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Blog posts of '2017' 'April'

Effect of an additional waterer on growth performance of nursery pigs


The key objective of this study was to determine the effect of additional access to water on nursery pig performance over a 28-day period. A total of 2,017 weanling nursery pigs were allotted to one of two treatment groups: Control (SC): Dual Standard Cup Waterers; or Test (WC): Additional, 4 Nipple Horizontal Water Bar. Pigs were fed according to the standard, three phase feeding program in place in this commercial unit, and were offered ad libitum access to water and feed throughout the trial. Providing additional access to water with the water bar incrementally increased water disappearance by 0.03 gal/pig. In addition, a positive response in average daily feed delivered (ADFD) was observed in Periods 1 and 3 (14.8% and 9.2% higher, respectively, P<0.05); and 5.2% overall (P<.10) for WB versus SC pigs.   Moreover, ADG was 8.8% greater for WB versus SC pigs in Period 3. Overall, this study provides evidence that the provision of an extra water bar in the nursery phase can translate into 1.4 lbs more feed delivered per pig resulting in 1.1 lbs more gain per pig in 28 days.

Given the well-documented correlation of feed and water intake, the objective of this trial was to determine if the provision of additional access to water would promote higher water consumption, and concomitant growth performance in weanling nursery pigs reared in a commercial environment over a 28-d period.  

Pigs (n=2017) were mixed-sex housed in a single room within in a 4-room, commercial wean-to-finish barn, with a shared feeder between adjacent pens. Pigs were equally allotted to 42 pens to yield a stocking density of 48 pigs/pen (144 sq. ft./pen) Pens were allotted to one of two treatment groups as follows: Control (SC): Standard Cup waterers with 2 per pen located on the right and left sides of each pen, or; Treatment (WB): Control + an additional horizontal, 4-nipple Water Bar .  

Pigs were fed according to the standard, three phase nursery program routinely utilized in this commercial facility, and had ad-libitum access to feed and water throughout the 28-day trial. Water disappearance for the SC and WB groups was monitored via individual mainline water meters supplying water to the standard right and left-side waterers, and the additional water bar.  

Pen weights were monitored at the initiation of the study (Day 0) and thereafter at 7, 14 and 28 days. Feed intake was monitored by total feed delivered to each shared pen. All mortalities and removals over the course of the trial were also recorded.  

Table 1 shows the summary of water disappearance as measured by metered gallons of water. Observationally, the addition of the extra water bar increased water disappearance by 0.03 gal/pig/day or 17.6%. It was noted, however, that the overall consumption of water (as measured by water disappearance) was generally lower that expected for pigs of this age. In general, literature reports indicate nursery pigs typically consume 0.3 gal of water/lb of feed consumed.  

Table 2 provides a summary of performance. A positive response in average daily feed delivered (ADFD) was noted in Periods 1 and 3 (14.8%, 9.2% higher, respectively, P<0.05); and 5.2% overall (P<.10) for WB pigs. This increase in ADFD translated into 8.8% higher ADG for WB pigs in Period 3, however no other improvements in ADG or G/ADFD were noted within the three periods or overall.

Table 1 Table 2Conclusion & Recommendations
This study provides initial evidence that the overlay of a 4-nipple water bar to the standard dual cup waterer system to provide additional access to water, and promote increased water consumption has measurable impact on improved feed intake (as measured by total feed delivered).  

Given the potential performance impact of improved feed intake together with the preliminary results of this trial, it is recommended that the study be repeated with the following modifications in order to more accurately assess the effect of increased access to water:

  • Addition of feed weigh backs to the protocol to improve accuracy in feed intake monitoring.
  • Collection of water disappearance data throughout the full study period.
  • Consideration of calibration or replacement of water meters to improve accuracy of water disappearance monitoring.
  • Randomization of the test variable (water bar) throughout the room to help better account for water line distances.
  • Verification and standardization of waterer flow pressure to recommended levels for nursery pigs (8 fl. Oz./min)
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Chinese 5,000 Sow "Mountain Farm"

Video tour of a 5000-sow farm located on a mountaintop near ShenNonh Dali in the Sichuan Province of China.

This remote sow unit produces and tests breeding stock from an 896 crate farrowing house, 4400 stall gestation building, 50 place boar stud, GDU/ Iso barn, and 15-room testing facility. Hog Slat designed the unit and supplied AirStorm fiberglass fans; feeding equipment including feed bins, sow drops, and Grow-Disk systems. Hog Slat's SowMAX feed dispensers provide simple, dependable ad lib sow feeding in the farrowing crates.

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Feed Management Without Climbing a Bin


The simplest way to check feed volume is to climb up and look inside. Not anyone's favorite chore, wet or icy ladders can make this dangerous and at best it is an educated guess. 

094Bin Flag level indicator mounts on the outside of a bin rotating to yellow when feed level drops below postition.

Level indicators, like the Bin Flag, give a visual alert when the feed drops below a certain point in the bin. They are inexpensive and can connect to an alarm system to send a remote warning. They do not record feed input or usage like a bin weighting system.  

Early attempts at adding load cells to bins had mixed results. Because the load cells were expensive, many systems were set up with load cells on half of the bin legs, or they used I-beams to span between two legs.   Inaccurate readings resulted when feed bridging caused one side of the bin to feed out faster than the other side.   At best, these early systems were 80% accurate and really were more of an expensive early warning system for feed outages than a serious feed management tool.  

The current generation of bin weighting systems gives producers the tools for accurate feed management.


BinTrac® offers a dedicated bin weighing system with a unique load cell assembly in which the bracket functions as the lifting mechanism.   This type of bracket assembly requires less than 1/2" of lift to install, requires no shimming or blocking and can be installed on existing and loaded bins.  

On each bin, the smart summing box gathers input from each load cell and sends it to the BinTrac Pro indicator control than can be located up to 250 feet from the bin. The BinTrac Pro Indicator displays information from up to four bins with a visual bar graph level indicator and digital readout of current weight, 24-hour feed usage, and recent fill weights.  

BinTrac_1_700x440 Load Cell and Summing Box mounted on a bin. BinTrac Pro Indicator.

By adding a HouseLINK™ module, this information is readily interfaced with the ventilation house controller. Options are also available to collect this data remotely via a wireless LAN system to record current inventories and monitor usage to predict and coordinate feed schedules.      

The Maximus® control system provides accurate feed management as a function of their whole house controller.  

Load cells mounted on bin legs send information to a junction box, which in turn transmits, to an individual relay box located inside the building. The relay boxes, representing each bin, are wired in series to the Maximus controller.  


The Maximus controller logs and displays the primary data on a Bin Overview screen (Fig.1) showing Feed Remaining, Amount of Feed Consumed in the last 24 hours, and Feed Consumed per head.   From there, the operator can drill down to an individual bin screen (Fig.2) to view greater detail. In this screen, the operator can also set various warning levels to trigger feed outage alarms by text or email.  

A new product scheduled for release later this year is an automated feed slide that can be configured to close a slide as one bin empties and automatically open the slide on a second bin. Bin slides can also be remotely opened from inside a building, eliminating the need for a farm manager to go outside and risk compromising biosecurity.  

Like all the functions controlled by the Maximus system, this feed data can be viewed and adjusted remotely from a smartphone, tablet or computer. The operator can also schedule personalized reports to be sent by email to other members of the production team.

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Ensure Farm Biosecurity with Key Cards
The introduction of a contagious disease to a farm represents a severe economic impact on a flock.
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