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High River Pork Producer Claims Award for Environmental Excellence

by 5m Editor
26 June 2006, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2176. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Farm-Scape, Episode 2176

An Alberta pork producer has claimed one of 12 annual awards presented by the Alberta Emerald Foundation for Environmental Excellence.

High River, Alberta pork producer Dennis McKerracher has been named recipient of the 2006 Emerald Foundation award in the "Research & Innovation" category.

McKerracher's one year study, conducted in his 500-head all-in all-out grower operation, was designed to increase drinking water efficiency in commercial pork production facilities and compared the impacts of using ball bite drinkers to using standard water drinker systems.

McKerracher reports the reduction in water usage in the ball bite group was dramatic.

"Over the course of a year in the ball bite group the water usage was reduced by 35 percent.

Now, the next question is what are the negative effects of doing that?

Well, I'm still looking for a negative effect and I have yet to find one.

I was concerned about performance of course. The pigs were weighed in, weighed out, there was no difference in performance.

I was concerned about animal behavior, any welfare effects, there were none.

We were concerned that that amount of reduction in water would make the manure difficult to remove from the pits.

The barn has seven foot pits and we thought, if we had to turn around and just add water to the manure afterwards because the viscosity was too thick, there's no point.

That also didn't happen so it was just a great little trial and it's economically sustainable.

More than that, it makes you money."

McKerracher estimates the lower pumping costs alone will pay for the switch to ball bite drinkers on his farm within a year or two.

However, he notes, an exhaustive economic analysis of the research, being conducted by the Guelph based George Morris Centre, will be released in the near future.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor