Poultry water treatments and Salmonella prevalence in broilers - Brian Fairchild

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Dr. Beny Perelman Dr. Beny Perelman
DVM, Specialist in Poultry Diseases and Management, Ostrich Medicine Expert
June 23, 2018
Control of salmonella through acidification of drinking water is only one of many steps to be taken to really control Salmonella in chickens.
Acidified water specially with organic acids and a pH lower than 4 may prevent replication of Salmonella in the water system and pipes but in most cases has no effect at all at the gut level.
there is some misunderstanding about the way this acidification is going to affect Salmonella replication in the gut. it is important to recognize that the pH in the proventriculous is already about 2.4-2.8 !!. chickens do not like to drink water at pH lower than 3.5 specially with organic acids. Any acidificacion of the water reaching a ph of 3.5-4.0 will only reduce replication in the water itself but has no effect after it goes after the crop and reaches the proventriculous and gizzard were the pH is already much lower.
the moment any acid added reaches the duodenum the feed and any water get a pH of more than 7 as the pH of the bile and the duodenum content is more than 8 at some levels so any acidification is neutralized at this level in the gut.
only by using protected or coated organic acids such as butiric protected formula the acid will
reach the lower parts of the intestine and be released there to reduce the levels of salmonella.to much belief is put on the effect of water acidification to control Salmonella at the gut level.
June 25, 2018

Dr. Beny Perelman

While you are correct that organic acids will not affect the pH of the gut directly, except in the crop, and maybe the slightly more basic micro-environments within the proventriculus/gizzard immediately after a big meal. That does not mean there is no effect in the gut at all.

Take formic acid for example. At the normal pH of feed, it will fully dissociate from HCOOH to HCOO- + H+. Once the formate enters into the proventriculus, the far higher acidity of the endogenous HCl dissociating into Cl- + H+ will result in formate reverting to formic acid (HCOO- + H+ to HCOOH). The undissociated formic acid (HCOOH) is now a small, non-polar (extremely) short chain fatty acid. It can diffuse across the membrane of bacterial cells by simple diffusion along a concentration gradient (High formic acid outside, to low formic acid inside). Once inside the cell, where the pH is more neutral, the formic acid will re-dissociate into HCOO- + H+ and thus acidify the cytosol of the bacteria. The acidified cell will then need to expend energy attempting to address this deviation from homeostasis. Enough formate diffusion, and the cell will die.

I have a video on youtube that describes this mechanism and provides examples from the literature to support. This is why organic acids are preferable to inorganic acids for feed and water acidification. the inorganic acids are stronger (drive pH lower, faster), but they cannot acidify inside cell without something to disrupt their cell membranes. Formic (and other organic acids) do not require this disruption.


As for the hind gut, you are spot on. The intracellular acidification I describe basically occurs in the proventriculus/gizzard only. That is where the host HCl can drive reformation of HCOOH. Everywhere after that (with the possible exception of at the acidic microenvironment of the brush border membrane), the formic exists as HCOO-. Although, I do not believe that the effect of protected butyric is as an acid so much as it is the result of it being a preferential energy source of enterocytes. it is important to get butyric to the hind gut to support the host cells there, not so much to inhibit growth of bacteria. In vitro work shows that butyrate is actually not that good at inhibiting bacteria (MIC 9 to 10x that of formic, for example). Many protected butyric products actually use a butyrate salt. Salts of organic acids have no acidification potential at all, so any reported benefits cannot be the result of pH change.

June 23, 2018

Joshua jendza, well explained in biochemistry language. Nice.

Slausgalvis Virginijus Slausgalvis Virginijus
Veterinary Doctor
June 24, 2018

Thank you, Beny. Absolutely agree with you that we overestimate "effect of water acidification to control Salmonella". Water treatment is necessary but just one of many action steps in Salmonella control program.

Onwuka A. Onwuka Onwuka A. Onwuka
Quality Assurance Lab. Analyst
June 27, 2018
At present, I am using administering Formi-NDF on broilers and layers and have not experienced coccidiosis on my birds. This substance contains sodium formate and formic acid but it is hygroscopic. The acidic nature helps prevent favourable environment for bacteria and other microbes.
June 28, 2018

Salmonella-infected flock, how to reduce it?

Hiren Pancholi Hiren Pancholi
Graduation in commerce
June 29, 2018

Water Treatment with stabilized CLO2 is more effective. It works under wide Ph range of from 3 to 10. It is superior to chlorine when Ph is above 7. It does not hydrolyze in water so its germicidal activity is constant over wide Ph range.
It is effective on bacteria, spores, virus, fungus and Algae (bio-film).
It does not change the taste of water.

Christian Lückstädt Christian Lückstädt
Animal Nutritionist
July 4, 2018

I can only agree that one tends to overestimate the impact of water acidification in Salmonella control. Sure, it is one part of the concept to combat Salmonella. At least in Europe, the chances of introducing Salmonella into broilers via feed and water are minimal. That doesn't mean that biosecurity measures in those vectors shall be neglected (we are using formic acid based acidifiers in the drinking water of birds till we reach pH 4.5, in order to ensure an inhibition of bacteria growth in the water and pipes itself), but it shows from our point of view the importance of using steps/tools/additives to help the gut of the bird to reach a state of eubiosis. And in this regard, ADDCON has been working with diformates over a number of years (Mr. Onwuka commented on one of those (Formi NDF) in his post) in order to minimize/inhibit Salmonella in poultry. Diformates (in contrast to free formic acid) had been able to demonstrate that they are able to reach the small intestine in relevant amounts (up to 85% of the overall active ingredient). Relevant Salmonella reduction on farm is never a quick-fix, but takes time and potentially several different steps, however, we are sure that the concept of using diformates (in this case sodium diformate) can help to reduce the Salmonella load in broiler, breeder and layer. For that task, we usually recommend a dosage of 3 kg/t.

July 6, 2018
Dear Sir

Please share how much concentration of that product both acids while you directly mentioned 3kgs/ton of feeds

July 10, 2018

I would like to come back to the topic of the title, which is related to water treatment and Salmonella prevalence. I think there is not a kind of a golden bullet and a strict biosecurity program including several strategies is key for preventing Salmonella outbreaks on farm level. Organic acids applied over the water and/or feed can be considered as part of such anti-Salmonella programs. Talking about water treatment, formic acid based products are typically used in the market. Advanced drinking water concepts have been developed over the years, however, only very limited organic acids products have been scientifically tested in drinking water against Salmonella in poultry. One exception is a unique blend (Activate WD Max) of organic acids with methionine hydroxy analogue. Previous studies have demonstrated a synergistically effects against Salmonella, when combining the hydroxy analogue with organic acids such as formic acid. Its usage in drinking water has shown a reduction in horizontal transmission of salmonella in poultry flocks by a significant decrease of Salmonella in the cecal content together with a significant lower number of Salmonella-positive litter drag swabs. Typical inclusion rates are 0.5-1ml/liter drinking water.

July 12, 2018

Sir, my 30 days-old chicks reduce feed. Suggestion, please Sir. I am from Kashmir.

July 14, 2018


But my question is,

if Biofilm is present in the nipple lines & giving very high values of water samples
in Laboratory,


if we are doing ATP test on farm, giving very high RLU values for bacterial contamination in water.

Then, what should we do?

July 17, 2018

Dear Dr. Fuad, organic acid + inorganic acid (simply, water acidifier) can a little bit decrease pH of water, to prevent Salmonella population. But to remove biofilm, it is necessary to use more stronger acid plus hydrogen peroxide. This is waterpipe cleaning procedure. After these cleaning, necessary to wash pipes by fresh water and than continue to use organic acids. Cleaning is necessary to perform periodically, but if to use water acidifier, you can clean water pipes less often. Please to be careful with concentrated acids and hydrogen peroxide, and don't close pipes because pressure will highly increased during these cleaning.

Kasame Trakullerswilai Kasame Trakullerswilai
Bacheler of Veterinary Medicine
August 7, 2018

I heard using chlorine dioxide in the water can reduce the salmonella by continuous treatment and HMTBa 0.05% in the water 3-4 wks may reduce the salmonella in the gut and lower shedding but both cannot reduce 100% salmonella in the gut.

This is only 1 intervention and the last day before slaughtering may use organic acid for reducing salmonella load in the gut if pH 4.

August 13, 2018

Kasame Trakullerswilai

Chlorine dioxide efficacy will depend on the pH of the water. As long as the pH is sufficiently low "Yes" continuous chlorination can be helpful.

HMTBa is has a good pKa for water acidification (3.6), but it is a rather large molecule (150 g/mol) so the dose would need to be quite high relative to an acid with a similar pKa such as formic (pKa 3.77 and 46 g/mol).

As for the targeted application of organic acids. Transition points are important (placement, feed changes, feed withdrawal/outages, etc.), but a single day of application is likely, not adequate. 3 or 4 days would be a minimum around a transition point, with continuous acidification being preferable/more effective. It is also potentially simpler from a management perspective as workers don't have to remember to start acidification.

Kasame Trakullerswilai Kasame Trakullerswilai
Bacheler of Veterinary Medicine
August 30, 2018

Joshua Jendza

Thanks for suggestion.
Start with free salmonella of DOC, housing, feed and pest as well.

August 27, 2018
I need theses about drinking water poultry
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