Water - Poultry water management

Poultry water management

Water is a vital substance that depending on age comprises 60-85% of the poultry body; therefore, good-quality and adequate water should be provided for poultry. Water plays a key role in the poultry metabolism. The consumed water is used for nutrient transportation, enzymatic and chemical reactions in the body, body temperature regulation, lubrication of joints and organs. A large part of the intercellular space involves water. Further, water has a key role in digestion and breathing process.

Factors affecting water consumption are:

• Animal-related factors
Genetic, sex, age, growth rate, poultry productivity and physiological condition
• Environmental factors:

• Amount of feed consumption: there is a close relationship between water and feed consumption. Thus, water can demonstrate flocks’ performance as well. When there is no suitable bird distribution in the poultry house, competition for water and feed rises that can subsequently weaken the poultry performance. Poultry can survive up to one week without feed, but without water they go just for a few days.
• Diet Balance
High level of sodium in diet, in addition to increasing water consumption and litter quality, influences water and electrolytes balance. Moreover, balance and quality of the protein source increases water consumption.

• Water and environment temperature
Environment temperature can notably impacts water consumption. Increase in environment temperature results in water consumption increase, but this increase will not be linear.
• Humidity
• Chickens distribution in the poultry house
• Water quality

The ratio of feed consumption

The relationship between water and feed consumption in broiler chickens at a standard temperature:
The relationship between water and feed consumption in broiler

The characteristics of a high quality and healthy water for poultry

Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O) molecules and is considered a complete solvent. Water quality varies with geographical region. All breeders should test water samples of their farms in terms of quality in a reliable laboratory. Unacceptable water quality results in indigestion and is followed by disruption of performance, growth, and reproduction of the bird.

water quality

Water quality

Nitrates and Nitrites: the existence of Nitrates and Nitrites in drinking water generally indicates the penetration of animal excreta or manure into the water supply system. The maximum concentration of tolerable nitrogen for livestock and poultry drinking water is less than 20 mg/l, but a concentration of less than 10 mg/l is recommended for chickens.
Hardness: water hardness is associated with the presence of some cations and anions in water. Calcium and magnesium salts results in water hardness. Water hardness leads to the inefficiency of disinfectants and drugs.
Alkalinity: it refers to the number of ions existing in water and used in the reaction to neutralize hydrogen ions. Alkalinity is made with the presence of calcium carbonate, bicarbonate, or sulfate. High alkalinity increases the buffering capacity of water.
Salinity: any water includes some amount of soluble salts such as sodium chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium or carbonates, bicarbonates, sulfates, and nitrates. A method to assess water quality is determining Total dissolved solids (TDS) or Total soluble salts (TSS). The amount of soluble salts is measured by its electrical conductivity in the laboratory in a few minutes.

After measuring EC (micromhos), TDS (mg/l) can be easily calculated by the following equation:

TDS (ppm) = EC (Us/Cm) × 0.67

In case it is reported in micromhos, coefficient 0.67 must be converted to 670.

Color: water should be colorless, odorless, and tasteless. The existence of any color in water may indicate contamination (brown water indicates the existence of iron and blue color indicates the existence of copper)
Darkness: materials such as soil, clay or sand can result in opacity and darkness of water. Also, water should be monitored with regard to bacteria, dissolved solids, minerals and chemicals level.

Drinking water management/ heat stress:

Some effective factors in regulating body temperature in case of heat stress are as follows:

Environment temperature:

As the environment temperature rises, poultry consume more water. One of the main ways to regulate the body temperature in hot weather is water evaporation through breathing system during the “panting” process. Water consumption in broiler chickens increases approximately 7 percent for each degree Fahrenheit increase. An increase in environment temperature results in an increase in the consumed water for each consumptive feed.

Water temperature:

Using cool water in warm weather leads to performance improvement of poultry. Water can contribute to the heat release and regulation of body temperature. In addition, adding vitamins A-C-E in water can reduce the effects of heat stress.


During the heat stress period, adding electrolytes in drinking water in addition to reducing the negative effects of heat stress leads to the stimulation of water consumption that eventually is followed by a reduction in deaths incurred by heat-stress.

Attention: observe the following issues at the time of water sampling for chemical and microbial tests:
1. Sampling must be conducted on main source and the water exit section of the lines in the poultry house
2. Preferably water sampling should be done with 10 cc syringes
3. Water sampling dish should be free of any pollution and dirt
4. Prior to ordering concentrate and feed, make sure about water chemical and microbial quality

• The initial chemical testing of the poultry house water is conducted by Sepahan Daneh specialized after-sales service experts.
• Chemical tests (hardness, PH, salinity, etc.) and microbial tests of consumptive water is conducted in Sepahan Daneh laboratory, partner of Institute of Standards & Industrial Research of Iran