Water management for poultry operations is a subject of much conversation between growers, veterinarians and live production personnel. Water acidification as a preventive or treatment tool for disease management or to improve bird performance is probably one of the most poorly understood areas of poultry husbandry. This stems partly from the fact that until recently no controlled research had been done investigating the preferred pH for poultry water consumption. Water acidification protocols for the prevention or management of certain bacterial diseases had been developed, but in many instances required a drinking water pH at bird level of 4.0 or below to be effective.
Due to the lack of solid information on what type of water turkeys and chickens preferred, many within the industry were reluctant to acidify the drinking water to those biologically effective low levels. A high-pH crop environment (pH greater than 7.0) favors microflora that can hurt poultry performance. Acidification of the drinking water also acidifies the crop which encourages the growth of favorable microflora while discouraging microflora that can harm intestinal integrity and function.
Water acidification is most critical during the establishment of intestinal microflora and at each feed change when nutrient shifts can create instability in the normal intestinal microflora ecology. Using a animal feed grade mineral acid such as sodium bisulfate (LS-PWT2® water acidifier) to reduce the pH of drinking water to 4.0 during the critical periods of intestinal development helps the birds maintain the stability of intestinal microflora throughout the growing period. The establishment and maintenance of healthy intestinal microflora improves live production performance and cost.
How Crop Acidification Works
The reduction of Salmonella, Staph and Clostridium at the farm level focuses on creating a hostile environment to reduce horizontal spread from bird to bird and to reinforce the bird’s natural protection mechanisms. This is most critical when the birds are first placed into the house, when they are moved into the whole house or to the growout barn, and when they are withdrawn from feed.
Acidifying poultry drinking water with sodium bisulfate for the first seven days of life provides a second layer of protection to the lactic acid producing bacteria (LAPBs) that are part of the crop’s normal ecology. This helps the newly hatched poult to maintain a low crop pH until it has established its own population of stable LAPBs. A low crop pH reduces the number of Salmonella or Clostridium that pass farther along the digestive tract and enables the bird to colonize with normal gut flora first. Once the crop’s LAPB population has been established, the bird will be able to maintain a low crop pH on its own as long as feed is available. When feed is withdrawn or turkeys are not eating for any reason, the normal population of LAPBs dies off and Salmonella will multiply in the crop. Acidifying the drinking water to a pH of 3.5 or below during times when feed is not available will prevent the crop pH from becoming too high.
A target pH of 3.5-4.0 is critical for these bacterial control programs to work so it is important to choose a mineral acid that birds will drink readily at that low pH. If the birds refuse to drink the water at the proper pH for crop acidification, the program will not work.
Unique Characteristics that Make LS-PWT2® the Ideal Water Acidifier
All of the acids currently marketed to the poultry industry are weak organic acids (i.e. citric, acetic, lactic) that have poor taste profiles and limited pH reducing capabilities. An organic acid is an acid that has carbon in it such as lactic, acetic (vinegar) or proprionic acids. Organic acids are often characterized as being sour due to their pKa being above the solution pH (a lazy acid). Some suggest that organic acids will work anyway at a high pH but research on bacterial killing ability shows that final pH is the determining factor and not organic acid concentration. Field experience seems to bear this out as the final pH at bird level seems to be the determining factor of efficacy rather than organic acid concentration.
LS-PWT2® water acidifier is the first FDA approved feed grade mineral acid water treatment available to the poultry industry. Due to the unique chemistry of LS-PWT2®, the consumption of treated water is not decreased at higher concentrations as has been reported for organic acids. This advantage gives producers the flexibility for administration in a wide range of applications in all livestock and poultry species. Because LS-PWT2® has a low pKa, it has a cleaner taste profile and profound acidification properties that should overcome all of the issues of using the weak organic acids.
Water Acidifiers for Cleaning Water Lines
The ability to significantly reduce water pH without impacting water consumption is of great advantage in cleaning water lines during the flock. The periodic cleaning of water lines with birds in the house is very desirable especially in areas with high levels of iron in the water. The use of organic acids to clean the water lines with birds in the house results in decreased water consumption during the cleaning period.
With LS-PWT2® water acidifier, the lines can be cleaned frequently without negatively impacting bird health or performance. In most houses a shift in pH is sufficient to clean the lines. In houses with iron water, the pH of the water at bird level should be a 4.0 or less during cleaning in order to reduce the negative impact of the iron content.
Finally, it is critical to use an animal feed grade or human food grade acid in the drinking water. Industrial grade liquid acids are not approved by FDA for animal consumption. LS-PWT2® brand of water acidifier contains Sodium Bisulfate Animal Feed Grade and is produced under the guidelines for “Manufacturing, Packaging and Distribution of Animal Feeds and Feed Ingredients”. It is produced in a manner that assures the quality required for consumption by food-producing animals and meets requirements that are necessary to minimize the potential for contamination. LS-PWT2® is approved by the FDA for use in animal feed and water.
Have questions about water management for your operations? Contact your Jones-Hamilton Co representative to discuss your needs.