Water Quality for Broiler Chickens

One of the best ways to prevent disease and optimize performance in your broiler operation is to make sure your water supply is clean and waterlines are in good condition. Feed and water consumption are strongly correlated, and water consumption can be an indicator of flock health and performance. Water quality also has a direct impact on biosecurity.

A contaminated water supply is one of the fastest ways to introduce disease pathogens into a chicken house. However, clean water has little value if it is being delivered to the birds via a waterline system containing pathogens housed within biofilm and layers of mineral deposits. Waterlines are an ideal environment for biofilm formation, and on-bird water sanitizers are ineffective at penetrating and removing biofilm once it has formed. A recent study published in BMC microbiology suggested that close to two-thirds of drinking lines in broiler facilities could be contaminated with biofilm.

Waterlines

Each area of the country has different ground water quality. Having your water tested periodically ensures that it is within an acceptable pH range, contains an acceptable amount of minerals and nutrients, and has not become contaminated by pathogens.

Micronutrients and metals can cause problems in waterlines. One example is Iron. Small levels of iron are typically safe for birds. However, iron can encourage bacterial growth, which causes biofilms to form. Probiotics and organic acids and other products applied through the water can also cause biofilms to form.  Products used to acidify water can be beneficial but also encourage the formation of biofilms, making it important to disinfect your waterlines between flocks.

Water Management Tips:

  • Have your water tested regularly
  • Maintain an adequate flow of fresh, cool water
  • Flush waterlines regularly
  • Disinfect waterlines between flocks using a product proven to remove biofilm and kill bacteria

Disinfection

Using an on-bird water sanitizer may reduce bacteria growth in the water and drastically improve water quality, however; on-bird water sanitizers are ineffective at penetrating and removing biofilms. Complete water quality programs are designed to prevent the spread of disease pathogens and maintain water palatability through on-bird water treatment and terminal waterline disinfection. Terminal waterline disinfection can eliminate harmful pathogens, preventing the spread of disease from one flock to the next.

Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 and Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution is an EPA registered product specifically designed to kill bacteria and penetrate and remove biofilm from animal drinking lines.*

By ensuring a safe and clean water supply, we are not only protecting our birds from disease, but we are also putting our best foot forward to enhance feed consumption and performance.

About Megan Macy

* The content provided on this webpage is provided for informational purposes only and does not supersede the product label requirements. Approved label claims may vary depending on geography, use site, organism, or other factors. Always refer to the product label for complete directions for use.
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