Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Effect of Environmental Temperature on Water Intake in Poultry

Written By

Ochuko Orakpoghenor, Ngozi Ejum Ogbuagu and Lawal Sa’Idu

Submitted: October 9th, 2020 Reviewed: December 23rd, 2020 Published: January 11th, 2021

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.95695

Chapter metrics overview

506 Chapter Downloads

View Full Metrics


Water is an essential nutrient in animal nutrition, makes about 70 to 80% of lean body mass and plays important roles in poultry metabolism and thermal homeostasis. Water provided as drinking water constitutes the largest proportion of water available to poultry followed by metabolic water and that available in feed. The intake of water by birds varies depending on the age, environmental temperature, relative humidity, certain diet constituents, type of drinkers used and rate of growth. An increase in environmental temperature tends to cause an increase in water intake while decrease in environmental temperature causes decrease in water intake. Hence, in addition to its nutritional role, water is more important for thermoregulation in chickens especially under hot conditions.


  • water
  • poultry
  • homeostasis
  • temperature
  • thermoregulation

1. Introduction

Water is the most abundant and widely distributed chemical compound in the world [1]. Though water in the natural state is one of the purest compounds known, there is difficulty finding a freshwater source that has not been altered by man [2, 3]. The use of drinking water with high physical, chemical and microbiological qualities is vital in poultry production as one single water source serves several birds. Hence, any problem in water quality would affect a great number of birds [4, 5, 6]. Birds consume approximately 1.6–2.0 times as much water as feed on a weight basis [7]; therefore, any deviation in water quality could have more pronounced effect on poultry health and production than feed [7, 8].

Water is an essential nutrient in animal nutrition and plays roles in poultry metabolism including thermal homeostasis [9], food digestion and absorption, nutrients transport, and waste products elimination from the body [10]. It also makes up 70 to 80% of lean body mass by weight in birds [11, 12, 13].


2. Sources of water in poultry nutrition

2.1 Drinking water

Drinking water constitutes the greatest source of water to poultry and it is made available in drinkers [1]. It is of great concern to poultry producers due to its great variability in quality and potential for contamination [5]. It could be from tap, stored in rooftop tanks, or underground (well) water [7]. The physico-chemical parameters established as indicators of water quality include taste, color, odor, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), hardness, alkalinity, salinity, and presence of cations and anions [14]. High-quality drinking water has been defined as water that contains inclusions, which promote vitality and lack inclusions causing morbidity and mortality [15, 16]. Because no water in nature is 100% pure, different water sources will have varying degree of water inclusions, which directly or indirectly affect poultry performance and welfare [17].

2.2 Water in feed

This is the water available in the feed. However, feeding of wet mashes to poultry has not been recommended for use in large scale commercial poultry production, on the basis that it does not offer any nutritional advantage and is difficult to apply [18].

2.3 Metabolic water

Metabolic water refers to water created inside a living organism through their metabolism, by oxidizing energy-containing substances in their feed [19]. Birds excrete uric acid and can have a net gain of water from the metabolism of protein [20]. Migratory birds have been reported to rely exclusively on metabolic water production while making non-stop flights [21].

Tables 1 and 2 [22] and Table 3 [23] provided data on typical water consumption levels for layers, broilers and turkeys, respectively, at 21°C.

Production stageAge/rate of productionLiters of water/1000 birds
4 weeks100
Layer pullet12 weeks160
18 weeks200
Laying hens50% production220
90% production270

Table 1.

Typical daily water consumption for layers at 21°C [22].

Age (weeks)Liters of water/1000 birds

Table 2.

Typical daily water consumption for broilers at 21°C (liters per 1000 mixed sex birds) [22].

Age (weeks)Galons of water/1000 birds

Table 3.

Typical daily water consumption (galons) for turkeys at 21°C (liters per 1000 mixed sex birds) [23].

In quail chicks, the water requirement has been reported to change with increase in age, quantity and quality of feed dry matter. This has been documented to be 3:1–4:2 g/g body weight at 12–29 days of age following stabilization at around 2 g/g body weight. The water feed ratio for the above period are 2:0–2:3 respectively [24, 25].


3. Factors affecting water intake

Birds, like most mammals, are considered to be homeothermic, and they maintain their deep body temperature at about the same level over a wide range of ambient temperatures [26]. Water intake will vary depending on age, environmental temperature, relative humidity, certain diet constituents, type of drinkers used and rate of growth [27]. Water consumption can be limited if the water is too hot or is contaminated with excess minerals [28, 29]. Water and feed consumption rates are interdependent, so reduced water intake can also lead to reduced feed intake [30].

3.1 Effects of environmental temperature on water intake

It has been reported that the thermoneutral temperature for broiler chicks up to 7 days of age ranges between 28 and 35°C, and that temperatures higher than these may induce hyperthermia and dehydration, leading to a lower feed consumption and delayed growth [31, 32, 33]. On the other hand, a lower environmental temperature induces hypothermia and may lead to pulmonary hypertension in broilers.

Chicks exposed to low ambient temperature (20°C) had lower water intake than chicks brooded at high environmental temperature (35°C) as reported by Moraes et al. [34]. These were related to the heat conserving behavior of these birds, since at low ambient temperature (20°C) they clustered to maintain optimal heat thus reducing the frequency to the feeder and drinker. Similar decrease in water intake has been reported in birds above 2 weeks of age but with increased feed intake and metabolism patterns [35]. Since poultry are homeotherms that can live comfortably only in a relatively narrow zone of thermoneutrality [36], they are forced to increase feed consumption under low temperatures in order to balance their body temperatures [37].

Broilers subjected to acute heat stress have been reported to show higher water intake. The water intake increases in order to maintain thermoregulatory balance [38], as heat stress induces high water loss through the respiratory. This acts as a means to achieve efficient thermoregulation through evaporative cooling. In critical heat stress situations, water loss may cause marked changes in the thermoregulatory balance of poultry [39] and this may result in death.


4. Conclusion

Increase in environmental temperature tends to cause an increase in water intake while decrease in environmental temperature causes decrease in water intake. Hence, in addition to its nutritional role, water is more important for thermoregulation in poultry especially during hot conditions.


Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. 1. Amaral LA. Drinking water as a risk factor to poultry health. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science. 2004; 6(4):191-199
  2. 2. Mara DD, Feachem RGA. Water- and excreta-related diseases: unitary environmental classification. Journal of Environmental Engineering. 1999; 125: 334-339
  3. 3. Hunter PR, MacDonald AM, Carter RC. Water supply and health. PLOS Medicine. 2010; 7(11): e1000361
  4. 4. Carter TA. Drinking water quality for poultry. Poultry Digest. 1985; 2: 50-56
  5. 5. Abbas TE, Elfadil AE, Omer HA. Drinking water quality and its effects on broiler chickens performance during winter season. International Journal of Poultry Science. 2008; 7(5): 433-436
  6. 6. Abbas TE, El Zubeir EA, Arabbi OH, Mohamed HE. Drinking water quality I:Effects on broiler chickens performance during summer season. Research Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences. 2010; 5: 58-63
  7. 7. El Saidy N, Mohammed RA, Abouelenien F. Assessment of variable drinking water sources used in Egypt on broiler health and welfare. Veterinary World. 2015; 8(7): 855-864
  8. 8. Chikumba N, Chimonyo M. Effects of water restriction on the growth performance, carcass characteristics and organ weights of Naked Neck and Ovambo chickens of Southern Africa. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences. 2013; 27(7): 974-980
  9. 9. Bruno LDG, Maiorka A, Macari M, Furlan RL, Givisiez PEN. Water intake behavior of broiler chickens exposed to heat stress and drinking from bell or and nipple drinkers. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science. 2011; 13(2): 147-152
  10. 10. Williams CL, Tabler GT, Watkins SE. Comparison of broiler flock daily water consumption and water-to-feed ratios for flocks grown in 1991, 2000-2001, and 2010-2011. The Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 2013; 22(4): 934-941
  11. 11. Ellis HI, Jehl JR. Total body water and body composition in phalaropes and other birds. Physiological Zoology. 1991; 64(4): 973-984
  12. 12. Latshaw JD, Bishop BL. Estimating body weight and body composition of chickens by using noninvasive measurements. Poultry Science. 2001; 8: 868-873
  13. 13. Salas C, Ekmay RD, England J, Cerrate S, Coon CN. Determination of chicken body composition measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. International Journal of Poultry Science. 2012; 11 (7): 462-468
  14. 14. Zimmermann NG, Douglass L. A survey of drinking water quality and its effects on broiler growth performance on Delmerva. Poultry Science. 1998; 77(1): 121
  15. 15. van der Sluis W. Water quality is important but often over estimated. World Poultry. 2002; 18: 26-32
  16. 16. Ibitoye EB, Dabai YU, Mudi L. Evaluation of different drinking water sources in Sokoto North-West Nigeria on performance, carcass traits and haematology of broiler chickens. Veterinary World. 2013; 6(11): 879-883
  17. 17. Folorunsho OR, Laseinde EA, Onibi GE. (2012). Performance, hematology and carcass characteristics of broiler chickens given water from different sources. Nigerian Journal of Animal Production. 2012; 39(1): 104-113
  18. 18. Forbes JM. Wet foods for poultry. Avian and Poultry Biology Reviews. 2003; 14(4): 1-18
  19. 19. Li H, Yu C, Wang F, Chang SJ, Yao J, Blake RE. Probing the metabolic water contribution to intracellular water using oxygen isotope ratios of PO4. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2016; 113(21): 5862-5867
  20. 20. Alagawany M, El-Hack MEA, Farag MR, Tiwari R, Sachan S, Karthik K, Dhama K. Positive and negative impacts of dietary protein levels in laying hens. Asian Journal of Animal Sciences. 2016; 10: 165-174
  21. 21. Klaassen, M. Metabolic constraints on long-distance migration in birds. Journal of Experimental Biology. 1996; 199(1): 57-64
  22. 22. Poultry Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) 2019. May, 2019 10:51AM
  23. 23. Frame DD. Daily water consumption of turkeys raised in Utah. Poultry Fact Sheet Utah State University Cooperative Extension. 2010
  24. 24. Farrell DJ, Atmamihardia SI, Pym RAE. Calorimetric measurement of the energy and nitrogen metabolism of Japanese quail. British Poultry Science. 1982; 23:375-382
  25. 25. Altine S, Sabo MN, Muhammadn N, Abubakar A, Saulawa LA. Basic nutrient requirements of the domestic quails under tropical conditions: A review. World Scientific News. 2016; 49(2):223-235
  26. 26. Donkoh A. Ambient temperature: a factor affecting performance and physiological response of broiler chickens. Journal of Biometeorology. 1989; 33: 259-265
  27. 27. Fairchild BD, Ritz CW. Poultry drinking water primer. University of Georgia, Athens Cooperative Extension Bulletin. 2012; 1301
  28. 28. Odoi FNA, Afutu MK, Lamptey S. Effect of different salinity levels in drinking water on growth of broiler chickens. Ghana Journal of Agricultural Science. 2009; 42(1): 9-13
  29. 29. Lara SH, Rostagno MH. Impact of heat stress on poultry production. Animals. 2013; 3(2): 356-369
  30. 30. Daniels MC, Popkin BM. The impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews. 2010; 68(9): 505-521
  31. 31. Mickelberry WC, Rogler JC, Stadelman WJ. The influence of dietary fat and environmental temperature upon chick growth and carcass composition. Poultry Science. 1966; 45: 313-321
  32. 32. Aluwong T, Sumanu VO, Ayo JO, Ocheja BO, Zakari FO, Minka NS. Daily rhythms of cloacal temperature in broiler chickens of different age groups administered with zinc gluconate and probiotic during the hot-dry season. Physiological Reports. 2017; 5(12): 1-9
  33. 33. Egbuniwe, I. C., Ayo, J. O., Kawu, M. U., and Mohammed, A. (2018). Behavioral and hematological responses of broiler chickens administered with betaine and ascorbic acid during hot-dry season.Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1-13
  34. 34. Moraes VMB, Malheiros RD, Furlan RL, Bruno LDG, Malheiros EB, Macari M. Effect of environmental temperature during the first week of brooding period on broiler chick body weight, viscera and bone development. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science. 2002; 4(1): 1-8
  35. 35. Qureshi S, Khan HM, Mir MS, Raja TA, Khan AA, Ali H, Adi S. Effect of cold stress and various suitable remedies on performance of broiler chicken. Journal of World’s Poultry Research. 2018; 8(3): 66-73
  36. 36. Blahova J, Dobsikova R, Strakova E. Effect of low environmental temperature on performance and blood system in broiler chickens (Gallus domesticus). Acta Veterinaria Brno. 2007; 76: 17-23
  37. 37. Akşit M, Altan O, Karul AS. Effects of cold temperature and vitamin E supplementation on oxidative stress, Troponin-T level and other ascites-related traits in broilers. European Poultry Science. 2008; 72(5): 221-230
  38. 38. Bruno LDG, Macari M. Ingestão de água: mecanismos regulatórios. In: Macari M, Furlan RL, Gonzales E, editors.Fisiologia aviária aplicada à frangos de corte. Jaboticabal: FUNEP. 2002; Pp. 201-208
  39. 39. Belay T, Bartels KE, Wiernusz CJ, Teeter RG. A detailed colostomy procedure and its application to quantify water and nitrogen balance and urine contribution to thermobalance in broilers exposed to thermoneutral and heat-distressed environments. Poultry Science. 1993; 72: 106-115

Written By

Ochuko Orakpoghenor, Ngozi Ejum Ogbuagu and Lawal Sa’Idu

Submitted: October 9th, 2020 Reviewed: December 23rd, 2020 Published: January 11th, 2021