Water has many important functions in the body including temperature regulation, transport of nutrients, lubrication, transport of waste materials, and involvement in nearly all metabolic processes. A lack of water can decrease feed consumption, reduce growth rate, and decrease the efficiency of feed utilization.

In addition to water availability, water quality is vital to good flock performance. Water with high sulfates can have an effect on poultry health as sulfates can have a laxative effect thereby degrading health and performance.

In addition to water availability, water quality is vital to good flock performance.

Nitrate and nitrite levels in water can be a potential problem for poultry. The toxicity of nitrates to poultry varies with the age of the birds, older birds being more tolerant. Levels in excess of 50 mg per liter for chickens and 75 mg per liter for turkeys have proven harmful in laboratory trials. A recent study with commercial broilers showed that nitrate levels greater than 20 mg per liter had a negative affect on weight, feed conversion, or performance. Levels between 3 and 20 mg per liter were suspected to affect performance. Nitrites are toxic at much lower levels than nitrates; concentrations as low as 1 mg per liter can be toxic.(1)

The presence of coliforms in water is indicative of fecal contamination. Levels of coliforms greater than 4 ppm suggest a contamination level, which can cause health concerns for poultry. At the very least, this level of coliforms can reduce flow rate or even block water lines.

Spring Time Quality Check
Spring is an excellent time to check your well water for potential problems. Melting snow, rain, and manure applications can all affect water quality. Nitrogen in spring manure and fertilizer applications becomes nitrates in the soil. Spring rains and snow can push those nitrates into your water. Just like nitrates, bacteria from manure can find its way into your well also.

Dutchland Farms’ Pullet and Flock Services Technicians recommend testing the water in a layer house 1-2 times a year. Pullet flocks are tested at the beginning of each flock or about 2 times per year. Samples are tested for E. Coli and coliforms. If the test shows the water is contaminated, it is treated then retested to ensure the treatment was successful.

Our service teams recommend flushing between flocks. A cleaner/disinfect is recommended to clean the lines and remove bacteria.
Some farms also flush their lines daily in the summer’s hottest days to keep fresh, cool water flowing to the birds.

Our sister division, Wenger Feeds, offers an array of water tests including hardness, pH, iron, nitrates, sulfates, E.coli, and total coliform. Sterile water collection bottles are provided.

1. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

For more information about Dutchland Farms’ Products and Services, contact us.