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  • Writer's pictureMark Beaven

Waterlines: A Hidden Source of Pathogens to Livestock and Poultry


Maintaining a healthy and disease-free environment is crucial for livestock and poultry farms. While farmers are well aware of the importance of hygiene in animal housing, feed, and equipment, one often overlooked area is the waterlines. These conduits, responsible for delivering water to animals, can become a breeding ground for pathogens if not properly cleaned and sanitized. In this blog, we will explore the significance of waterline hygiene and the steps necessary to prevent disease outbreaks on farms.

Understanding the Risks

Water, a vital resource for animals, can inadvertently introduce pathogens into the farm's ecosystem. Bacterial, viral, and parasitic contaminants may infiltrate the water supply through various sources such as groundwater, surface water, or municipal sources. Once inside the waterlines, these pathogens can multiply rapidly and pose a significant threat to the health and productivity of livestock and poultry.

Pathogen Transmission

Contaminated waterlines create an ideal environment for pathogens to thrive. The constant moisture, coupled with biofilms that develop within the pipes over time, provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria like Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Campylobacter. These bacteria can cause diseases ranging from mild gastrointestinal issues to severe infections that may even lead to mortality.

Furthermore, waterborne viruses such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease virus can also be introduced through contaminated waterlines. Parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, can be transmitted via water as well.

Prevention through Cleaning and Sanitizing

To prevent disease outbreaks and maintain the overall health of animals, it is essential to prioritize regular cleaning and sanitization of waterlines. Here are some effective measures to consider:

  1. Flushing: Begin the cleaning process by thoroughly flushing the waterlines. This step helps remove any accumulated debris, sediments, and residual organic matter, reducing the risk of pathogen growth.

  2. Sanitizing during Cleanout: With no animals having access to the water system, and using a standard inline medicator, inject PrevailTM Disinfectant/Cleaner into the waterline at a minimum of a 1:128 dilution (0.75%) by opening a tap at the end of the water line and leaving water run until you notice white foaming water running out (indicating that PrevailTM is now throughout the water line system). After letting sit for a minimum of 5 minutes for contact time, remove the Prevail from the Medicator and flush the lines out with clean water. Ensure that you also clean the Medicator out after by drawing clean water through Medicator.

  3. Regular Maintenance: Implement a routine maintenance schedule to prevent the buildup of biofilms and sediments. Regular inspections, repairs, and replacement of damaged waterlines or components will help maintain the integrity of the system.

  4. Monitoring Water Quality: Regularly test the quality of water supplied to the farm to ensure it meets the necessary standards. Monitoring for indicators of contamination, such as high levels of bacteria or parasites, will allow timely intervention before they impact animal health.

Benefits of Waterline Hygiene

By prioritizing the cleanliness and sanitization of waterlines, livestock and poultry farms can reap numerous benefits:

  1. Disease Prevention: Clean and sanitized waterlines significantly reduce the risk of pathogen introduction, minimizing the likelihood of disease outbreaks among animals.

  2. Enhanced Animal Welfare: Healthy animals experience improved overall welfare, which positively impacts their growth, productivity, and quality of life.

  3. Cost Savings: Preventing disease outbreaks through proper waterline hygiene reduces the need for costly treatments, medications, and potential losses associated with sick animals.

  4. Food Safety: Maintaining a hygienic water supply contributes to the production of safe and healthy food products for consumers.


Waterlines play a crucial role in livestock and poultry farming, and their cleanliness

should never be underestimated. Neglected waterlines can become a hidden source of pathogen introduction, posing a significant risk to animal health and farm productivity.

By implementing regular cleaning, sanitizing with PrevailTM, and maintenance protocols, farmers can minimize the chances of disease outbreaks and ensure the well-being of their livestock and poultry. Prioritizing waterline hygiene is an investment that pays off in the form of healthier animals, reduced costs, and improved food safety.

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