The modern broiler, turkey and breeder are designed for growth and efficiency. When bacteria-filled water is used, we are asking the birds to delegate resources towards fighting infection causing a reduction in performance.
“Often I hear producers say, we are putting our new chicks on built up litter, how could the water supply be the problem,” said Susan Watkins, University of Arkansas extension poultry specialist. “Well believe it or not, built up litter that has been properly conditioned is really not an ideal place for pathogens to live because it is fairly dry. On the other hand, almost all bacteria like to be in a water solution and when we add food like citric acid, vitamins or electrolyte mixes and there are naturally occurring foods in the water such as iron, manganese or sulfur, these can serve as primary food for bacteria such as E. coli and pseudomonas.”
Before producers use water additives, they need to ask the question, do my birds really need this product?
Watkins recommended that all producers have their water analyzed for mineral content. If iron, manganese or sulfur is present, then it might be worthwhile to use treatments that remove these.
“If we feed the bacteria and it really explodes in the water system, that contamination will pass to the birds and it doesn’t take long for a problem in the digestive system to cause a loss in feed conversion and weight gain,” Watkins said.
Using plain, sanitized water as much as possible is a big step in the right direction. If you cut into a water line and there is a distinct slime build-up then the producer should consider cleaning the system between flocks with one of the concentrated, stabilized hydrogen peroxide products like Proxyclean, Cid 2000 or Hydroline Cleaner.
She also recommended bleach and chlorine dioxide products such as the Z series or GO2, which can be mixed and injected with a medicator. “Some of the hydrogen peroxide products labeled for bird use are also excellent water sanitation tools.”
When the barns are empty is also a critical time to preserve the quality of the water. If producers use daily sanitizers, Watkins suggested that they get a tester kit to make sure birds are not over-dosed. “Nothing will back birds off water faster than too much chlorine in the water, and by that I mean over 10 ppm,” she added. “If you are running bleach, try to shoot for 3-5 ppm but watch your water consumption, as birds age, the injected product gets to the birds faster because they are using more water so it may be necessary to back off the dosage to compensate for the reduced time in the system.” 
Watkins also suggested that producers monitor water equipment to make sure the lines are releasing the right amount of water.
“Bottom line, if the water isn’t right whether it be quality or quantity, bird performance will be impacted.”


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