In feeding trials with broilers, measuring water intake is very useful: experimental diets may influence water intake, and, thereby, affect production performance. The water-to-feed ratio is an important parameter in nutritional studies. When birds do not drink, they eat less, and vice versa. Monitoring both feed intake and water intake enables researchers to detect possible health or welfare issues at an early stage.

At research facilities, however, water supply is usually not separated per individual pen and drinking behaviour cannot be recorded on a pen level. At Schothorst Feed Research, a broiler unit with 96 pens is equipped with an individual water supply system, and this offers interesting research possibilities.

The system provides drinking water to each pen separately, enabling the registration of water intake per pen. The water pressure on the drinking nipples is kept constant, and the supply system is filled by means of individual water containers for each pen. The water containers can be weighed daily or weekly, to monitor water intake of the broilers in the trial.

In broiler nutrition, certain additives in liquid form are supplied via drinking water. In those cases, dose-response trials can be performed to determine the optimal concentration of the additive. With the individual water supply system, it is possible to study various concentrations of the additive at the same time. Water intake is recorded, so the intake of the additive per pen can be calculated easily and linked to animal performance or litter quality. The research facility with individual water supply is very suitable to perform efficacy studies with liquid additives; such studies are required for EU-registration and admission.

For more information, contact Ellen van Eerden / Francesc Molist

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