Pork Insight Articles

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Demonstrating Water Conservation

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre, Production by student on August 3, 2018

Author: Ken Engele, BSA

Reference: Centred on Swine Fall 2018, Volume 24, Number 2

Summary: Research has demonstrated that even when the nipple drinkers are properly adjusted in a finisher barn the pigs will waste 25% of the water. Water wastage on commercial farms from nipple drinkers has been reported to be as high as 40-60%. A recent audit determined that approximately 2/3 of nipple drinkers provide water volumes that exceed the requirement of the pig, sometimes doubling the required volume.

When considering water conservation, barn evaluations determined that the use of a drinking trough save 60% of water, mainly due to reduced water wastage. The water trough did not impede the performance of the pig.

Potential economic benefits were calculated for a commercial farm that implemented water troughs. Over a 24 week period, water disappearance from water troughs was 20% less than from traditional nipple drinkers. For one year and 170 pigs the difference in water disappearance with a trough set up would be 89,250 L.  As well considering the cost of manure disposal (assuming that the excess water ends up in the pits) there would also be a savings of $343 for 170 pigs.

Advantages Disadvantages
Significant water savings

Reduced manure volume

Installed with off-the-shelf components

Improved biosecurity – less traffic to the barn site

One more thing to wash – corners

Higher potential contamination of water in the trough

The producer who installed the troughs for the purpose of this study will continue to use the troughs due to the advantages of reduced water usage and decrease manure volume.


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