Water sources available to chickens have been identified as important biosecurity concerns. Many foodborne pathogens can be spread throughout the flock via the drinking water. Protective measures need to be in place to reduce vulnerability for microbial infection. The USDA is actively pursuing means of reducing foodborne pathogens at the processing level. Currently, more emphasis is being placed at reducing harmful bacteria at the grower’s level.
Functions of water in poultry diets
It is imperative that commercial poultry have access to a clean healthy water supply. Young rapidly growing birds often consume twice as much water as they do feed.
Water not only serves as a nutrient, but it has other functions as well. Water softens the feed in the crop, serves as a carrier of feed moving through the digestive tract, and acts as an aid in several digestive processes. It is also a key component of blood and lymph that are vital for a healthy immune system.
Since water is such an important component to the bird’s bodily processes, it would make sense that the quality of the water should be just as important as the quantity. Drinking water should always be clean and free of microbial contaminants to ensure proper health and wellness.
Importance of sanitary chicken water lines
Over a period of time, any water delivery system will be affected by material build up and contamination. Lime, calcium, manganese, and iron will form scale. Rust, dirt, and algae will attach to the inside of water lines.
Water soluble additives used in poultry drinking water often contain sugar or sugar additives that can promote the growth of a biofilm inside the water line. It is the buildup of these materials on the inner surface of the service lines that will provide a place for microorganisms to take hold and multiply. Organic materials and additives will supply nutrients for microbial growth and will have a negative impact on medication and vaccines delivered through the water lines.
Every time the bird consumes water, it will become exposed to an ever increasing microbial load. Other negative effects of microbial growth include poor feed conversion, downgrading of carcasses, increased mortality and increased condemnation. This will affect the profitability of the poultry farmer.
Although flushing water lines between flocks is recommended, flushing cannot always remove the slime layer or biofilm of bacteria or algae
Sources of contamination in chicken water feeders
All water has some degree of contamination or impurities. Most of these have absolutely no baring effect on poultry performance or degradation of equipment. The goal of this program is to limit the potential of biological contamination and reduce the effects of hardness minerals that can effect the equipment. There are 3 points of entry for contaminants.
- Source Water. This can be community water, well water or surface water. Mineral scale such as calcium, magnesium, iron, or manganese will be found from the source water. The source water should be checked annually for microorganisms. If tested positive, continuous sanitation is highly recommended.
- Chemical Injectors / Medicators. Most farms have medicators with buckets used as a solution tank. Most of these do not have a lid and are rarely cleaned. Insects and organic debris which have bacteria or viruses on them can fall into these containers. So when medicators are used, microorganisms are then pumped into the drinking water lines. These medicators need to be properly maintained and solution tanks need to be cleaned periodically and covered at ALL times.
- Drinkers. Birds peck at fecal matter and eat insects. Microganisms then are transferred to the beak and eventually wind up on the chicken waterer nipples themselves. The low pressure chicken water feeders allow for partial backflow in which contaminants from the beak can enter the water system. This cannot be prevented; it can only be managed. Sanitation during the growout can minimize this risk.
Source: More information and tips on healthy chicken water can be found at http://www.Intec-America.com