By Ken McGinnis
Territory Manager, Texas, Louisiana
Water quality and quantity is more important today than it has ever been in the history of the industry. Although the ratio of water to feed has stayed consistent under normal conditions—requiring nearly two pounds of water per pound of feed consumed—water demands from other areas of broiler production have changed.
These include structural elements like farm size, house size and design; animal elements like genetics and bird target weights; and programs with water usage targets related to climate and more natural growing—like antibiotic free (ABF), no antibiotics ever (NAE), and no human antibiotics (NHA) programs.
“If they don’t drink they don’t eat, and if they don’t eat they don’t grow.”
Not long ago, we used almost as many days to produce a four-pound bird as we do today in producing a ten-pound bird. This corresponds to how the water demand per house has changed. In another example, the water requirements for a farm with two 12,000 sq ft. houses producing a four-pound target weight bird are very different from the requirements for a farm with over 300,000 sq ft. producing ten-pound birds.
Water Availability and Line Management
Good water availability is also essential for sending a uniform bird to the processing plant. Poor uniformity may prove problematic for the marketing team attempting to meet customer demand and reduces line speed efficiency in the processing plant. With water demand up, keeping water lines free from scale formation and bio-film is essential.
With a closed system supplying adequate volume, the next step is to keep it clean with a low bacteria count, especially in an ABF program. If your primary consideration is salmonella and/or clostridium, it is important to achieve a continuous pH of 4. If not continuous, consider that a pH this low is highly beneficial during periods of stress, which include:
- the first couple of weeks of growth
- during feed changes
- during conditions of high ammonia, water spills, feed outage, and extreme heat or cold.
Keeping water lines free of scale and bio-film requires a mineral acid like PWT. An organic acid for scale removal does not usually achieve a low enough pH (4) to reach satisfactory results. It is also important to consider palatability when choosing an acid. Birds often reduce their consumption with organic acid treatments.
Water acidification programs and products have grown in popularity over the past several years—alongside increased water usage—and with that growth, misconceptions have also proliferated. Effective line cleaning, bacterial reduction, improved chlorine efficacy and crop acidification can all be achieved with an effective acidifier. Choosing the right acidifier, a mineral acid over an organic one, will help growers accomplish the optimal water quality and quantity for production.