What Chickens Chug-a-Lug
By Alfredo Flores
January 22, 2003
A device developed by the
Agricultural Research Service that
measures how much water chickens receive through automatic watering systems is
being presented today at the International Poultry Exposition in Atlanta, Ga.
The device, called a "nipple waterflow rate stick," will be
unveiled by VAL Products of
Lancaster, Pa. The device was co-developed a year ago by VAL Products and
former ARS nutritionist Berry Lott, now an extension poultry specialist with
Mississippi State University. The new
device could provide chicken growers with a solution to a long-standing
When giving chickens water, growers use pipe delivery systems--or
drinkers--that dispense the liquid through "nipples" that the
chickens can draw from. But up to a year ago, growers were unable to know for
sure just how much water their chickens were getting--vital information that
could be used to gauge the birds nutritional health.
The nipple waterflow rate stick can determine how much water the chickens
are receiving, along with the rate at which the water is distributed and what
materials are being carried in the water.
Roughly 25,000 chickens are housed in the average poultry house, which has
four 400-foot-long pipes with nipples attached. In just one minute, a chicken
grower using the nipple waterflow rate stick can be alerted to low waterflow
that could cause reduced feeding.
The device will sell under the name of the VAL Lott stick. It is named after
Berry Lott, who worked with ARS agricultural engineer Jack Simmons and ARS
chemical engineer Dana Miles to develop the nipple waterflow rate stick.
A recent study by Simmons showed that low waterflow rates can reduce
chickens' weight gain by as much as 20 percent. The unique device calculates
the flow rate of drinkers quickly and easily, so growers don't have to kneel in
litter to take cumbersome measurements.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's principal scientific research agency.