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Comparison of Nipple Drinkers for Turkeys PDF Print E-mail
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Jesse L. Grimes, Ph.D. Department of Poultry Science; North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 27695-7608
and Abel G. Gernat, Ph.D. Escuela Agricola PanAmerica  Tegucigalpa, Honduras

  The use of nipple drinkers for rearing broilers has become common. However, the use of nipple drinkers in the turkey industry is restricted to the brooding period except for some trials with commercial hen and tom grow-out. Even during the brooding period, there are many questions about what is the best type of drinker and optimal age of transfer to grow-out nipple drinkers (or to open drinkers).

There were six different drinkers tested including the control and five nipple drinker systems. The control was the Plasson Turkey Bell (mini-bell for 0-6 weeks, adult drinker after six weeks). The nipple drinker systems tested were the Plasson Easy Start, Valco Turkey Drinker, Lubing Traditional (commercially known as FeatherSoft® high flow nipple with Littergard®), Lubing Easy Line, and Ziggity Big-Z Activator. Birds were brooded and reared on the Valco and the Easy Line. Birds were brooded on the other three drinkers and switched to bell drinkers at six weeks.
   Three experiments were conducted with Large White Commercial Turkeys reared using six drinker types. Performance parameters were used to measure the efficacy of these treatments. In Trial 1, six-week body weights of toms reared on the Plasson Easy Start and the Ziggity Big-Z Activator were less than the body weights of those toms brooded on the Plasson Bell. Differences in body weight due to drinker type remained through 10 weeks of age. At 20 weeks, body weights of toms brooded on the Lubing Traditional Nipple and brooded and reared on the Valco Turkey drinker were significantly lower compared to body weights of toms reared on all other drinkers. There were no differences in feed conversion by drinker type until 20 weeks of age.

   Trial 2 – experiment 1 with hens was terminated at three weeks because of excessive mortality by strain and drinker type. Hens of two strains reared with the Easy Line did not show a desire to find the water in the bottom of the drinker well. One strain, in particular, demonstrated less activity in general than the other strain and experienced high mortality especially on the Easy Line drinkers.

   In trial 2 – experiment 2, plastic “brooder” balls provided by Lubing were added to the wells of the Easy Line drinkers. There were no issues with the poults finding the water in this trial nor was there any problem observed in the tom trial where the plastic balls were also not used. The body weight of hens brooded and reared on the Plasson Bell and the ValCo Turkey drinker was higher compared to body weights of hens brooded on the Plasson Easy Start and the Ziggity Big-Z Activator with the body weights of hens on the Lubing EasyLineTM being intermediate at six weeks. The Lubing Traditional Nipple used for brooding yielded significantly lower hen body weight compared with all other drinkers through 10 weeks of age. By 16 weeks of age, there were no longer differences in hen body weight due to drinker type. Hens demonstrated a capacity for compensatory gain once they were switched from nipple drinkers to open drinkers. Drinker type did not have a significant effect on hen feed conversion. 

About the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

   Formed in 1947, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is the world’s largest and most active poultry organization. Membership includes producers and processors of broilers, turkeys, ducks, eggs, and breeding stock as well as allied companies. The association has affiliations in 26 states and member companies worldwide. The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association also sponsors the annual International Poultry Expo. For more information go to


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