Prairie Swine Centre eNEWS

Water Usage and Wastage From Nipple Drinkers

Pigs Drinking

From Innovation to Adoption: On-Farm Demonstration of Swine Research
Auditing On-Farm Best Management Practices is a collaborative project involving three partnering organizations (Swine Innovation Porc, Centre de développement du porc du Québec, and Prairie Swine Centre).  The goal of this project is to increase the speed of adoption of technologies and innovations that enhance the profitability and sustainability of pork producers throughout Canada.  One of the specific activities set out to audit production facilities - measuring best management practices which are based on scientific research results.  

Results from on-farm audits indicate water usage in nursery and finishing facilities across Canada show approximately 60% of Nursery and 30% of Finishing nipple drinkers are properly adjusted.  Considering water intake of finishing pigs is nearly double that of nursery pigs, significant cost savings can be attained by ensuring nipple drinkers are properly adjusted.

Previous work has shown by adjusting nipple drinker height, water wastage can be reduced by up to 20% in grower/finisher pigs. High flow rates can result in more water spillage from nipple drinkers.  Work on water wastage has shown grower/finisher pigs wasted 25% of water from the nipple drinker at standard flow rate (700 ml/min) and height (5 cm higher than the shoulder height of the smallest pig). However, on commercial farms, water wastage from a nipple drinker is reported as high as 40~60%. The difference between these results may partly be attributed to the improper drinker height and flow rate on pig farms. 

Four pens of eight female pigs were tested during the 12 week study. Water disappearance, water wastage, and feed intake were measured at two stages, i.e.  week 1~4 for growers, and week 8~12 for finishers. In each stage, drinkers were set up at two heights, i.e. five cm higher than the shoulders of the smallest pigs in the pen (standard height) or 33 cm (low height). At each drinker height, two flow rates, 500 and 1000 ml/min, were employed. 

The result of the study indicate nipple height did not affect feed and water intake in either growers or finishers. In addition, water intake was about two times feed intake. The low nipple height increased water wastage by about 10% (from 26% to 35%) in growers and 20% (from 18% to 39%) in finishers. The flow rate of nipple drinkers did not change feed intake and the ratio of water to feed intake, however water wastage was increased by about 7% at the higher flow rate in both grower and finisher pigs. The flow rates employed in the study were lower than that usually used on commercial farms, as higher flow rates could result in more water spillage from nipple drinkers.

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