Not only is water scarce and we have to take care of it, but appropriate importance is not given, nor is it studied as it should be.
Water is always there, but we don’t always pay attention to it. It is the forgotten nutrient and resource. “What we lose in poultry production is impressive because we do not pay attention to something that is so important on a daily basis,” said Mário Penz, global strategic broiler account director for Cargill AnimalNutrition. Water is one of his passions, as he expressed during the Latin American Poultry Summit in Atlanta in February 2019.
It’s well known that water is scarce, but even today no serious decisions are made about it, nor do we care about the type of water in poultry production. On the farm, there are three specific points we should consider about water: quantity, quality and temperature. These are especially important on a new farm.
Farmers must know the source of their water and protect it all the way from the source to the birds. Penz said a good water source is easily spoiled on its way to the animals.
Amount of water For every kilogram of feed a chicken eats, it drinks about two liters of water (1.1 liter per pound). Therefore, the availability of water at the farm must be evaluated to avoid supply problems. In the last 25 years, water consumption increased by 50% in chickens. A farm built in 1990 must verify that its water source will still meet the demands of 2020.
Farm water availability must be evaluated to avoid supply problems. Water is important from the very start. Chicks arrive with some level of dehydration, and they can drink up to 40 percent of their weight in water during the first day. Penz said delaying water consumption negatively affects the chick’s immune response. Lack of water also affect senterocytes, the chick's intestinal absorptive cells. After 24 hoursof hatching, chicks that do not get water and feed will have almost all enterocytes completely destroyed, which then will take four to six days to recover.
In addition to the impact on villi, there is irregular growth of the pancreas in relation to the duodenum, which causes adecrease in pancreatic secretion. Chickens eat because they drink. When they eat, they grow. The relationship between water consumption, feed and weight gain is absolutely linear and positive.If you lose 10% of consumption,you lose 10% profit.
Water consumption Simple data is needed on the farm to define daily water consumption, its temperature, added chlorine levels, as well as the expected consumption proportion compared to actual consumption.
There are other factors that impact water consumption: ■ Heat stress increases water consumption when the water is cold
■ An excess of protein increases consumption ■ Sodium and potassium increase consumption ■ Vegetable diets increase consumption ■ Coarse feed particle size and pellets reduce water consumption ■ Elevated bird density increases consumption ■ Other factors such as bird sex, feed restriction, air fl ow in the house, use of anticoccidials, use of more feeding phases or non-starch polysaccharides, have different effects and may result in an increase or decrease in water consumption.
Drinkers Nipple drinkers differ, and different products deliver varying amounts of water. Consult the manufacturer for the actual water flow per drinker. The height of the drinker line in a high temperature environment affects water consumption. The higher the nipples, the lower the consumption in high temperatures. In this scenario, the chicken has to choose between drinking water and breathing. Penz gave an example of a 27,000-bird poultry house, with a pipe length of 120 meters (393.7 feet) and a diameter of 2 centimeters (0.79 inches). If all chickens drink water on their first day on the farm, the system will recharge every 240 minutes, or recirculate six times a day. With this, water can enter the house at 15 C (59 F) and leave at more than 30 C (86 F). The second day, it takes 180 minutes to recharge, and there are eight recirculations. By the seventh day, itincreases to 17 recirculations. Penz said flushing the water system is absolutely essential during the fi rst week.
Water quality It is fundamental to analyze water and verify the following chemical and microbiological parameters: ■ Total dissolved solids (TDS): At less than 1,000 milligrams per liter, practically no other mineral analysis is necessary. TDS measures the inorganic
composition of water (calcium,magnesium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorine and sulfates). It’s an indication of water mineral quality and more accurate than water hardness. ■ pH: Less than 7 is good, and it is better if it is closer to 6. Acidic pH corrodes equipment and can compromise bird performance, as well as the efficiency of some medications or vaccines dispensed in the water. Basic pH favors the precipitation of some residues that may remain in the pipeline, contaminating carcasses, in addition to inactivating, or decreasing the efficiency, of chlorine. ■ Sodium, sulphates, nitrates, iron, chlorine and magnesium should be analyzed when TDS levels are greater than 1,000 mg/L. ■ Total and fecal coliforms: The maximum acceptable level of total bacteria is 1,000 colony forming units (CFU) permilliliter. The limits for total coliforms and fecal coliform levels are 50 CFU/ml and 0 CFU/ml, respectively. It is importantto measure the total bacteria at the water source, and at the entrance and exit of the poultry house. CFU values should bevery similar in these threepoints. If any contamination isdetected in the system, it shouldbe investigated. Penz suggested the use of endoscopes to check pipe cleanliness. If the pipes are filled with dirt ,they must be cleaned. Samples must always be taken before filtration,to know what gets to the house and what kind of treatmentis needed. At least two chemicaland microbiological analyses should be done per year.
After 20 C (68 F), for every 1 C(1.8 F) of temperature increase,water consumption increases 6% and feed consumption decreases 1.2%, favoring wetlitter. For chicks, water must enterthe house colder than 25 C (77F). It is important to emphasize that chicks can’t drink cold water, however. If they feel the wateris a bit cold, they will wait untilthe water temperature quickly reaches the ideal temperature o fconsumption.If the water is warm at the source, work to fi nd a way to coo lthe water before it gets to the house. Water tanks must be protected,especially from the sun. With asimple roof, cold water can stay cold until consumption. Pipes must also be protected. Do not place them just under the roof. It’s the hottest place in the house; just a few meters worth of exposure can raise the temperature to a point where chickens reduce consumption. ■