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Modern Broilers Drink More Water

03 January 2014

US - Increases in feed and water consumption do not seem be the only reason for the higher bodyweight gains of today's broilers than those 10 or 20 years ago, according to a new study.

A study was conducted to determine what differences exist in average daily water consumption and water-to-feed ratios for 2010–2011 flocks as compared with flocks reared 10 and 20 years ago at the University of Arkansas Applied Broiler Research Farm, reports C.L. Williams from the University of Arkansas.

In a paper in Journal of Applied Poultry Research co-authored with other researchers from Fayetteville and Mississippi State University, they explain that water is consistently overlooked as a vital nutrient for broilers although it is essential for metabolic processes within the bird and also accounts for a large majority of lean mass weight.

Over the years, genetic advances have improved intake, gain and feed efficiency for the commercial broiler. However, it is also important to note how this has affected water consumption.

In this study, flocks were grown in commercial broiler houses with water consumption and feed input to the house recorded daily for the entirety of each flock. Daily water consumption and water-to-feed ratios were adjusted per 1,000 birds, with daily mortality taken into account, to standardise the data.

Daily water consumption was significantly different between each group, with the 2010–2011 flocks consuming the greatest amount.

Significant differences were also observed for daily water-to-feed ratios.

Average daily gains were also evaluated and found to be significantly different. However, increased feed and water consumption does not seem be the sole reason for increased average gain.

Based on these results, water intake has increased over the years for the commercial broiler, concluded Williams and co-authors.


Williams C.L., G.T. Tabler and S.E. Watkins. 2013. Comparison of broiler flock daily water consumption and water-to-feed ratios for flocks grown in 1991, 2000–2001, and 2010–2011. J. Appl. Poult. Res. 22(4):934-941. doi: 10.3382/japr.2013-00767

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

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