March 20, 2019
Mike Altomare

     If you ask most any producer in the industry, the answer will be “YES”—but frequently, this differs greatly from the practices we see in the field.


     If you attend any training session or research-based presentation about raising poultry, you will see water quality and sanitation listed as a crucial part of a successful poultry production program. Despite the frequent assurance I receive from producers that water sanitation is important, I am not convinced that the industry is truly on-board with the fact that water sanitation is one of the top three contributors to maintaining flock health and increasing production numbers.


    I attended the 2019 Midwest Poultry Conference in Minneapolis last week--which was an excellent event for growers, industry professionals, and researchers alike.  I listened in on many informational programs and, time and time again, water sanitation was listed as a key factor in poultry success whether you use Chlorine, Bromine, or Chlorine Dioxide products.  During that same conference, I was asked numerous times as an exhibitor for our Chlorine Dioxide Solution Product if it is required that producers turn off their water treatment program when applying vaccinations or probiotics. 

     My response was, “absolutely not! It is important to keep the water sanitation system running consistently to achieve maximum sanitation and biofilm destruction qualities.”

 My response contradicts what is recommended by manufactures of probiotics and vaccination, but increased technology and research has led me to the belief that this previously-recommended practice is no longer necessary given the right chemical sanitizer/vaccination/probiotic combination.

     I do understand the manufacturer’s concern and argument.  “If my water sanitation program kills the damaging microbes in the water, then it will also kill the advantageous microbes that we are providing to our birds.”  I do not disagree with this statement and logic.  What I do disagree with, however, is the recommendation to turn off the crucial water sanitation program while injecting these beneficial products.  How, then, can a producer have his cake and eat it too? Or, at least, have his additives and water sanitation too?

     We must start thinking long-term for the health of our birds. If the water program is important today, then it should be just as important tomorrow.  When growers are directed to turn off the water sanitizing solution prior to injecting microbes, they are now implying that water sanitation is not important, or is potentially less important than the additives. We know this is not the case—in fact, the combination of these products is what drives success.  It is important to understand that the goal of a water sanitation program is to destroy harmful microbes originating within the water supply.  If we turn off these systems, we stop killing the dangerous microbes in the water--but the microbes don’t just disappear.  In this situation, the dangerous microbes actually proliferate—this is the reason why we need sanitizers in the first place!

     Vaccinations and probiotics may only protect your poultry from limited types of water born microorganisms. You cannot afford to risk contamination!

     It is important to understand that water chemical sanitizing solutions are oxidizers, meaning they are easily neutralized in the presence of organic material. Because of this quality, carbon filters are typically the easiest way to remove oxidizers and work with most of the currently-approved water sanitation products.  The one exception may be Generated Chlorine Dioxide (ClO₂) because there is a risk that unconverted sodium chlorite will proceed into the bird’s drinking water system.  This is an issue because sodium chlorite does not become an oxidizer until it is converted into ClO₂ and is not removed by the in-line charcoal filter. However, the unconverted sodium chlorite can be converted downstream in the water system when it is exposed to an acidic environment.  This effect can be minimized by improving the generation efficiency, reducing the concentration of chlorine dioxide, or by utilizing our ready-to-use and stable chlorine dioxide solution product. 

     To answer the original question: Yes, water sanitation is hugely important and poultry producers should ensure their water sanitation system is consistently operating properly to optimize flock health.


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