Female turkey drinking

Published on Nov. 15, 2017

Water sanitation is hard work!

We are pleased to present a highly informative article on water sanitation from our guest contributor, Ross Thoreson. Ross is the President of Best Veterinary Solutions, an animal health manufacturer and distribution company that provides services in all aspects of poultry production. Best Veterinary Solutions is based in Ellsworth, Iowa, USA. 

Ross works closely with the poultry industry to help implement many different types of biosecurity programs with growers in order to increase efficiencies and production on the farm.  

With water sanitation products and equipment systems it seems like everyone is looking for the easiest system that gives good results and doesn’t need to be checked on a regular basis.  We see phrases like ‘Plug and Play’ or ‘Set it and forget it’ come up when talking about water systems.  Everyone is looking for a ‘silver bullet’ when trying systems to address issues on their farm.  After spending a lot of time on farms, looking at different systems and different chemistries to sanitize and disinfect the animal drinking water do you think I have seen any system or product that comes close to this?  NO!  Unfortunately, no matter what product or chemistry you use to sanitize and disinfect the drinking water it is going to take a lot of work, maintenance, and testing to make sure your program is on track and accomplishing the goals you have for that system.  No matter what you do to ‘treat’ the incoming water from the well, I believe it is 100% necessary to have a disinfectant with testable and high enough residual levels that can be measured and maintained IN the building and at the end of the drinking water line.  Closed water systems have created a lot of advantages for growers over the last decade.  Closed water systems are also the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.  They are wet, warm and stagnate. Even if the water is perfect coming into your building, it will not be by the time it gets to the end of the drinking water line.  Whether it is temperature, adding supportive care products, soluble antibiotics, or vaccines, we do a lot of things that will create an environment for bacteria to grow in those closed water systems.  That is why no matter what you do to treat or filter your incoming water, you must have a sufficient amount of residual disinfecting activity to take care of the water system in the building.  This is the only way to make sure you are giving your animals the best water to thrive.  Any animal is going to drink the necessary amount of water to survive.  We want to give our animals the environment to thrive, not just survive.  I am convinced now more than ever, that a great (not good) water sanitation system is one of the best things we can do on our farm to provide our animals with this environment.     

The pressure you continually put on your water systems has become so great, not all disinfectants or sanitizers can keep up with that demand.  I have heard this story many times.  Grower works hard to adjust his pH, runs chlorine level around 750 to 800 ORP at the end of his lines, but still continually has respiratory (Bordetella) or other health challenges.  We have found time and time again that Chlorine simply cannot keep up with the pressure that is continually working on your water system and keep biofilm bacteria under control.  It really doesn’t matter what Chlorine product you use.  Even the newer generation Chlorine products still have limitations that don’t allow it to work like you need it to on your farm.  Hydrogen Peroxide or Peracetic Acid products have limitations as well.  Needing to turn off the system to run other products creates inconsistences in your program and these products also have limited effects at removing existing biofilm at levels acceptable for animals to drink.  

Recommended products and management

The Peracetic Acid products (Cid 2000) are great for cleaning lines between flocks but you use much higher levels when doing this.  Over the past few years we have been working with the Chlorine Dioxide (Pro Oxine) chemistry.  When utilized correctly we have seen this chemistry show superior results compared to any other chemistry.  Chlorine Dioxide has a lot of advantages compared to other chemistries that I briefly discussed above.  The AANE, ELF or TITAN system has allowed us to utilize this chemistry properly and give growers an easier way to administer and use this chemistry.  Even though these systems have shown value in administering this chemistry correctly, like any system it needs checked and monitored on a regular basis.  With any water sanitation system, I think it is important to check the residual levels you want for that product AT LEAST once per week in every barn.  The people that see the best results will check those levels every other day!!  Monitoring your results is VERY important to ensure the system from start to finish is working properly.  To make sure you have the desired levels for the water the animals are drinking, we always recommend checking your levels at the end of your drinking water line or the furthest point from where the product is injected.  That will tell you that those levels are maintained throughout the water system.  It will also tell you how ‘clean’ your water system is.  If you have high levels where the product is injected and little to no levels at the furthest point from injection your system is most likely dirty.  That is one of the best things about Chlorine Dioxide (Pro Oxine).  It has the ability, with low levels acceptable to the animals for drinking, over time will clean up your water system and remove existing biofilm that may be causing you issues on your farm.  We have found no other chemistry with the ability to do this.  

Chlorine Dioxide is biofilm control

A consistent and religious Chlorine Dioxide program will show great results IF the levels are correct and the systems are working properly.  When using this technology, we recommend running your TOTAL residual Chlorine Dioxide levels at 5 ppm and we recommend running your FREE Chlorine Dioxide residual levels at 2 ppm.  So, you will have 3 ppm residual of Sodium Chlorite and 2 ppm of Chlorine Dioxide.  For challenge farms or NAU / Organic farms we have seen growers push their FREE levels above 2 ppm FREE.  Going around 3 to 3.5 ppm FREE Chlorine Dioxide levels.  You want to make sure that your TOTAL residual levels stay at 5 ppm since that is what the label usage allows for.   This is an EPA registered product so following label directions is important.  That is one of the great things about the AANE or TITAN systems.  It allows you to follow label usage claims at 5 ppm TOTAL and get FREE levels that will work and show good results on your farm.  When using Chlorine Dioxide, it is all about managing the activation process and these systems allow you to do that properly.  With other products or systems to achieve those FREE levels you will most likely need to go above the 5 ppm TOTAL residual that is allowed per label usage and you will also need to use a lot more acid to activate the product.  It is also important to note that having both TOTAL and FREE is important.  Residual TOTAL levels (Sodium Chlorite) will play a key role in ‘cleaning’ your system helping to remove existing biofilm.  It also allows for the FREE to stay more consistent in your water system from the injection point to the end of your line.  FREE levels are important because that is what is ‘disinfecting’ your water system.  Both play a key role and work synergistically in giving you the best possible results using this chemistry.   When checking the water system with this chemistry you can simply check the TOTAL levels with test strips provided by your supplier.  Most test strips have a color code on the side of the jar that will show you results after you dip the strip into your water sample.  When checking for FREE we recommend using a Spectrophotometer.  We recommend using a Palintest Kit unit that works very well.  It allows you to test and get exact readings so you know what you have for FREE residual levels.  That is why the Palintest Kit has shown to be very valuable.  I cannot stress how important it is to make sure you consistently maintain those recommended levels I stated above.  If you do not, this system will be just like any other system, average at best.  When following these recommendations and levels we have seen excellent results with this chemistry.  


No matter what water sanitation product you are using, testing and verify what you are doing is a must.  ALL water sanitation programs are going to be hard work, need to be checked on a regular basis, and require maintenance to your pumps and equipment.  That is why it is important to verify what you have for levels at the end of your water system as often as possible.  As I stated above, this should be done no less than one time per week in every building or site but really should be done more.  Even being off proper water sanitation for 24 hours can cause issues for your animals.  That is another advantage to the Chlorine Dioxide chemistry and AANE system.  The only time you need to turn that system off is when you run vaccines or probiotics through your water lines.  You should not need to turn off the system to run any other products through the water system which gives you a much more consistent program.  With so many factors at play it is important to verify that everything in that system is working correctly.  If it is not, the quicker you fix the problem the better your animals will respond.   Closed water systems are great for the farmer and for bacteria.  If you do not maintain a consistent program it will not work like you want.  Chlorine Dioxide has shown to be a great value and shown the ability to significantly improve disease issues caused by poor water when used correctly.  Using it correctly is the key word.  Like anything in life, what you put in will equal what you get out.  It is going to be hard work but I guarantee it will be worth it. 

Hybrid Disclaimer

The information contained herein is a recommendation only and may differ by geographic region. The intent of this article is to assist in improving turkey production.

Reference to any specific commercial product, process, trademark, manufacturer or otherwise does not constitute or imply Hybrid’s endorsement. 

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