Acidification of drinking water: why and how?

In pigs and poultry, acidification of the drinking water can be a very effective tool to prevent or lower the need for antibiotics. Acidification can have multiple beneficial effects, such as improved palatability and thus water intake, improved digestion, prebiotic effect and reduction of pathogens (e.g., Salmonella). Each type of acid or acid mixture has its own specific properties. Moreover, disinfection products or other compounds present in the water can interfere or react with acids. In some cases, organic acids can cause slime formation due to growth of yeasts and fungi. Always consult your vet/advisor to discuss which acid (mixture) suits your drinking water system and water quality best. Once a suitable acid (mixture) is chosen, the correct dosage is the key to success.

How to determine the correct dosage:

1. Fill a bucket with 10l of the water to be tested.
2. Put on safety glasses and acid resistant gloves.
3. Take a disposable syringe of 10 or 20 ml and fill it with the acid (mixture) to be tested.
4. Add 5 ml of the acid (mixture) to the water and measure the pH with a pH strip or pH meter (both for sale at the pharmacy). Repeat this step until you reach the desired pH (typically around pH 4; discuss this with your vet/advisor)
5. Write down how much acid (mixture) you added to the water (= ‘x’ ml)
6. Calculate the dosage:
x millilitre of acid added to 10 litres of water =>
DOSAGE = x/10 litre of acid per 1000 litre of water
7. Repeat this procedure every time the water source or type of acid (mixture) is changed