Providing birds with a clean water source every day is a big part of insuring the health of both your flocks and bottom line, according to Susan Watkins, University of Arkansas.

Dr. Watkins has devoted much of her career to finding practical ways to keep water lines clean and deliver birds with a safe water supply. “Water lines are not transparent and are often forgotten,” she said at the Midwest Poultry Federation grower workshop. Watkins offered this guide to cleaning water lines on broiler farms.


  1. After birds are removed from the house and before litter cleanout, flush all of the water lines.
    1. Prepare a three percent cleaning solution.
    2. For barns with water holding tanks, mix three gallons of a hydrogen peroxide product (ProxyClean, ProClean or 35 percent hydrogen peroxide) into 97 gallons of water. As an alternative to hydrogen peroxide, use two percent CIC 2000 (but only leave in the water lines for four hours). Pump the solution into the water lines, you may need to more solution if your barn is longer than 500 feet.
    3. If you don’t have a holding tank, then prepare a stock solution in a 100 gallon stock tank or barrel. Use a submersible one quarter horse power pump with a water hose long enough to reach the medicator connector. Connect the sump pump to the water line at the medicator and pump the cleaning mixture into the lines.
    4. Once the lines are filled with cleaning solution, activate the nipple drinkers with a broom.
    5. Let the water sit in the lines for at least 24 hours, longer is better. (Only keep the water in the lines for four hours if using CID 2000)
    6. Flush product from the lines with clean water.
  2. For hard water farms
    1. Fill lines with a solution of citric acid and let stand for 24 hours.
    2. Acid preparation: Mix four to six packs of citric acid per gallon of water to make a stock solution. Add more acid to the stock solution if scale is a serious problem.
  3. Final flush for removing citric acid
    1. Prepare a bleach stock solution of eight to 12 ounces of bleach in a gallon of water.
    2. Make sure your medicator is pumping the bleach stock solution as the acid is flushed from the lines.
    3. Leave the bleach solution in the water lines for four hours.
    4. Flush the lines with water until the chlorine smell is gone.
  4. Start birds on water with three to five parts per million free chlorine residual at the end of the drinker line. Start with a stock solution of four ounces of bleach per gallon of water, then add more bleach to achieve three to five parts per million of free chlorine. Do not mix chlorine and acids in the same stock solution.