Water ManagementWednesday, June 20, 2012
Five tips on better water management from Jaydee Smith, Swine Production Systems Program Lead at Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in that organisation’s Pork News and Views newsletter.
Water is an essential element in livestock production.
It is important to manage this natural resource
carefully for best production and financial
results. Here are five ideas on how to do that.
Start by doing a water audit. Wasted water costs money to pump and to dispose of. If you are serious about water management, install a meter and compare consumption with what the animals need, as a means of detecting problems. For grower and finisher pigs, water requirements have been found to be 2.3L for every kilogram of feed consumed. For sows on a farrow-to-finish farm, average daily usage has been found to be about 20L per sow.
Second, check drinker placement. Mounting nipple drinkers correctly reduces wasted water. For drinkers pointed straight out pigs should drink from shoulder height. For drinkers mounted downward at 45°, the drinker should be 5cm above the back of the pig. Mounting lower will increase water wastage because the pigs cannot access the drinker properly.
Generally, drinkers should be set for the height of the smallest pig in the pen. In research trials, however, providing a step for smaller pigs instead of mounting the drinker lower resulted in a 13 per cent reduction of water waste, and reduced manure volume by 10 per cent compared to a conventional set-up.
|Water consumption by swine|
|Swine type||Weight range (kg)||Water requirement rangea (L/day)||Average typical water useb (L/day)|
|a A result of the animals’ environment and management
b Typical consumption over a year on a daily basis under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.
c Includes unweaned piglets.
Third, check drinker flow rates. Flow rates determine
time spent at the drinker, water intake and
water wastage. Too little is just as costly as
too much since it will adversely affect feed intake
and animal growth performance. Recommended
flow rates are 1,500ml per minute for lactating sows,
and 700ml per minute in the grow-finish barn.
Fourth, consider alternatives to nipple drinkers. Cup or bowl drinkers have been shown to waste less water, reducing spillage by 10 to 15 per cent. Wet/ dry feeders in the grow-finish phase reduce water used by 34 per cent, and slurry volume by 20 to 40 per cent compared with dry feeders and a bowl. Wet/dry feeders also increase consumption of mash diets compared to dry feeders and a separate drinker, resulting in a five per cent improvement in average daily gain. Be sure they are properly adjusted.
Finally, assess the diet. Feeding a diet containing excessive protein or excessive mineral levels results in increased water usage.
And, of course, remember that temperature impacts water requirements. For example, every 1° above 20°C results in a sow drinking 0.2L more water each day.
For more information, refer to the OMAFRA Factsheet ‘Water Requirements of Livestock’ (716/400).