How you can use water usage as an indicator of your chickens' health

How you can use water usage as an indicator of your chickens' health

Do you want to know if your chickens are healthy and performing optimally? Checking the water usage is one of the easiest ways to monitor this.

We have said it before; water is an essential nutrient for poultry to perform well. Water is involved in all the body's processes and is therefore crucial for the growth of your birds and the quality of the eggs. The water usage is not the same as the water consumption. However, it can be one of the first indicators that something is wrong with your animals' health.


How do you check the water usage?

The most convenient way to monitor water usage is to check the water meter in the poultry house on a daily basis. The water meter registers the water that is used in your poultry house. Keep in mind; this is not solely the water that your birds drink but also the water they waste while drinking. By monitoring and comparing water usage daily, you get a clear picture of your animals' drinking behaviour. It is important you measure the usage around the same time every day to get a consistent outcome. It is also helpful to save the data as comparison material for the next rounds.


Also, we highly recommend you walk through the house every day. This way, you can study your poultry's drinking behaviour and, at the same time, check the drinking nipples for any leaks or blockages. 

You can also choose to compare the water usage with the feed consumption, the so-called water / feed ratio. The intake of water and feed are linked: if a chicken does not drink enough, it will also eat less (and vice versa).

On average, a chicken drinks about 1.8 ml of water for every gram of feed. A deviation in this ratio, or the water consumption, can indicate possible problems in the drinking system or your poultrys' health.


In case of a deviation in the water usage, always check the drinking system first.

If you encounter a sudden deviation in water usage, it could indicate problems in the drinking system. It is important to check your system before looking for other causes. 

Several possible causes when water usage increases:

  • A leak somewhere in the drinking system;
  • The drinking line is hanging too low, causing your birds to waste more water while drinking;
  • The drinking line's water pressure is too high, possibly causing your drinking nipples to leak or your chickens to waste more water.


Several possible causes when water usage decreases:

  • The water pressure is too high, which means that (day-old) chicks have to push harder on the drinking nipple to activate it. This is quite a task at this young age, and therefore they cannot drink enough water.
  • The water pressure on the mainline is too low; it has to be between 2 and 4 bar;
  • The drinking line's water pressure is too low; so the end of the line is empty (check the water columns);
  • The drinking line is hanging too high, so the chickens cannot reach the drinking nipples properly;
  • A blockage in the system or in the drinking nipples; this can occur if the quality of the water is insufficient, for example, due to biofilm in the lines or dirt in the source (find out how you can improve the quality of the drinking water);
  • Certain chemicals and salts in additives and vaccines affect the water's taste, so the chickens no longer like its taste (find out how taste influences drinking behaviour). So 9 out of 10 times, you...

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