Dry litter is essential for broiler breeders in rearing. As the legs and foot pads of the birds will be damaged by damp or wet litter, keeping the litter in optimal condition is crucial.

Breeders in rearing are restricted in feed intake from approximately 2-3 weeks onwards. Especially in the period from 6 to 15 weeks, this feed restriction is severe. As birds want to fill up their stomach and also because of boredom, they tend to drink more than they need for optimal digestion and development. This excessive drinking and playing with water can have a very negative effect on litter conditions.

To prevent this spillage and to keep the litter in optimal conditons, it is advisable to use a form of water restriction. After the birds have started up sufficiently, and eventually are beak trimmed, water restriction can be applied. This means in practice that water restriction is applied from 3 weeks onwards.

Birds need water to digest feed. This means that it is essential that water is available during eating and the first hours after finishing the meal. When a form of skip a day feeding is used, water should be available also on no-feed days.

As it is essential that the birds get sufficient water, a water meter must be installed if water restriction is applied. By measuring the amount of water in relation to the feed amount, the water intake can be controlled.
If water is restricted, more competition for water will occur. Enough drinkers must be supplied to avoid this competition to become limiting for some birds to uptake enough water.

Often, water is applied during a specific period of the day, which is restriction in time. Normally, a period of 2-3 hours of water is sufficient during rearing, but it depends on the drinking system. Birds on nipple drinkers need more time than birds on bell drinkers.

When the water to feed ratio is checked, birds should drink at least 1.6 to 1.7 liters of water for every kg of feed they consume. If outside temperatures increase, it might be necessary to enlarge this ratio to 2-2.2 liter of water per kg of feed.

If this amount of water seems to be insufficient:
- check the ventilation and temperature controls
- check if the water meters are working properly
- check if water is spilled somewhere.