Drinking Water Quality for Poultry

Published on: 11/19/2013
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Providing a clean, safe and sanitized water supply is crucial in assuring flocks perform their best. Factors which impact drinking water quality include source or water supply, presence of natural contaminants such as minerals, pH, water distribution system, use of water additives including vitamins, electrolytes, probiotics and antibiotics. Water supplies are dynamic and can change therefore it is important to monitor supplies to assure quality does not deteriorate. Naturally occurring contaminants such as iron as well as water additives such as electrolytes, vitamins, probiotics and acids can promote microbial growth in water systems which may not be beneficial to bird performance. Maintaining water quality involves testing supplies to identify both mineral and microbial challenges. 

Drip samples can be pulled from the source and from the poultry barn. Comparing the results can help identify if contamination is occurring and needs to be addressed. Swab samples of water systems are very useful in identifying if biofilms are present which will be an indicator that systems need thorough cleaning. Daily water sanitation programs are an excellent tool in reducing health challenges introduced to flocks through the water system. Before implementing a daily water sanitation program, it is important to thoroughly clean as much of the water distribution system as possible. Proper line cleaning is critical for optimal success with water sanitation programs and it requires utilizing the proper products injected into the water systems at the appropriate concentrations and then allowed to sit in the lines adequate time to assure effectiveness.

Swab systems pre and post cleaning to determine how well the job was done. Once the system is clean there are several options for daily water sanitation which include chlorine, hydrogen peroxide and chlorine dioxide. There is some indication that it may be beneficial to rotate sanitation products particularly on operations which have consistent health challenges that may be associated with the water supplies. Lastly, water usage by broilers has significantly increased in the last 10 years and it is important to assure that water systems can meet demand for optimal growth.

This is a summary of Dr. Susan Watkins´presentation at AMEVEA, Peru 2013. 

Dr. Susan Watkins is Professor/Extension Specialist at the University of Arkansas. Her Research Areas are Broiler and turkey production, Evaluation of drinking water acidifier and sanitation products, Conduct applied research and demonstrations with new equipment and products.
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