By Patrick Shoriwa
Water is the most overlooked component in poultry production, but in reality it is a critical nutrient component in enhancing poultry production performance and efficiency. Many small holder farmers have over-looked this naturally available resource resulting in failure to manage this seemingly easy task. Therefore this article seeks to highlight the importance and general functions of water in enhancing poultry production.
Many farmers may want to know: why is water so important? Water is the largest constituent of poultry tissue which forms 80% body of chick, 58% adult bird and 66% egg. This alone gives a clear indication of the contribution of water to chicken life and its products. In addition water has other uses among others which include the following:
- Transporter and carrier of nutrients
- Medium of metabolic processes
- Catalyst of Enzymatic and chemical processes
- Temperature regulation
All the above are critical in aiding growth and health of a chicken. Therefore the next question which comes with producers will be: how much water does a broiler need? How much will a bird drink every day? These are very appropriate questions!
Under normal temperatures of 21 to 25 degrees, the bird on average will consume 1.8 to 2 times more water than feed consumed. As a general guide if a bird is consuming 100g feed per day it will therefore drink 150mls to 200mls water per day (i.e. multiply 100g x 1.8 or 2 times). However other factors can affect water consumption. These are:
- House temperature
- Feed quality
- Bird health
- Water quality
Water consumption in hot weather is 5% more for every 1 degree increase between 32 to 38 degrees.
Like any other nutrient water quality is very important because poor quality water may interfere with digestion and affect subsequent bird performance. The quality of water can be affected by bacteria contamination ie E.coli and other coliforms. In general the following should be water quality factors that should be observed for Poultry Production.
- Colour-water is colourless and any colour in the water may indicate increase in contamination levels.
- Turbidity or cloudiness:- particles such as clay sand or organic matter suspension can cause water to appear cloudy or muddy. This can lead to low water consumption in birds or clog drinking systems.
- Bacteria contamination-can cause mortality and reduced growth rate. The trend worldwide is chlorination of water source with chlorine tablets such as Bio Clear to achieve 2-4 ppm at drinker level.
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