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On average, a laying hen drinks about 1.8 ml of water for every gram of feed. The intake of water and feed are linked: if a chicken does not drink enough, it will also eat less (and vice versa). A deviation in this ratio or the water consumption can indicate possible problems in the drinking water system or your animals' health.
Broilers grow quite fast. This means that the water flow for a day-old chick should be different than for a 3-week-old broiler. A helpful thumb rule to use: [chick age] + 20 ml per minute.
So, for example, 21 days old + 20 ml = a water flow rate of 41 ml per minute.
The size of the hens determines the height of the drinking line. For a day-old chick, the drinking line should hang at eye level so they can see the drop hanging from the nipple. The correct posture for an adult chicken is upright with a stretched neck, so the water runs down its throat. Chickens can't swallow, so gravity has to do the job for them.
Check these infographics for the optimal drinking height for your animals:
Poultry that is not drinking enough appears sluggish and sleepy. Besides walking through the house and monitoring water consumption, feeling the crop is also a method to check whether your birds are drinking enough. If the crop feels hard, it could mean that they're not. A well-functioning crop is empty at the start of the day and fills as the day goes on.
The water pressure on the mainline should be between 2 and 4 bar. You can then reduce the water pressure via pressure regulators on the drinking line to 1.5 - 2 bar, so it corresponds to the needs of your poultry. For a day-old chick, the water pressure must be low, so they don't have to use a lot of force to activate the drinking nipple.
Do your animals waste a lot? In that case, you may have set the water pressure too high.
Check our drinking water management guides for the ideal water pressure for your animals:
There can be various causes for water wastage. It may have to do with the settings of your drinking water system, the water pressure, or even the type of drinking nipple you use. Walk around the poultry house regularly to check the drinking nipples for blockages and leaks and to see how your animals drink.
We recommend flushing the drinking lines at least every other day. In the case of young chicks, even three times a day during the first week. For day-old chicks, the water flow needs to be low and the temperature in the house high. These are the ideal conditions for the growth of micro-organisms and the formation of biofilm.
By regularly flushing the drinking water, you keep the drinking water clean and fresh. Especially when the animals are young, the water flow is low, and it is important to flush several times a day. As they get older, you can reduce this to every other day.
Checking the water quality can be done in several ways. You can pour some water into a white bucket and check the transparency and smell of the water. But not all problems are visible to the naked eye. We recommend sending a water sample from the water source and the drinking lines to a laboratory for analysis at least twice a year.
Want to know more? Check our drinking water management guides!
One of the easiest ways to minimize biofilm build-up is routine flushing. In addition, it is important to flush and clean the drinking lines thoroughly after using additives or medicines. This will wash away the primary food sources for bacteria. It is also important to thoroughly flush and clean the drinking system between flocks. This is especially important if the lines are not used for an extended period of time.
Adding vaccines, medicines, vitamins, or supplements is very easy with a Dosatron liquid dosing pump. You connect it to the water control panel in the housing unit. The additives are then distributed evenly over the drinking lines by the pressure and flow of the water.
The number of hens per drinking nipple depends on national/regional legislation and climate conditions. According to the KAT requirements, you can keep a maximum of 10 laying hens per drinking nipple.
The number of broilers per drinking nipple depends on national/regional legislation and climate conditions. According to the KAT criteria, you can keep a maximum of 15 broilers per drinking nipple.
Drinking nipples are part of a closed drinking water system, while round drinkers are generally semi-open drinking water systems. This means that dirt ends up in the water, the animals generally waste more water, and the relative humidity in the house increases.
Drinking water cups are often used to support hens who have difficulty drinking from the drinking nipples. Although we always advise using drinking nipples, it can occur that (especially) untrimmed laying hens need an extra drinking option in addition to the drinking nipples.