Water meters are now being fitted as standard equipment to all new pig houses supplied by ARM Buildings.
Tim Miller, ARM’s environmental specialist, said: “Water, often described as the ‘forgotten nutrient’, is vitally important for a pig’s health, growth and general well-being, yet we still know relatively little about its consumption.”
ARM has offered water meters as an optional extra and many farmers have installed them. Now, with more use being made of monitoring and data retrieval from piggeries, this information is seen as a useful resource.
Mr Miller added: “We already have a huge database of water consumption and this is giving us valuable information on behaviour patterns. Not only can we log how much pigs are drinking, we can track the effects of a different diet or sometimes even detect potential changes in health status.
“At it’s most basic, a water meter can tell a farmer if there is a water leak or if drinkers are not set up properly.”
Water meters are being used in farrowing, weaner/grower and finishing houses. They are fitted in each room, usually containing between 200 and 600 pigs.
Water consumption from over 72,000 pig places has been monitored to date and already this is showing some interesting patterns. For instance, in hot weather pigs don’t normally drink more but quench their thirst earlier in the morning or later in the evening. While finishers tend to drink am and pm, sows in the farrowing house drink every hour or so throughout both the day and night.
Mr Miller said: “We will be analysing figures from a variety of piggeries and classes of stock to establish any significance in consumption patterns and correlate them to management systems.”