Canadian Poultry Magazine

Drinker line pressure settings simplified

By Ziggity   

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Drinker line pressure settings simplified
One of the leading reasons for wet litter in poultry houses is incorrect pressure settings.

Aug. 6, 2010 – One of the leading reasons for wet litter in poultry houses is incorrect pressure settings.


Keeping the litter dry — in a friable state — is necessary for achieving top rated production.

But, misunderstandings about the causes of wet litter and lack of clear direction on the best way to manage litter conditions make it difficult to achieve optimum results. Making management of litter conditions easy and understandable is a big step in improving performance.

To this end, Ziggity Systems has developed a set of protocols to help producers achieve maximum litter performance. (Please note: all references to litter and litter conditions refer to the quality of litter directly under the drinker lines and not to litter between lines.)

By using these protocols, producers can avoid the ammonia releases caused by wet litter, as well as a host of other diseases, including coccidiosis, that can hurt production.

Producers also can reduce footpad dermatitis. Footpad dermatitis is undesirable for two reasons. One, it makes the chicken feet unsuitable for export as chicken paws to countries like China.

The poultry industry has learned over the past few years that the export of chicken paws is a lucrative business. The second, footpad dermatitis can be a serious black mark in an animal welfare audit.
During the drinking process, birds can only retain a certain amount of water in their beaks. If more water discharges from the drinker than what the bird can retain, the oversupply spills onto the litter. The key to achieving the correct pressure settings for your system is to take litter readings.

For the first week of a chick's life, you should adjust the water pressure to the absolute minimum. Virtually all manufacturers of nipple-type drinkers without catch cups recommend using very minimal pressure settings for day-old chicks. This is because the chicks cannot consume all the water discharged at the higher pressure settings. Ziggity recommends settings as low as 1 inch (2.5 cm) of column height pressure.

If after the first week, the litter under the drinkers is too wet, do not turn up the pressure. Stay with the absolute minimum until the litter becomes dry under the lines.

Starting on Day Eight if the litter is dry, select one drinker line, preferably the one that is the most difficult to keep dry. Adjust the column pressure 1 inch (2.5 cm) higher in this test line. Do not adjust the other lines. Wait for about 24 hours and examine the litter immediately under the drinkers. If the litter is still dry, adjust the column pressure in the other drinker lines up by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Repeat this process until a slight dampness develops under the test line. Repeat this process throughout the growout.

If for any reason, litter becomes wet under the drinker lines, immediately reduce column pressure by 50 percent. Wait for the litter to crust over dry and then repeat the above procedure.

By following this simple procedure, producers can assure that they are achieving optimal litter conditions. This will result in better flock performance and better profits. Producers can find other useful management tips at .

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