Choosing the right drinker for the job

Choosing the right drinker for the job is critical if producers are to get the best performance from their investment.

According to technical advisers at US poultry watering specialist Ziggity, a drinker designed for broilers is likely to fail if used in a broiler breeder/parent stock operation because these birds are so aggressive when drinking.

“Their strong pecking wears the smaller nipple-type drinker made for broilers to the point where they leak or have excessive discharge when triggered,” they say. “These birds need a bigger, hardier drinker that can withstand their abuse.”

The company therefore uses a twin-lock design on it’s broiler/breeder drinkers to keep them secure on the pipe. “Some producers also prefer this type of drinker to have a shield, which forces the birds to drink at the correct angle, regardless of bird height.”

In contrast, broilers are raised from day one to slaughter on the same drinking system. The water pressure and height of the drinking line should be easy to adjust as the birds grow and the system should not leak even as older birds peck more aggressively.

“Anything that interferes with the birds getting all of the water they want will negatively affect growth and feed conversion rates.”

Ziggity’s drinker for broilers and broiler breeders has a patented concave trigger pin, that releases water quickly at low pressure and rotates the ball to keep the internal components clean. The ball is light and easy for even very young birds to activate.

Layer systems

Commercial layers need a more rugged drinker because they are mature birds throughout the entire production cycle.

“A problem many producers have is that the birds’ movement, and the operation of feeding and ventilation equipment, causes cages and aviary systems to vibrate,” warns Ziggity. “This can result in the ball in the drinker rattling off its seat, causing the drinker to leak.” This results in wet floors, pits and belts, threatening bird health.

Some producers respond to this by using drinkers with catch cups. “At Ziggity, we find that catch or drip cups, whether used in a cage or alternative housing systems, an unsuitable choice. Whatever is in the poultry house can, and will, end up in the cups, fouling the water. Also, catch cups allow for bird-to-bird cross contamination.”

Instead, drinkers for commercial layers have heavier shut off balls. The ball-to-seat contact point is also higher, which means more of the ball’s weight is below the seat, helping to prevent inadvertent seepage.

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