New organic solution emerges to keep livestock water lines pristine

A free range egg producer in the UK, farming 16,000 layer hens, shares his experience solving the challenge of keeping his water lines clean.
calendar icon 10 March 2021
clock icon 5 minute read

“I was looking for an alternative to caustic or acidic water line cleaning products. I’ve had several friends in the poultry industry who’ve used the incorrect dose of caustic products, and it caused damage to their flock, not just productivity loss but physical damage to the flock welfare,” he said.

If inhaled, vapors can also be very dangerous and are a serious risk to farmers and farm workers using caustic or acidic products in the workplace.

“To start, I wanted to find a replacement for our current water line cleaning product that could remove the typical buildup of biofilm and calcium carbonate in water lines that every farmer who is moving volumes of water to livestock or plants has to deal with,” he said.

Second, he wanted to find a solution that was non-toxic and ideally organic. While not an organic farmer himself, he says caring for people and the environment must be essential to everyone's business outlook in the modern world, particularly working in agriculture where farmers are at the cutting edge of environmental stewardship.

“We're dealing with living things: plants, animals, whatever they might be, so it’s really important that we always tread quite carefully and manage the best we can,” he explained. “You always get the best out of something by treating it as well as you can.”

Farm trial reveals non-toxic solution with unexpected results

After first reviewing the international research data and evidence, he decided to test Biocat+ OSAA in his own layer operation and the results were startling. Feed intake was reduced by 8%; egg production increased by 4%; and eggshell quality improved, providing a uniform, brown-colored shell.

“At the end of the trial, I had the best flock that I've ever had. All of my measurement points improved, and the welfare of the birds was better,” he noted. “I didn't use any antibiotics during the 14-month flock cycle and had no issues with flock health. The flock ran as well as it possibly could.”

Egg quality, color and weight are additional outcome measures that can maximize the flock cycle.

“We need to get as many eggs as we can out of the birds, but those eggs have to be of a correct weight, size, color and shell quality. I found that with OSAA, we had an improvement in shell quality,” he said. “As birds near 13 to 14 months, there's a natural drop off in shell quality, but I didn't see that when using OSAA. We previously raised the flock from 16 weeks through 72 weeks. Now we can keep them until 76 weeks and are looking at possibly going to 80 weeks in the future. The longer we can keep them, the longer we're spreading our investment out over a time. Using OSAA, the flock keeps performing and egg production didn't tail off like it had previously.”

The ability to keep water systems clean is directly connected to the health of the flock, specifically gut health, he said.

“The reason the birds are living longer, are healthier and producing better quality eggs is because their gut health is so much better - that's also the reason why they're eating less food,” he said. “We’re seeing better bioavailability in the gut, meaning they're able to absorb the important nutrients from their feed much better, so they need less food to have the same outcome while producing more, better quality eggs.”

A cleaner gut produces less manure that’s drier, which produces less ammonium and creates a healthier environment for the flock to grow.

He could tell that his pipes were clear, due to a few weeping pipe joints.

“I could tell that the product was keeping the waterlines clear, because I had a few issues with leaking pipes. Generally, that will seal itself over a couple of days because the impurities of the calcium carbonate will block the hole, and it will seal over,” he explained. “Because this keeps the water pipes pristinely clean, you don't have that seal over, so make sure your joints are perfectly secure. And I was hugely impressed with the feed consumption savings and the extra revenue generated with increased egg production.”

There’s no special equipment needed to use OSAA. It can easily run through a Dosatron. OSAA is registered in the UK and is available as an organic product.

“I read the data and thought it sounded too good to be true, so I tested it on-farm. I’ve seen it work, and I wouldn’t run a flock without it now,” he said.

Henry Madders, managing director at Citadel Environmental Solutions, notes similar benefits – lower feed consumption, reduction in antibiotic use and faster weight gain – can be seen in broiler farms.

For more information on Biocat+ OSAA, email [email protected].

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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