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Managing Water Cleanliness

Managing water cleanliness

In our last blog, we covered some of the impurities found in water on farms, and how they can affect the performance of your birds. This blog will focus on what you can do to ensure that the water you supply to your birds will support their health and productivity.

Water Tanks

Water Tanks can be a source of bacteria if not managed correctly. A common mistake is to buy water storage with view to future expansion, but if the tank is too large, there is a increased likelihood of standing water, increasing the risk of bacterial growth. It may seem obvious, but it is essential to clean the tank regularly, to ensure any bacteria are not left to multiply.

Where header tanks are used, they must be covered and cleaned regularly, otherwise they can be all too easily contaminated by residues local to the header tanks.


Biofilm – is a thin layer of mirco-organisms which can attach to solid surfaces and contains a community of bacteria and other microorganisms. It can develop if the water is too warm or has been standing for too long


Keeping on top of your water cleanliness is a priority and regular testing is an imperative to ensure that any measures you have put in place to manage you water are working.

Biofilm is most likely to develop in pipes with relatively narrower circumference. When you test your water, make sure you take samples from every stage of the system as well as ‘swabs’ of the inside of some of the narrower pipes to make sure no material is clinging to the sides.


Between flock, deep cleans are vital, but there are a number of ongoing water cleaning options available to you:

  • UV filters – these are environmentally friendly and do not use any additives, however it only cleans the water at the entry point of the system rather than throughout the system. It does not break down biofilm therefore and filters much be changed regularly to keep it effective.
  • Hydrogen peroxide –is often used to clean between flocks, but at lower levels it can also be used when the birds are in situ. Stabilised variants are the most effective.
  • Chlorine dioxide can help with managing pH levels, and is effective in low doses
  • Chlorine is relatively cheap and is safe to use, but it will not break down biofilm. It is effective against bacteria, and at the right pH, but can be made inactive by high mineral content.
  • Adding acid is also an option for breaking down limescale and biofilm, but it will alter the pH of the water and should be closely monitored. It can also help with digestion and minimising diarrhoea, which improves performance but on the downside does have a corrosive effect on metal pipe work and fittings.

Sadly, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and you may need to implement more than one cleaning approach to ensure that your water stays as clean and balanced as possible in order to optimise flock productivity.

Ongoing Treatment

  • Keeping water cool, reduces the risk of biofilm development which keeps water cleaner.
  • Cooler water is also more palatable to the birds, which will increase the consumption by the flock which in turn keeps them healthy.
  • Moving water is naturally cooler so an automatic flushing system (or even a manual one) will go some way to help in this area.

If you are worried about your water supply or have questions relating to free range egg / pullet production, or anything related to it, please get in touch here or call us on 01962 764555.