Water is essential for many life sustaining and metabolic processes within the bird, while also accounting for a large majority of muscle composition and weight.
Over the years, genetic advancement for increased weight gain, feed intake and feed conversion have led to the current commercial broiler which attains heavier weights in less time with greater yields. It is estimated that birds consume approximately 1.7 pounds (771.11 grams) of water for every pound of feed. Therefore, there is still much to be explored about how these genetic advancements have impacted commercial broiler water intake.
The objective of this study was to determine if any differences exist in daily water consumption and daily water-to-feed ratios for current flocks (January, 2010 – November, 2011) and flocks reared 10 years ago (January, 2000 – December, 2001).
All flocks were grown under commercial settings in four broilers houses (40' x 400') at the University of Arkansas Applied Broiler Research Farm. Water consumption and feed intake were recorded daily by house for the entirety of each flock. Daily water consumption and daily water-to-feed ratios were adjusted to per 1000 birds, with daily mortality taken into account, to standardise data across all flocks.
The data collected was grouped according to grow out date and evaluated for differences by day and group using SAS GLM. Results showed a significant increase in daily water consumption per 1000 birds for days 7-42 for present flocks when compared to flocks grown out 10 years ago, with a daily percentage increase as high as 26.7%.
Additionally, a significant reduced daily water-to-feed ratio was found for present flocks versus 10 year flocks for days 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 40, 41 and 42. These results suggest that water intake has increased over time for the commercial broiler, mirroring feed intake and feed efficiency.
Source: Chance Williams and Susan Watkins, Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR USA
And Tom Tabler, Department of Poultry Science, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS USA
Proceedings of the 2013 International Poultry Scientific Forum, Atlanta, GA USA