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Prevent the spread of disease by properly cleaning water lines

One of the most basic — yet often overlooked — elements of pork production is water. A clean, safe palatable water supply ensures adequate hydration, encourages feed consumption and helps prevent disease.

Today’s drinking-water dosing systems let producers easily provide electrolytes and antibiotics, when needed, to large numbers of animals. But before these benefits can be realized, water must be checked for microbial and chemical quality.

Producers seeking to improve their water quality need to start with a thorough cleaning of the water-distribution system, stressed Susan Watkins, PhD, University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, speaking at the recent American Association of Swine Veterinarians meeting1.

Beginning a daily water-sanitization program without a thorough cleaning of the entire water-distribution system can create more problems than it solves, she warned.

Watkins explained that sanitizers can potentially react with the biofilm frequently found in water lines, resulting in an off-taste that keeps the animals from drinking adequate amounts of water.

Even low levels of a sanitizer flowing through dirty water lines can affect biofilm found in the water lines, causing the biofilm to slough off, potentially clogging nipples. In an opposite scenario, a sanitizer can trigger the biofilm into creating a stronger protective wall that keeps pathogens safe within the water lines.

Biofilm and scaling also act as potential food sources and hiding places for harmful pathogens such as E. coli, Pseudomonas and even Salmonella. Scaling in the water lines resulting from a buildup of calcium and magnesium reduces flow volume and requires an acid cleaner for removal.

Salmonella can live for weeks in water-line biofilm, resulting in a continuous source of contamination for animals,” Watkins noted.

Today’s water products, including acidifiers, create a unique set of challenges within the water line.

“These products create a low pH in the water lines that encourages the growth of yeasts and molds in dirty water lines,” Watkins said. “This results in a gooey slime that clogs nipples and creates multiple problems in the water system.”

Producers planning to clean their water systems need to look at the entire system. For optimum cleaning with the least amount of contamination, the system should be treated in two steps — first the well room and underground lines, then the barn lines.

“By cleaning the well and underground lines and then draining that water from a faucet at the beginning of the barn, producers are able to keep the dirty water from their distribution lines from going through their drinker lines,” Watkins explained.

When drinking lines in the barn are filled with cleaning solution, Watkins encourages producers to let it stand in the lines as long as possible, 72 hours being optimum. Should mineral build-up remain, lines will need to be cleaned again with an acid cleaner.

An ongoing daily water-sanitation program will help prevent the return of biofilm in the water system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Watkins S. Clean water lines optimize animal health. Proceedings from the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, 2017:12

 

 

Photo courtesy of the National Pork Board.

 

 

 

 


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