Today’s poultry watering system is a precision instrument, designed to deliver clean, hygienic water in a way that birds can easily get their fill while minimizing spillage and wet litter. However, corrosion of the metal components inside the drinker can put an end to this precision operation, causing leaks and wet litter that result in poor bird performance.
Central to most watering systems is a nipple type drinker. These drinkers have at least three stainless steel parts — a trigger pin, a ball or top pin, and a seat — that are engineered and closely calibrated to seal off water. The appropriate amount of water for rapid and healthy growth is only released when birds activate the drinker.
While stainless steel is generally corrosion resistant, it is not 100 percent impervious. Producers must keep in mind that aggressive use of oxidizing chemicals (chlorines, acids, etc.) will cause surface corrosion (pitting and dulling) to the seat and ball or top pin, which in turn will cause the drinkers to leak and/or discharge too much water.
The first negative result of this potential corrosion is wet litter and an unhealthy environment for birds. For one thing, the overly wet litter mixed with bird droppings creates excessive ammonia release that can damage the bird’s respiratory tract. Pododermatitis and poor carcass quality follow closely behind. The damp floor conditions also become a fertile breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens of all sorts that can challenge a bird’s health, leading to poor weight gain, high feed conversion and even more consequences in terms of undergrades and mortality.
This corrosion damage will likely be throughout the entire house and is expensive to repair — at the same time that the producer is getting poor results.
The most insidious part of all this is that the corrosion damages internal parts that you cannot see and you will not know they are affected until there actually is a problem — a big problem.
There are those in the poultry industry who maintain that it is preferable to use chemicals in watering systems at a strength that will prevent biofilm buildup even if it means damaging and replacing the drinkers. We think this is a pointless and costly practice, as there are ways to prevent and eliminate biofilm without using these harsh chemicals at aggressive levels. Why pay the price of replacing drinkers when you shouldn’t have to?
For these reasons, it is important to understand why the drinker’s interior components corrode and how to prevent this so you’re not saddled with the expense of poor flock performance and drinker replacement. Our next two articles will help you understand the causes of drinker corrosion and tell you how to avoid them.