Paper under chick drinkers: is it really helpful?

Placing paper under water lines increases water consumption by baby chicks, but only for the first 3 or 4 hours after house placement, research indicate
calendar icon 9 August 2018
clock icon 2 minute read

When day-old chicks placed in a house readily move to drinker lines with paper underneath, it’s thought that paper is the attraction, an assumption tested in a study by Michael Czarick, a professor at the University of Georgia, and graduate research assistant Connie Mou.

The two conducted their study on six commercial farms, using two houses on each farm. One house had paper placed under every drinker line and the other house did not. The study evaluated chicks from 0 to 7 days of age, Czarick and Mou told Poultry Health Today.

Water meters recorded usage from 20 to 5,000 milliliters per minute, and bodyweights were recorded on days 0, 1 and 7. First-week mortality was also tracked, Mou said.

The study found increased water consumption for the initial few hours after chick placement in the houses with paper under drinkers compared to those without paper. But after 4 hours, water consumption evened-out in all the houses tested, Mou said.

Czarick said that although ensuring chicks get water right away is an important factor affecting chick performance, breeder flock age and proper brooding temperatures are also important. Placing paper under drinkers isn’t a bad practice, but grower efforts might be better spent addressing other husbandry issues.

Some growers say paper under the drinkers helps identify leaky nipples, but otherwise, Czarick sees little benefit.

Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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