MLBA6: December / January 2009
The importance of drinking water
Despite its vital importance in terms of animal breeding, drinking water is a factor that is too often neglected. With the main objective being profit, the attention of farmers is logically focused on feed which, as everyone is aware, has increased considerably in price, whereas the design of hydraulic installations, water quality and expertise in the techniques of administering treatments via drinking water are often relegated to the background. It is therefore appropriate to remember that animals drink two to three times more than they eat, that any deficiency in water intake has harmful consequences on animal production and that the best of treatments, if administered in poor conditions, can fail.
Hydraulic installations must be looked after carefully taking into account factors such as: Protecting wells against the risk of contamination (especially during periods of rain), having adequate-sized water pumps, tanks and water lines to reduce pressure loss; good filtration (60 microns) which reduces fouling of the circuits, clogging or leaks in the drinking troughs, and suspended matter which can accelerate bio-film development; a water meter in order to allow regular measurement of water consumption and thus detect any leaks, blockages or unusual variations which would indicate certain pathologies or abnormal stress in the animals; a good awareness of consumption will also reduce mistakes when administering treatments via the drinking water; elimination if possible of traditional head tanks (often used for medication and vaccination) which encourage the development of bacteria and potential contamination by insects or rodents. These tanks are also polluted by sediments from antibiotics which may then affect the titre of vaccines used via the drinking water.
An alternative that is commonly found in some countries is the use of pressurized tanks for wells or connection to main water supply with a pressure regulator and a dosing pump (medicator) for administering treatment. These installations have sufficient water pressure to function properly and to be able to efficiently clean the circuits in periods of depopulation. Another factor is the sufficient number of properly adjusted nipple drinkers and/or drinking troughs in appropriate locations.
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