Poultry Nipples And Water Pressure In Chicken Waterers

Background on Water Pressure & Commercial Poultry Watering Systems

Commercial poultry watering systems generally draw water from the municipal water supply. Since municipal water is delivered under high pressure, commercial watering systems incorporate water pressure regulators to reduce the water pressure to a level that allows the poultry nipples used in these commercial systems to operate effectively.  

Specifically, the water pressure needs to be reduced to under 1 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch of pressure) for the poultry nipples to operate effectively -- a major reduction in water pressure from the typical water pressure of 20-100 PSI that is delivered by municipal water pipes.

Simplified Diagram of a Typical Commercial Poultry Watering System

Watering Devices For Small-Scale Poultry Owners

Poultry nipple watering systems such as the BriteTap chicken nipple waterer provide an inexpensive alternative to commercial poultry watering systems because they eliminate the pressure regulator. Rather than drawing water from the municipal water supply pipe that is under high pressure, water is drawn from a water supply tank.

The water pressure in a tank system depends on water level in the tank. The higher the water is filled, the greater the pressure. It is possible to know the water pressure in your poultry watering system by simply measuring the height of the water column. For example, if the water is filled to 12 inches above the poultry nipples, then the water pressure created by this depth of water is 0.43 PSI, well below the 1 PSI maximum for poultry nipples.

Using the same method, it's easy to determine the water level that would create 1 PSI - the maximum pressure for which poultry nipples are rated. This turns out to be 28 column inches of water.

Below is a table that shows the water pressure level at various water column heights.

Posting sponsored by ChickenWaterer.com, makers of the BriteTap automatic poultry waterer. The BriteTap waterer shields water from dirt and poop. The water stays clean and there are no messy pans for you to wash out.


  1. Would it be possible to lower the pressure in my tank by adding a sponge at the inlet?

    1. No. The pressure is a function of the height of the water column. Adding a sponge will not change tthe overall water pressure pushing on all objects at the bottom of the tank. The sponge would absorb the same pressure and it would push agains the water on the other side of the tank with exactly the same force -- kind of like dominoes hitting each other.

  2. I've tried keeping the head below 2 feet and I still get wet litter. The recommended pressure for nipples is 1/4 psi, so I think a regulator is still advisable.

    1. The birds will get some water on the ground, but if the litter is super wet it probably is a sign that you installed the valves improperly and they are leaking.

  3. Is it possible to use a rain barrel to supply water for the chicken nipples if used at approximately ground level, will the .434 head pressure still be the same when working to move water up to the nipples? i.e. as long as the water is no more than 28 inches above the nipples, will it supply the same pressure...say the barrel is opening is 4 inches off the ground, water has to travel up another 8 inches for nipples, will I have enough pressure (1psi) if I fill the barrel to a level 36 inches? Or is there a pressure difference to overcome when water moves up the pipe?

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. You can use any container as a water tank. The distance from the tank to the ground also makes no difference. The water pressure is a function of the height of the water column -- the distance from the bottom of the tank to whatever height in inches you fill the tank. The water pressure in a test tube filled with 4 inches of water is the same as the water pressure in a 50 gallon drum filled with 4 inches of water because the height of the water column in both containers is the same -- 4 inches.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts