Water is of great importance in the diet of all production animals. In addition to financial consequences for the farmer, water wastage negatively influences animal performance. Optimal attention, therefore, must be given to the nipple's water supply.
By Wiebe van der Sluis, Rooster 45, the Netherlands
It is often thought that an unlimited water supply is beneficial to poultry production results. In itself this is not strange, but more important is how the water supplied is made available to the animals. As the use of nipple drinkers is more or less the norm, the water requirement of the animals and the water supply must complement one another. Therefore, it is essential to know how the optimal water supply can be achieved.
“It is a misconception to assume that a greater water supply from the nipple drinker increases animal water consumption,” states Richard Wentzel, director of Impex Barneveld, one of the oldest nipple makers in the world.
Nipples should supply no more water than can be consumed to avoid spillage, wet litter and resulting footpad lesions.
He adds that an animal, as well as a person, can best satisfy its thirst by drinking the proper amount. “When you are thirsty, you do not open the tap to the maximum to satisfy your thirst. If you did so, there would be considerable water spillage and you would most likely get a wet face and clothing,” Wentzel continues. “It is better to adjust the water supply from the tap to the amount of water needed to drink without spillage. This is no different with animals. They too need a means to optimally satisfy their water requirement, and the means - nipple drinkers - must be easily accessible and supply no more water than necessary for optimal consumption and production.”
No wet litter
In the past chickens drank water from open systems, such as bell drinkers and water troughs. Switching from these systems to nipple drinkers required an essential change in thought about the amount of water given to the birds. An experience several years ago in Russia is a good example. When updating broiler houses, the water supply was converted from open water (drink troughs) to an Impex nipple drinking system. On delivery, the house managers were instructed how to adjust the correct water pressure and the pressure needed during the growth process of the birds.
In addition, it was made clear to them that by doing so they would have an optimal water supply and no spillage would occur. During the first cycle, however, it appeared that the chickens were spilling water while the house managers had correctly carried out the instructions. Upon request to manage the water drinking system on location for a week, Wentzel successfully determined the cause. He discovered that after the house managers had set the correct pressure, the controlling veterinarian - “the doctor” - raised the pressure to the maximum. He was convinced that with low pressure the birds would be supplied insufficient water.
Through his many years of experience with open water systems, he thought it impossible that the birds could be supplied sufficient water by means of a nipple without high pressure. By raising the water pressure, the water supply of the nipple drinker indeed increased; however, the animals could not consume the extra amount of water and more or less got a shower as well. After a week on location, Wentzel was able to convince “the doctor” and thereby achieve the desired chicken results and litter quality.
Pay attention to water supply
“This experience is no exception,” concludes Wentzel. “Throughout the world many poultry farmers assume that the water supply from nipple drinkers must be used to the maximum with all the consequences. Paying more attention to the water requirement and intake capacity of the animal provides the optimal use of the water so that the litter stays dry and less water is wasted. This is why it is of great importance to daily check the water supply of the drinking nipples as well as to adjust the correct water pressure.”