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Evaluation of Different Water Flow Rates of Nipple Drinkers on Broiler Productivity

13 April 2015

There was a tendency for broilers receiving water at the slowest rate to be lighter in weight than the other treatments in this Honduran study. While litter was wetter under the drinkers for the highest water flow rates during the earlier phases, the difference decreased as the birds aged.

Watering systems used in broiler production can impact bird performance. Many companies have increased water flow rates (WFR) in their nipple drinkers system during brooding above the manufacturers recommended level, then make adjustments in WFR during the growing period, according to A. Gernat of Escuela Agricola Panamericana/Zamorano in Honduras and co-authors there and at North Carolina State University in the US.

In their paper in Journal of Applied Poultry Science, they explain that this has increased moisture and early caking problems in litter.

The objective of their study was to determine how birds perform on different WFR rates during brood and grow periods while observing litter condition.

Seven WFR treatments were evaluated for broilers reared from one to 42 days of age:

  • 50, 75, 100 or 120mL per minute throughout
  • 50mL per minute from days 1 to 7, increasing to 75mL per minute from 8 to 42 days
  • 75mL per minute from days 1 to 7, increasing to 100mL per minute from days 8 to 42, and
  • 100mL per minute from days 1 to 7, increasing to 120mL per minute from days 8 to 42.

Chicks were identified and randomly allocated in a randomised complete block design.

Bodyweight, cumulative feed consumption, feed conversion rate, litter moisture percentage and litter moisture under the nipple drinkers were determined weekly to 42 days. Mortality was recorded daily.

Birds tended to be heavier on day 35 when (P=0.08) on the higher WFR (75, 100 and 120mL per minute) than birds on the lowest WFR (50mL per minute).

No differences were observed for feed consumption, feed ocnversion rate or mortality.

Birds on treatments with higher WFR (100 and 120mL per minute) and treatments which were increased to higher WFR (75 to 100mL and 100 to 120mL per minute) used more water than birds receiving lower WFR (50 and 75mL per minute).

WFRs of 100 and 120mL per minute resulted in higher percent litter moisture (P≤0.01) under the nipple drinkers but decreased at the end of the growing period.

As the birds become heavier, they attempt to utilise larger amounts of water from the nipple drinkers with greater WFR without any beneficial effect on bird performance, concluded Gernat and co-authors.

As WFR increased, litter moisture under the drinkers initially increased but then decreased as the birds age.


Quilumba C., E. Quijia, A. Gernat, G. Murillo and J. Grimes. 2015. Evaluation of different water flow rates of nipple drinkers on broiler productivity. J. Appl. Poult. Res. 24:58-65.
doi: 10.3382/japr/pfv005

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April 2015

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