Drinking Water Quality - What's New | Seminar 2016

Drinking Water Quality - What's New?

By Dr. Susan Watkins

Providing a clean, safe and sanitized water supply is crucial in assuring flocks perform their best.  Factors which impact drinking water quality include source or water supply, presence of natural contaminants such as minerals, pH, water distribution system, use of water additives including vitamins, electrolytes, probiotics and antibiotics. Water supplies are dynamic and can change therefore it is important to monitor supplies to assure quality does not deteriorate.  Naturally occurring contaminants such as iron as well as water additives such as electrolytes, vitamins, probiotics and acids can promote microbial growth in water systems which may not be beneficial to bird performance.  Maintaining water quality involves testing water supplies to identify both mineral and microbial challenges.  Drip samples can be pulled from the source and from the poultry barn.  Comparing the results can help identify if contamination is occurring and needs to be addressed.  Swab samples of water systems are very useful in identifying if biofilms are present which will be an indicator that systems need thorough cleaning.  Daily water sanitation programs are an excellent tool in reducing health challenges introduced to flocks through the water system.  Before implementing a daily water sanitation program, it is important to thoroughly clean as much of the water distribution system as possible. Proper line cleaning is critical for optimal success with water sanitation programs and this requires utilizing the recommended concentrations of products injected into the water systems and then allowed to sit in the lines adequate time to assure effectiveness.  For stabilized hydrogen peroxides, it is recommended that the product be left in the water lines for 24-72 hours.  Also it is important to clean the underground distribution lines as they can be a significant source of microbial challenge.  Swab systems pre and post cleaning to determine how well the job was done.  Once the system is clean there are several options for daily water sanitation which include chlorine, hydrogen peroxide and chlorine dioxide.  There is some indication that it may be beneficial to rotate sanitation products particularly on operations which have consistent health challenges that may be associated with the water supplies.

Chlorine is still proving to be an effective water sanitizer but chlorine products should be properly stored and not mixed with other products.  Recently a dry chlorine crystal product has been introduced by Green Kleen that is labeled for drinking water usage.  This product is stabilized at a lower pH than traditional bleach, sodium hypochlorite, or calcium hypochlorite products so it creates less challenge for pH adjustment to optimize the chlorine efficacy.  Initial testing shows the product works well as a daily drinking water sanitizer.  

The Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) system has been introduced by the Silver Bullet Company.  This system combines ultraviolet light with aeration and electricity to sanitize water with free radicals such as O3, O- and OH-. One of the primary benefits has been its use in treating stored water or where possible, diffusing straight into a well.  The beauty of this system is that it can continuously treat the water with no build-up of residuals that could be harmful or toxic to the birds.

Chlorine dioxide technology has advanced in recent years so that the sodium chlorite products are being properly activated with acids to assure adequate conversion to chlorine dioxide prior to injection into the water system.  When utilizing chlorine dioxide products, it is important to monitor free chlorine dioxide residual to assure at least 0.5-1 ppm are present.   Monitoring total chlorine dioxide residual may not detect whether there is enough free ClO2 residual to prevent recontamination post injection.  One benefit of chlorine dioxide has been the removal of biofilm over time when the product is continuously used at a drinking water rate.

A good monitoring program continues to be the best tool for verifying the effectiveness of a water sanitation program.  The number one failure for most water sanitation programs is the lack of consistency.  Some water systems have little forgiveness regarding microbial contamination issues and as little as one day of no water sanitizer present can be enough of a window for challenges to release from the protected biofilm and challenge the flock. 

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About The Presenter

Dr. Watkins is a Professor and Extension Poultry Specialist in the Poultry Science Department at the University of Arkansas.  Her focus is live production with a special emphasis on optimizing drinking water quality and troubleshooting drinking water challenges. She also teaches poultry production and conducts broiler and turkey research in the areas of on farm food safety, nutrition and antibiotic alternatives.  In August 2012, she was named the Arkansas Poultry Federation Chair of Poultry Science.