, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 437-447

The ratio of the water and food consumption of chickens and its significance in the chemotherapy of coccidiosis

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An investigation was made of the relationship between the water and food consumption of healthy and sick chickens. Using coccidiosis as a disease model, and uninfected chickens as healthy controls, male birds of an egg-production breed and males and females of a meat-production breed were found to have simultaneously reduced water and food intakes 4 days after infection with Eimeria acervulina or E. maxima, and from 4 to 6 days after infection with E. tenella. This phenomenon was associated with reduction of weight gains and poor food conversion ratios. Whether birds were healthy or sick, and regardless of the degree of reduction of dietary intake, there was a more or less constant relationship between their food and water consumption. The ratio of the weights of water and food consumed had a value of about 1.9, with a range of 1.1–2.4. It is concluded that neither water nor food has an advantage over the other as a vehicle for chemotherapy. However, other factors, such as ease and speed of administration, and avoidance of adsorption onto food particles, favour the drinking-water route.