News update:May 12, 2010

Keeping broilers cool in summer

Water is vital in a broiler grower's efforts to keep birds hydrated and comfortable during hot weather.

From the day broilers are placed until the day they are sold, a broiler will drink approx. 2 litres of water for every kg of feed consumed. If an average life time feed conversion of 1.75 is assumed, this means that it takes a by around 3.5 litres of water for every kg of bird grown. To put this in perspective, on a farm where a 2 kg broiler is grown, the birds in each house of 12 x 150 m will consume close to 190,000 litres of water over the course of the flock. For a large broiler house of 15 x 150 m, growing a large broiler (+3 kg) this can increase to nearly 380,000 litres of water per flock.

While bird water consumption is fairly easy to predict, predicting evaporative cooling system water usage is much more difficult. Evaporative cooling system water usage depends on a variety of factors. These include: the type of evaporative cooling system used (15 cm pads, fogging pads, interior fogging systems); the amount of air being cooled; evaporative cooling system set temperature; outside temperature, and; relative humidity. As a result, the amount of water used to keep the birds cool during the summer months can vary significantly not only from farm to farm, but flock to flock, and hour to hour.

From field trials in the US, it becomes clear that when looked at the total amount of water used by a broiler house over the course of a year, the amount of water used by the evaporative cooling system is small in proportion to the amount of water consumed by the birds.

Obviously without this additional water it would be very difficult to keep birds alive let alone productive during hot weather. When you look at it in terms of what the loss of birds, reduction in feed conversion efficiency, and reduced weight gains resulting in longer growouts would cost the industry, the approximate 20% increase in yearly water usage is a very good investment.

Natalie Berkhout

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