Water is a vital aspect of pig production, from supplying the pig’s basic need of freedom from thirst to maintaining animal health via appropriate cleaning and disinfection. It is also a legal requirement that all pigs have ready access to good quality clean water.” (BPEX)
What can I do to save water?
- Repair all leaks
- Maintain pipework and fittings regularly to protect against leaks
- Check water meters regularly – detecting sudden increases in water consumption will help detect leaks quickly. If a drinker is leaking at 90 drips per minute it will waste around 29 litres of water per day.
- Ensure that outdoor pipes are protected against weather, pig or machinery damage to prevent unwanted leaks.
How much are leaks costing my business?
A leak of 1 litre per minute raises water consumption by the same amount as increasing a pig herd by 22.5 sows including progeny or 240 finisher places.
|Time for which the leak of 1 litre per minute occurs||Litres wasted||Cost at 95p per m3 (1,000 litres)|
Source: BPEX, Costs accurate May 2012
- To reduce amount of water required when washing down, remove solid wastes and pre-soak beforehand.
- Use degreasers and detergents to improve washing efficiency.
- Implement trigger control switches on washing equipment to allow the flow to be stopped when not required.
- Select washing equipment to suit the application; consider the use of adjustable nozzles and /or Turbo nozzles to help aid efficiency.
- Consider the use of hot water to decrease washing time and the amount of water used.
- If considering a building upgrade, or when replacing buildings, look at installing easy clean smooth surfaces.
- Mount water nipples correctly to reduce wasted water. The drinkers should be height adjustable where the size of pig changes during the stocking period, e.g. wean to finish facilities.
- Mounting heights – if there are bite drinkers with the nipples pointed straight out pigs should be drinking from shoulder height, if the nipples are mounted at 45 degrees the nipple should be 5cm (2″) above the back of the pig.
- If there is a variety of pig sizes or the drinkers are not easily adjustable, provide a step for smaller animals. This can result in a reduction in manure volume of 10% compared to conventional nipple drinkers.
- A different option is to use cup or bowl drinkers which waste less water, reducing spillage.
- Make sure that you use the correct sized drinker for the age of pig and ensure it is set up appropriately for high or low pressure systems.
- Check flow rates regularly
- Flow rate determines the time spent at the nipple, water intake and water wastage.
- Too little a flow rate can be just as costly as too much.
|Weight of pig (kg)||Estimated daily reqs (litres)||Min flow rate through nipple drinkers (l/m)|
|Newly Weaned||1.0 – 1.5||0.3|
|Up to 20||1.5 – 2.0||0.5 – 1.0|
|20-40||2.0 – 5.0||1.0 – 1.5|
|Finishing pigs up to 100||5.0 – 6.0||1.0 – 1.5|
|Sows & gilts – pre service and in pig||5.0 – 8.0||2.0|
|Sows & gilts – lactation||15 – 30||2.0|
|Boars||5.0 – 8.0||2.0|
Source: Defra Code of recommendations for the welfare of livestock pigs
Wet and Dry feeders
- Wet / dry feeders used in grower / finisher accommodation reduces water use by 34$ and slurry volume by 20 – 40% compared with dry feeders and a bowl.
- Wet / dry feeders increase consumption of mash diets compared to dry feeders and a separate water nipple, resulting in 5% improvement in average daily live weight gain.
Feeding a diet with a higher level of protein and minerals that the animal can utilise will result in increased water usage.
- Before winter, drain down and close off all pipe lengths that are not in use; this will help prevent the pipes from freezing.
- Insulate all external or exposed pipework and fittings. This will prevent the water heating and freezing over the seasons. Use large diameter pipes where possible as these will be less likely to freeze.
- Be conscious that the water requirement for pigs will increase in hot weather
- Ensure that buildings are correctly ventilated to ensure pigs are not too hot and to prevent the use of water for cooling.
- If water spray cooling systems are used, these should be controlled automatically in preference to manually.
Source: BPEX, 2012, Knowledge Transfer Bulletin, Water Usage: Tips on saving a precious resource.