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Antibiotic-free production demands extra attention for water hygiene

Consumers all over the world start to worry about the use of antibiotics in livestock production and their effect on human health. Antibiotic free chicken start to become a standard of supermarkets and restaurants. To produce chickens without antibiotics, producers have to pay more attention to maintaining flock health and bio-security. Water hygiene is an important part of it and I-Flush supports this.

The fear for antibiotic resistance in human health stimulate more and more governments to put a ban on the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) in livestock production. Such a ban requires immediate action to prepare producers on how to grow chickens without the use of antibiotics. The most important issue here is maintaining optimal bio-security in and around poultry houses. Once receiving healthy chicks it is the duty of the producer to keep them healthy by preventing contact to disease causing pathogens. He has to consider all the different ways pathogens can be brought into the chicken house. Water, feed, rodents, wild birds, insects, personnel, farm-equipment and the young chickens themselves are all potential factors. Without AGPs there is no final line of defence so pathogens have to be stopped before they get into the bird by improving bio-security all around, including the inner parts of the watering system.

Securing water quality

Generally birds consume 1.6-2 times more water than feed per day. If that water is contaminated, the flock will suffer from gut health problems and poor performance. The recommended maximum level of bacteria in drinking water is 100cfu/litre. With the introduction of nipple waterers, to replace trays and troughs in which bacteria could proliferate, the industry made big progress in providing ‘clean’ drinking water. But still, modern watering systems can only be safely used when the water is free from disease causing organisms and the lines are kept clean. The main danger here is that in the plastic pipework harmful biofilms can build up. These biofilms act as nucleus for infectious organisms which can be spread by the water.

To maximise bio-security poultry farmers should use effective water sanitisers to keep their water lines free from biofilms. In antibiotic free production it is a must to regularly check the hygiene of the original water sources as well as to fully clean the pipework and drinking equipment between flocks. These cleaning procedures used to be time consuming, but nowadays it can be done easily by using Impex’s total automatic flushing solution ‘I-Flush’. It has pre-set flushing programs for all poultry drinking systems and causes no water or medicine wastage.

Detecting biofilm formation

I-Flush total hygiene solution consists of an I-Control flush computer, a pressure regulator and an end air outlet set. The computer controls flushing and therewith the total hygiene in the drinking system. Individual sensors in the drinking lines register the necessary information and relay this to the computer which will than act accordingly. The settings can be customized to meet the individual flush preferences while during medication the program can be interrupted to prevent the wastage of medicines. An optional biofilm sensor detects dirty water and biofilm by means of light and indicates the pollution level. When the preset maximum level is exceeded the lines will automatically be flushed. The same happens when the temperature sensor indicates that the preset maximum water temperature in the drinking lines is reached or when the temperature difference between the water supply line and the drinking line is too high.

In case the cloudiness of the water does not dissolve during flushing or the water temperature stays beyond what is allowed it may in rare cases happen that the preset maximum number of flushing rounds will be reached. This maximum number is set to prevent excessive flushing. When exceeding this number the computer will emit an alarm indicating that additional action is required.

These new labour saving tools help producers to assure the delivery of safe and fresh drinking water to the birds. And that is, no doubt, an asset for birds to grow and perform well in an antibiotic free environment.