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Agronomic Services — News Release


Contact: Rick Morris
Regional agronomist, Agronomic Division
(910) 866-5485

Water quality affects poultry production

By Rick Morris, NCDA&CS Regional Agronomist

BLADENBORO — Farmers in southeastern North Carolina have discovered that good drinking water is essential for efficient poultry production. Well water normally has a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5. In recent tests of 95 wells used for poultry drinking water, 16 percent had acidic water with pH values lower than 6.0.

Field research indicates that acidic water can affect poultry digestion, corrode watering equipment and be incompatible with medicines and vaccines. Many nutrients are also found in drinking water. When the levels of certain nutrients are out of balance they can affect poultry performance—by themselves, or in combination with other nutrients and chemicals.

To check water quality, collect a sample and send it to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ solution analysis laboratory. A typical solution analysis measures pH, total alkalinity, electrical conductivity and water hardness as well as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, and sodium. It does not identify problems due to pathogens or pesticides. A staff agronomist reviews lab results and makes relevant comments on usability, hazards and management strategies.

To collect a water sample, follow these instructions. For new wells or ones that have been chemically treated, run the water for one to two hours before taking a sample. For old wells or wells currently being used, run the water for five to 10 minutes before taking a sample. Collect about a pint of water in a clean plastic container. Rinse the container beforehand, but do not wash with detergent.

Send your sample(s) to NCDA&CS Agronomic Division, Solution Analysis Section, 4300 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh, NC 27607-6465. Include a completed solution information form and a $4 processing fee for each sample. information forms are available from NCDA&CS regional agronomists, Cooperative Extension offices, the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division in Raleigh (919) 733-2655, and online at

Test results are also posted on the Internet two days from receipt of sample. Just choose “Find Your Report” from the navigation column on the left side of the page. You will receive a copy of the report in the mail a few days later.

The solution analysis lab also analyzes nutrient solutions as well as surface and ground water. If you are faced with a water quality problem, treating the water may help. Consult with your local agricultural advisor before treating your water.

Growers in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland and Robeson counties can contact me—Rick Morris—for further information on sampling procedures: by phone at (910) 866-5485; or by e-mail at


Last Update August 1, 2007



NCDA&CS Agronomic Services Division, Colleen M. Hudak-Wise, Ph.D., Director
Mailing Address: 1040 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1040
Physical Address: 4300 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh NC 27607-6465
Phone: (919) 733-2655; FAX: (919) 733-2837