How effective is your drinking water vaccination?

23 april 2015

Water is a perfect medium to present vaccines and or liquid feed additives to poultry. The commonly used nipple or cup drinker systems have proven to be excellent watering systems, provided the system is properly made, maintained and used. Still in water medication a lot can go wrong. 

Providing water requires a watering system which has been made out of material that can easily be cleaned and maintained. Impex is aware of that and continuously improves the efficiency of its systems. It is often thought that any system will do and once you have it installed nothing can go wrong. The reality however tells a different story. 

Field research
Field research done by CEVA Animal Health showed that the results of drinking water vaccination against Gumboro (IBD) at many farms did not meet the required coverage of 95+ per cent. In reality about 27 per cent of the birds was not vaccinated at all and almost 30 per cent did not receive enough vaccine or not at the right time. These poor results required further investigations. Most flock managers believed that they did a good job until the facts were presented. Apart from timing, they believed that at start of vaccination the pipes were clean and empty. A closer look however showed the opposite. Even those who properly cleaned the pipes had to accept that “empty” pipes were not empty. Especially watering lines that have nipples attached to the pipe with a long screw pin inside the pipe need extra attention. These may leave water at the bottom of the pipe, up to the top of the screw. To avoid this, Impex designed a special nipple (I-Flex 17) that does not insert deeply into the water pipe to allow optimal cleaning and release of water. Residual water inside the pipe is thinning the vaccinated water and is reducing the effectiveness of the vaccine. Providing a higher dose is not a solution here, because most of the time the water left behind in the pipe is pushed forward in the pipe filling the end of the pipe with thinned or clean water. 

Clean and empty 
To prevent problems caused by improper distribution of vaccines it should be clear that the whole drinking water system should be cleaned before adding vaccinated water. There is a common misconception that chlorinated water does not require any maintenance and lines do not have to be flushed. This is absolutely false. Public water, treated well or surface water may reduce the severity of contamination in the lines, but a biofilm may still appear. Regardless of the water quality or water source, it is highly recommended to clean the water lines between flocks and flush it properly with clean chlorine-neutralized water, so no disinfectant or cleaning solution is left behind.

After flushing watering systems it should be clear that no water remains in the lines. Only than one can start preparing the system and the flock for vaccination by winching the empty lines up from the floor and leaving the flock without water for about two hours. In case lifting the system is impossible one should dim the lights to give rest to the birds. Meanwhile the watering system can be prepared for filling the lines with vaccinated water. Make sure that every single line is filled to the end with the desired quantity of vaccinated water. This can be checked by using blue dye in the water solution. Once fully charged the drinkers can be lowered to provide access to the thirsty flock. To ensure that all birds will take in enough medicated water one should walk through the house to raise the birds and force them to get closer to the drinkers. Repeated walking the house improves the intake of water and the serological result of the water medication. Field tests showed that the number of negatives dropped from 33% to 19% when the walking frequency over the 2-3 hour vaccination time went up from one to repeatedly. 

Importance of water quality
As soon the stock solution is finished the water lines including the dosing system has to be flushed with clean water so no residues will be left behind. The question however is: “What is clean water?” Chickens, like people, require drinking water that is of good quality, safe and without an unpleasant taste. It should be tested for the presence of bacteria and other microbes, for the levels of minerals that occur naturally in the water, and for other chemical and physical factors (see Table 1).

Recent field research indicates that a bacteria level of zero may be desirable to obtain optimum performance. Poor water quality can retard growth, curtail egg production, or produce lower egg quality. While several elements can cause poor water quality, the interaction between elements is more significant in water quality problems than the simple fact of their presence. When using well or surface water the use of a filter is absolutely needed. This water may contain dirt and chemicals that may interfere with a proper functioning of the watering system and or vaccines. A Vietnamese producer learned it the hard way. He complained about leaking and blocked nipples, while filters had been installed. When Impex director Richard Wentzel visited the farm he discovered that the farm workers had taken away the filters because they were fed up cleaning the filters a couple of times per day. This proved to be ‘a penny wise but pound foolish decision’.



Source: Impex Barneveld B.V.