Proper Drinker Management To Improve Bird Welfare

Considerable time and resources have been invested to develop watering management tools specifically for enclosed watering systems to help farmers produce healthy flocks and achieve successful performance outcomes.

We stress the importance of proper management of watering systems in terms of drinker height and using the correct water pressure, and we have often insisted on principles that have challenged widespread practices and ingrained traditions.

This article gets to the root of why we spend so much time and energy in this endeavor. Namely it is about acknowledging that watering systems can play a major role in either enhancing or compromising bird welfare as it relates to dry litter conditions and clean potable water. The goal of Poultry Watering U is to help producers understand important concepts and suggest tools that will improve and maintain bird welfare and lead to better bird performance.

Additionally, there is a clear trend towards Antibiotic-Free (ABF) and No-Antibiotics-Ever (NAE) production as the issue of bird health increasingly resonates with the poultry-buying public. Producers will need to pay more attention to what they can do to on their farms to promote bird health without the use of antibiotics. This includes more attention to dry floors and better management of the bird’s environment to reduce the risk of bird health challenges, diseases and other problems caused by wet litter conditions.

In poultry production facilities, dry litter is a vital element in producing healthy and thriving birds whereas:

  • Wet litter is a breeding ground for disease
  • Wet litter creates ammonia
  • Wet litter can cause pododermatitis
  • Wet litter harms bird performance (FCR, Undergrades, Liveability)

Ventilation can help, but we believe it best to prevent wet litter to begin with, as ventilation will vary from season to season and from house to house. Paying attention to keeping litter dry in the first place is the best overall solution.

Bird health is also threatened by a lack of hygienic potable water often made difficult by use of open type watering systems such as troughs, bell drinkers and systems with catch cups. They are open to the environment and easily become contaminated with bacteria that birds consume, and once infected they then share their disease with other birds through this open and shared drinker vessel. Also worrisome is that these systems require that birds lift their heads to drink, and in the process of doing so, water falls from their beaks and creates wet litter.

By contrast, a totally enclosed nipple type watering system provides clean, hygienic water directly to the bird’s beak when properly managed. To that end updated system management procedures and tools have been developed based on successful field experience, aimed at providing birds with all the water they need while minimizing water spillage that can create wet litter and an unhealthy flock environment.

Bird welfare is important. Understanding watering principles, and using the most effective management tools and procedures will help insure that your poultry production facility will meet or exceed current bird welfare standards, which in turn will lead to improved poultry performance.

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