now. When I first saw this idea, we had rats that had hitched a ride here, so it wasn't an option & Iforgot about it. They are now all gone. Maybe it is time to try it. Thanks for reminding me, @teachercaryn

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 707 ✭✭✭✭

    bcabrobin Great idea, thank you for sharing.

    Merin Porter Thank you for sharing the link. Just went and checked it out. Sending info to my husband so he can make some. lol

  • mcarryonmcarryon Posts: 32 ✭✭✭

    I always use suspended waterer. Otherwise, you will be changing it all of the time. Chickens don't climb on these.

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 311 ✭✭✭

    Hi, here's a pic of our system.

    The birds quickly learned how to use the nipples. It saves us time. We fill the waterer and feeder about every other day. It keeps their food and water clean, poo free.

    I add a splash of acv once a week.

    Both pvc tubes have a slip fit that's not glued for easy cleaning. We've had farm sisters mux up the tubes. The water tube had food...a little gross. Haha but cleanable

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 707 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2020

    @LaurieLovesLearning One of the things we did with the long horizontal PVC feeder to keep them from roosting on it was the piece we cut out from the top length of it, we drilled holes in each end of that piece and rand a cord through it. It would slide up to get out of our way when filling it. I used clamps or clothes pins to hold it up while I filled the tube, then removed them to drop it back down. Had knots in the cord to hold that piece a few inches above the open feed portion so they could get their heads in their to eat but it discouraged them from roosting on top and they were not able to get in the feed dish and scratch. There was still a little waste, but not nearly as much as with the open feeder.

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