Nutrition

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Gender-specific water system benefits broiler breeders

Male and female birds are very different heights. This can pose a problem for broiler breeder operations. With drinker line height set to the correct height for females, males must activate the drinker at the wrong angle leading to wet litter, poor environmental conditions and ultimately lower hatchability. Here is where a gender-specific water system comes to the rescue.

When discussing broiler breeder production 2 very important metrics rule the roost…

  1. the number of hatching eggs produced and
  2. the hatchability of those eggs.

Focusing on these 2 factors will maximise hatchery yield by producing more healthy day-old chicks for placement into broiler facilities.

And, in order to increase performance, the house environment must be perfect.

In order for birds to drink water efficiently and without spillage, a drinker line needs to be set to a height where the birds can employ Heads-Up Drinking. Photo: Ziggity Systems
In order for birds to drink water efficiently and without spillage, a drinker line needs to be set to a height where the birds can employ Heads-Up Drinking. Photo: Ziggity Systems

Drinking efficiently without spillage

Ziggity focuses on one very important aspect of a broiler breeding operation. Our concepts and system have been developed to make sure the birds get all the water they need without water spillage. This, in turn, keeps litter and slats dry with virtually no ammonia release. With a much friendlier environment, the birds are able to stay healthy and perform better.

Ziggity is the only drinker manufacturer that has carefully studied the breeder operation environment and identified a practical way to deliver water to the birds.

Innovation based on real world needs

After an in depth analysis of the situation, Ziggity worked closely with a number of breeder operations to develop a gender-specific watering system designed for the physiology of both male and female birds.

The obvious fact is that male and female broiler breeders are very different in heights.

So why is this important? For maximum drinking efficiency without spillage, birds must drink with their heads up, allowing gravity to pull water into their crops.

Based on this fact alone, the first goal of any system should be for every bird to employ Heads-Up Drinking. But a drinker line raised high for male birds to reach up to is too high for females.

As a result, breeder operations have traditionally situated drinker lines low enough for the female birds to drink. This requires the male birds to awkwardly lower their heads to activate the drinker. Then they must raise their heads to ingest the water. In doing so, a large volume of water is spilled, dripped and splashed onto the slats or litter. This causes ammonia release, which in turn affects the two metrics of importance. A female bird suffering from high ammonia levels does not perform well; both hatching egg production and hatchability are reduced.

Oftentimes, an operation will also use catch cups in an attempt to “catch” the water dripping from poorly performing drinkers. These cups serve as an ideal environment for bacterial growth. When female birds inevitably drink from them, their health is further compromised leading to even worse hatching egg production and hatchability performance.

Gender-specific watering system

The logical and unique solution that has been developed, tested and proven in breeder houses across the world, is a gender-specific watering system with 2 drinker lines.

Drinker lines managed at two different heights (for males and females), each bird can drink at the optimal angle and without water spillage. Photo: Ziggity Systems
Drinker lines managed at two different heights (for males and females), each bird can drink at the optimal angle and without water spillage. Photo: Ziggity Systems

Female drinker lines are positioned to encourage Heads-Up Drinking for the shorter females. To prevent males from activating these low drinkers, and thus preventing water spillage, the female drinkers have an added shield that the taller male birds cannot reach around. The male drinker line is positioned higher to encourage Heads-Up Drinking among males as well. This line is too high for females to reach the drinker.

Both sexes use Heads-Up Drinking and as a result avoid water spillage and ammonia release.

Improved welfare and performance

Results in real operations show improved bird welfare, dramatically improved male uniformity, liveability and performance, plus dry slats and litter and virtually no ammonia release. Most importantly, producers have noticed more hatching eggs and improved hatchability.

Ziggity has documentation of all these associated benefits from breeder operations around the world and makes its findings available for review at the Ziggity website.