Bird welfare requires the best and most attractive nipple

30 maart 2015

For decades we have been told that red is the colour that attract chickens the most. For other drinker and drinking behaviour characteristics we too go by basic principles formulated in the past. Meanwhile, due to changes in light sources and practical experiences, it is questioned whether the old rules are valid.

Nipple colour and shape
As manufacturer of drinking water systems Impex is always looking for the best. Based on findings of the past we always made systems that met the ruling expectations. That included meeting the demand for nipple drinkers, making them according to the demands for the specific type of bird, providing nipples with different pin sizes and always in the colour warm red. Over the years various competitors successfully introduced drinking and feeder systems that had different colours. It was not only for the looks, but it was also their believe that colours did not matter that much.

“Over all those years we sticked to the red colour, not only because we keep on believing that it attracts birds, but also because it is the colour of our brand”, says Richard Wentzel, managing director of Impex. “Nonetheless we realize that much has changed and will continue to change. Therefore we started a project that should provide an answer to the question how the drinker of the future should look like. For pigs we by now have a good understanding of drinking behaviour and already developed the EuroTier award winning Eco regulator drinker for pigs. Now it is time to learn more about the future requirements of a chicken drinker.”

Bird welfare
Animal welfare is not an issue created by city people, it is an issue that should be considered to be a integrated part of livestock production management. The better the welfare the better the health and performance. But what is supporting bird welfare? Regarding drinkers there are various guidelines set by (non-) governmental bodies that include water pressure, water supply per nipple, yes or no side action of the nipple, etc. Where these guidelines come from and where they are based on is not always clear. Little is known about drinking behaviour of chickens and their preference for a specific type of nipples.

Research Wageningen UR Livestock
That is why Impex initiated a scientific research project which should provide a better insight in what colour preferences chickens have, what the effect a specific light source has on this preference and what the effects of various levels of water supply per nipple and nipple characteristics are on bird performance. Wageningen UR Livestock Research is looking at these issues and conduct the trials at their Carus research facility in Wageningen, the Netherlands. The research team is monitoring 140 broiler chickens, housed in small pens for 5 birds each. It registers the birds preference for a specific nipple, how the birds drink and their water intake. At the same time they monitor bird performance and litter quality during and at the end of the trial. In the last part of the experiment each of the birds receives a score for feather coverage and quality, foot pads, hocks and breast skin. Video recordings will provide an excellent insight in drinking behaviour of broiler chicks during their production cycle, especially during the first week of life.


Source: Impex Barneveld B.V.