Factors that Affect Poultry Water Consumption
Water is considered a nutrient. Good water is vital to proper growth. Adding nutrients has an effect on water intake, water line cleanliness, and chicken broiler weights and gains. Other issues in chicken production include making sure that the birds have the right amount of water and water’s effect in evaporative water cooling systems. How good the water is has a large influence on drinker figures, the evaporate cooling system and in most cases, the chickens digestive system and chickens health. The correct use of nipple drinker lines is a subject on it's own, and this includes variables such as water pressure, the nipple drinker height and also nipple drinker line cleanliness. The chickens water intake is important to performance. It is critical to ensure that the chicken is able to access clean, good water at all times during the cycle. Many farms ignore this most basic fact, trusting municipal water or their borehole water. Header tanks should be checked for debris at the end of every cycle. The kettle in your home (if you live on the farm) will indicate the type of water you have. You will often find lime or other build up in your kettle. Small stones being pulled up from your borehole will block your nipple lines and create a drop in pressure.
Good Water supply and availability
Too much pressure or to little e pressure will affect your nipple lines.Your water sources should supply about 45-55 liters per minute per house but depends on the fan capacity, size of the cooling pad and number of chickens in your house. When adequate water is available make sure your plumbing is correct so as not to bottle neck the water between the header tank, the house and the chickens. Proper water filters are used and correctly sized and regularly changed so that the right water pressure is maintained when supplying water to the nipple drinkers or bell drinkers. The regulators must be checked regularly. Pressure gauges are good to check the water filters and water regulators performance. At least three water pressure gauges should be used - one before the filter, one after the filter and one on the water line where it comes into the chicken house. Pushing the nipples in down the length of the nipple drinking line is a good way of checking the pressure and supply. This should be done quite regularly. If your house is on a slope - your pressure will be too much and the nipples at the end of the line will leak. You will need an Impex slope regulator - this will compensate for any difference in height from one end of the house to the other. Over a 150m house the pressure can really build up on a small slope.
Drinker line height and it's effects on water consumption
A very common issue seen in broiler chicken production is the nipple water line height. The water line height can change litter dryness. If the poultry drinker lines are too low, the litter will get too wet (causing that ammonia smell - and foot infections in the chicken), whilst if the line is too high the chickens will struggle to reach the nipples on the drinker lines and the shavings could become too dry - especially in places that have a low relative humidity - this will also increase dust and debris in the air.(Aerial particulate matter) in the chicken house. All poultry drinker manufacturers have instructions on the correct nipple drinker drinker height and water pressures relating to chickens size and age. Experimentation and observation will help you determine what works best in you houses. Studies in commercial chicken houses have shown that having the nipple drinker line heights differ in the same poultry house will influence which nipple lines ones are most used. Chicken broilers will change to the low lines (easy to access) and use them more than nipple lines that are higher - So the best advice is to keep the nipple water lines at the same height in the chicken house. It has also been noted that the use of different brands of nipple line (in the same house) will cause the birds to have a preference. This causes bunching around the preferred nipple lines. This is possibly caused by some nipples releasing water more easily than others. Some farmers claim that it is the color of the nipples - I am not so sure about that. When tests were done with Impex nipples in one house and Val nipple lines in another house, the results were exactly the same. When mixing the lines in one house the results dropped slightly in the initial growing period.
Drinker Cleaning and Chemicals
Incorrect use of poultry line drinker chemicals and disinfectants can also drop the water intake. High levels of chlorine have been linked to lower chicken water intake. It has been assumed that the reason chickens drink less water is because of to taste. Proper care should be taken to use commercial products and chemicals according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Remember that if you are farming organic poultry you will not be able to use most of these chemical products. Also check with the drinker equipment manufacturer to ensure that the solution is good for use with your brand of poultry drinking equipment.
Other factors that affect water intake
Nutrition can have an effect on water consumption. Too much salt in the food will cause the birds to drink more. (old trick to get you weights up before catching). Changes in the house, loud unusual noises, and change of routine can all affect the chickens water consumption. Temperature influences water consumption. Chickens who have heat stress will drink more water than chickens with normal body temperatures. This extra water consumption may be a reflex to panting - dehydration, or if the water is cool, it may help lower body temperature. The health of chickens can also have an effect on water consumption.
Chickens affected with enteritis issues, which is linked with loose droppings, have been seen to drink extra water. Chickens reacting to vaccines have been seen to drink less water. Water quality has always been thought to affect chickens water intake but the contaminants in the waters supply are not usually taken into account. Some research at the University of Arkansas shows that the water pH had little or no impact on the water intake. Research at the University of Georgia shows that manganese, iron, and or nitrates alone did not drop water intake but a combination's of these 3 did have a bad effect on the poultry performance.
Monitoring daily water intake can give us useful information on how the chickens are performing and help to find issues with the drinker system. Broiler chicken water consumption is shown in the Graph. It should increase in a linear form through the growing period.
Does the flavor of water impact on poultry water consumption? If the water isn’t bitter or has bad tasting bacterial growth (mainly from the iron and sulfur bacteria) or no excess of water purifier, the chickens were probably pretty OK about the taste. Some growers had suggested flushing the lines every day to see if that would help to stimulate water intake. Even though borehole water is used, flushing the nipple water lines every day, showed that the birds drink very well shortly after the flushing process.
Poultry is more sensitive to the taste of liquids rather than food and when chickens are given different things to drink, they mostly took to an acidic taste rather than a sweet taste - this clears up why they like vinegar. Chickens seem to really taste the water whilst humans sense water as having no taste. Chickens will not drink saccharine mixtures but will drink sugary solutions. Poultry will not drink water that is a degree or 2 warmer than their own body temperature but will drink water that was almost at freezing temperature. Researchers have tested a whole range of flavors and found that chickens did not like some flavors such as molasses and honey, but would over time, begin to take to other flavors like butterscotch and coconut.
When chickens refuse to drink properly during the beginning periods they do not achieve the weight gains they should and feed efficiency during this critical growth phase. Over time, though, the birds will accept the water “taste” and begin to make up for lost time. Coaching a few chickens at the nipple will cause other birds to follow quite quickly.
Poultry drinking systems and the effects of various factors when raising chickens.
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