Proper drinker management can save you money

01 februari 2016

Wastage of water is costly and can occur due to several factors. By taking appropriate measures, water wastage can be prevented.

Water management is very important for a healthy flock. Healthy chicks drink a bit more water each day and have a good appetite. The feed intake per chick should increase daily but as the bird grows older, the ratio of water to feed drops. The ratio of water to feed intake is a good source of information. For example, an increased water intake is often accompanied by a reduced feed intake. With such a strong ratio, it is immediately clear that a problem might exist. Increased water consumption may indicate heat stress or disease or, alternatively, it may be due to just a leaky pipe. Always look beyond the obvious. If the birds appear healthy and feed consumption levels are normal, the problem may lie in the water supply. Proper drinker management is therefore the key. When drinking water is provided to the birds and there is water wastage for whatever reason, the water will end up in the litter instead of being delivered to the birds. Producers will then lose profit due to lower flock performance during production time as well as through increased operating costs.

Three causes of water wastage
Any reduction of water wastage will save money. Effective water usage can be achieved by simply checking for and eliminating the three most common problems in the house: nipple drinker leakage by improper cleaning, improper drinking line height adjustment and improper drinking line pressure adjustment.

Flushing the drinking lines
When a drinking system is new or cleaned and maintained properly, leakage is minimized. It does, however, not take long before biofilms and contaminants build up in the drinking lines. These can ultimately cause the nipples to decrease delivering the appropriate amount of water or even stop the flow completely when being activated by a bird. Many additives supplied through the drinking water are a feeding ground for bacteria and mold. A slimy film consisting of bacteria, yeast and mold (biofilm) quickly forms on the surfaces of the water lines. Therefore, it is important to make sure the pipes are thoroughly flushed after the dosage of additives to the drinking water. As a biofilm also has an impact on antibiotic treatments or vaccinations given via the drinking water, it is advisable to flush the pipes thoroughly before and after administering such treatments. Flushing alone is not sufficient against biofilms; chemical products are required. Biofilms can also cause leaks in the drinking system. The use of ground water with organic material content increases the risk of biofilm formation. Regular drinking system flushing and cleaning is vital for proper functioning. To check when flushing is needed, a special dirty water detector is available. This detector monitors biofilm in the drinker lines and emits a signal when the drinking line needs to be flushed. With the proper drinking systems, flushing can occur automatically and effort free.

Proper drinking line height
Improper drinking line height adjustment is another cause of water wastage. Different drinker nipples are triggered differently. In addition, every age requires a different height. The correct drinking position is upright with the head upward so that the water runs into the throat. Having the drinker lines too high or too low effects the birds’ water intake as well as water wastage. The most common problem is not making the appropriate adjustments in a timely manner. The height of the drinking system must sometimes be changed on a daily basis as the growth rate of a modern broiler is remarkably fast. Should a week pass without making any height adjustment, the drinker can be as much as several centimeters below the birds’ optimal drinking height, which negatively effects flock performance  as well as causing water wastage. If the adjustment of the drinking line height is adjusted only after the birds have grown several centimeters, the birds can experience stress due to difficulty in adapting to the drastically changed height difference. This may even cause some birds not to drink, negatively effecting performance. Adjusting the drinking lines on a daily basis with small increments is therefore the most efficient and productive manner.

Proper drinking line pressure
The line pressure, similar to that of height, needs to be adjusted often throughout the growth period. When the bird ages, the pressure should increase; however, too high pressure contributes to water wastage and nipple leakage. When the water pressure is too high, the birds will waste water when triggering a nipple. In addition, higher pressure can prevent some nipples from shutting off properly. Too little pressure, however, will inadequately supply water to the birds farther away from the regulator.

With proper drinking equipment, the water pressure throughout the drinking line can be monitored at all times and correct adjustments can be easily carried out. Careful monitoring of the air outlet valve at the end of each line is important to assure equal pressure throughout the entire length of the drinking system. Daily adjustments are not absolutely necessary but are recommended. In general, adjusting the water pressure once weekly is sufficient for most breeds.

Proper water management is economical. With the proper drinking equipment and relatively little time and effort, the flock will be healthy with optimal growth. Prevention of water wastage gives more profit.

Source: The poultry site/ Broiler Signals