Chickens are sensitive to changes in food and water quality. This is why a broiler farmer in Leandra, Mpumalanga, has managed to improve poultry mortality rates simply through addressing water quality.
“Through ensuring consistent water quality, broiler farm performance has been drastically improved,” says Anelia Hough, water treatment consultant at Allmech, leading South African manufacturer of boilers and supplier of water treatment components. “Treating the dam and borehole feedwater eliminates issues of E Coli and Coliforms in the feed water, which indicate faecal matter contamination. This can negatively impact broiler performance and immunity as well as human well-being if ingested.”
Hough explains that the process includes seven steps. First, Allmech installed a flocculation tank with a mixer. “Groundwater and surface water contain both dissolved and suspended particles,” she says.
“Coagulation and flocculation are used to separate the suspended solids portion from the water. Suspended particles vary in source, charge, particle size, shape, and density. Suspended solids in water have a negative charge and since they have the same type of surface charge, they repel each other when they come close together. Therefore, suspended solids will remain in suspension and will not clump together and settle out of the water, unless proper coagulation and flocculation are used. The flocculants we supply accelerate the settling process and are used to aid water filtration.”
Next is lamella screening in a clarifier tank. Clarification processes are commonly used in as the first stage of solids separation in raw water sources such as dams and rivers. Lamella clarifier settlers consist of a series of inclined plates or channels that provide a large effective surface area with a small footprint. Due to their increased surface area and decreased settling distance, sedimentation tanks with inclined walls are able to separate particles more rapidly than conventional tanks.
Then comes pre-chlorination of the raw water. “Typically, chlorine is added to pre-treat the water, to assist with the removal of minerals such as iron and manganese or other compounds that may cause taste and odour issues,” explains Hough. “But higher doses of chlorine are often required for pre-chlorination. However, the residual chlorine is useful in several stages of the treatment process – helping with coagulation, controlling algae problems in sedimentation tank, and reducing odour problems.”
After pre-chlorination, the water passes through a settling tank, which removes suspended solids. It then undergoes additional sediment filtration. “For this customer, we used AFM filtration with auto control valves to reduce the turbidity in the water,” says Hough. “When AFM media is used as opposed to sand, it can remove 90% to 95% of the solids and chemicals, as well as reducing biological oxygen demand (BOD), which is an indication of the degree of organic pollution in water. AFM media provides a practical low-cost solution.”
The penultimate step is disinfection, which removes pathogenic (disease-causing) micro-organisms and improves the taste and odour of drinking water. “This phase was specifically introduced to ensure E Coli and Coliforms are eliminated from the water,” says Hough.
“Finally, we addressed pH control. The client needed to ensure the pH was between 6.9 – 7.8 for broiler production. We used a Seko multi-parameter controller to automatically check and fine tune the pH levels of the feed water. Sodium Hydroxide is used to raise the pH of the water and Hydrochloric acid to drop the pH in the water.”
She says this type of solution can be used in industries requiring water in their production process, as well as irrigation systems, heat exchangers, cooling circuits, boilers, machine tools, car-washing, laundry, food and beverage, chemical and many others.
“pH Correction is also used in industries where specific pH limits needs to be achieved,” she says. “These industries could include leather tanneries, broiler production, laundries, food and beverage, chemical, battery manufacturing and many others.”
In this broiler farm application, the system has proved effective and has recently been upgraded to include an additional borehole.
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