Selko pH – A proven solution for drinking water acidification

Water is the most important nutritient. Healthy animals consume twice as much water as feed. According to 3,900 litres of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of chicken and 200 litres for one egg. No doubt they are big numbers but unfortunately less attention is given to ensure clean water is used throughout the process. This is not only essential for animal health but also human health.
On the other hand, it has been recognised that drinking water is the most prominent risk factor for the spread of micro-organisms in animals. There are several measures in place to provide quality water to the stock. Water acidification is one of the tools used successfully to supply quality water in terms of less bacterial contamination.
Water acidification protocols for the prevention or management of certain bacterial diseases have been developed, but in many instances required a drinking water pH at the level of 4.0 or below to be effective. A target pH of 3.5 – 4.0 is crucial to maintain for bacterial control programs to work.
Organic acids have been used in animal production for the past 50 years. An organic acid is an acid that has carbon in it such as acetic acid, benzoic acid, butyric acid, citric acid, formic acid, fumaric acid, lactic acid, propionic acid, sorbic acid etc.
Dissociation of organic acids releases free hydrogen protons that lowers pH, thereby creating unfavourable conditions for bacterial pathogens. On the other hand, the undissociated form of organic acids directly penetrates the lipid membrane of Gram-negative bacterial (E. coli, Salmonella) cells. After entering cell cytoplasm at neutral pH, organic acids inhibit the bacteria’s growth by inhibiting oxidative phosphorylation and causing increased energy expenditure (H=-ATPase pump).
There are many products on the market, claiming to be strong acidifiers for drinking water. These products often contain inorganic acids such as sulphuric, hydrochloric or phosphoric acid. Producers should be aware that products containing these acids (or their salts) can be not only dangerous to the animal if consumed, but also present a significant OH&S issue in regards to handling.
It is important to understand organic acids have their own pKa value. The pKa value equals the pH value at which 50% of the organic acid is dissociated. The undissociated form is desirable to get anti-microbial effect of organic acids. The pH level in the different parts of gut is physiological phenomena of animals and it varies with wide ranges.
So to ensure the optimum efficacy of organic acids the right combination with different pKa values is essential. Selko-pH contains a unique synergistic blend of organic acids with an excellent combination of different pKa values. It has also been demonstrated by research that blends of acids are more efficacious than single acids.
Another important feature of Selko-pH is that it is buffered which makes the product non-corrosive. Selko-pH is a ready to use product with safe handling properties.
The buffering of organic acids used in Selko-pH provides the user with confidence that pH will be lowered to a level inhibiting gram-negative bacteria in the water without causing harm to the animal or reducing water or feed intake.
Firstly, a buffered product is safer, and the dosage is flexible since the pH-level of acidified water will not fall below 3.5. A pH value just below 4.0 is optimal as it is known to inhibit pathogenic enterobacteriaceae.
Non-buffered acidifiers may, however, reach significantly lower pH values. This restricts variable dosages and thereby efficacy at the intestinal level. Due to its buffered stage, an important proportion of the acids will become available in the intestine.
The selective components in the organic acids used in Selko-pH improve the microbial quality of water by inhibiting the growth of gram-negative enterobacteriaceae such as Salmonella and E. coli. Analysis carried out in the Selko laboratory confirms that this approach works effectively. Analysis of nearly 3,500 water samples indicated that about 40% of untreated water samples have enterobacteriaceae levels higher than 100 CFU/ml, whereas acidified water samples reveal a zero result. Acidifying drinking water also reduces contamination with yeasts and moulds, which in turn decreases the risk of blocked nipples and formation of biofilms in the drinking water system. This is important as biofilms can support spreading of bacteria and even viruses through contaminated in the drinking system.

Research shows that using organic acids in drinking water rather than feed has a number of advantages. Selko-pH is a liquid, ready-to-use product. Organic acids in Selko-pH may help to destroy or reduce any vegetative pathogens in the drinking water. Selko-pH has the flexibility to use strategically or throughout rearing period with variable dosages as per requirements to suppress bacterial contamination in water.

By Harun Rashid – Manager Technical Services, AusPac Ingredients

Emily V. De Busser et al. (2011). Effect of administration of organic acids in drinking water on faecal shedding of E. coli, performance parameters and health in nursery pigs – The Veterinary Journal 188, 184-188
Sevinc Koyuncu et al. (2013). Organic acids for control of Salmonella in different feed materials – BMC Veterinary Research, 9:81
Wales, A.D., Allen, V.M. and Davies, R.H. (2010). Chemical treatment of animal feed and water for the control of Salmonella – Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 7(1), 3-15
P. Chaveerach et al (2004). Effect of Organic Acids in drinking Water for Young Broilers on Campylobacter Infection, Volatile Fatty Acid Production, Gut Microflora and Histological Cell Changes. Poultry Science 83:330-334