It seems that every week some new poultry water treatment comes on the market. Some are advertised to improve bird performance while others claim to do a better job of removing scale or biofilm. Some growers routinely run vitamins or electrolytes on their birds or put sugar in the water to “start the chicks off right.” The reality is that often times, less is more in terms of poultry water treatment and the more things growers add to the water lines, the bigger the problem they are creating.
Poultry growers receive their feed from the integrator that they grow for and that feed has been carefully formulated to deliver the proper levels of all nutrients to the birds at the right time, including the proper levels of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. When water soluble packs of vitamins or electrolytes are introduced into the drinker system, they provide a great food source for bacterial growth and can actually encourage biofilm formation. This is especially true of any sugar containing products or milk stabilizers used for vaccine delivery. Sometimes the use of water soluble water treatment product is warranted. At those times, growers need to be diligent about cleaning the water lines with a mineral acid for the next 24 hrs to remove any trace of residue that can feed bacteria in the lines.
Science Behind Acidification
The only really water treatment that birds need on a regular basis is water acidification. Research at the poultry science departments of several universities shows that intermittently dropping the pH of poultry drinking water to a pH below 4.0 with an animal feed grade mineral acid such as PWT® pH water treatment enhances water consumption, weight gain, and feed conversion. Water acidification is recommended during the first 7-10 days of a bird’s life in order to establish healthy gut flora. After that, it can be administered 2-3 days per week. The target pH of water acidification is always in the 3-4 pH range in order to adequately acidify the crop of the bird. In addition, the regular use of mineral acids will prevent scale and biofilm build-up in the drinker lines and allow for easier and more thorough cleaning when the house is empty.