With the weather turning warmer and fields firming up, producers are turning their thoughts to field work with less attention often paid to the pigs in production facilities. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen many dairy producers hauling manure prior to beginning any field work.

In this region of the U.S., the vast majority of swine manure is fall applied. This reduces the risk of compaction on wet fields and eases the labor crunch as planting time approaches. However, there are producers who have to apply some manure in the spring, especially those with drinkers that waste a lot of water and generate a lot of extra volume to be disposed of.

Note that I said disposed of for the wasted water, rather than utilized which is what we should be saying when we talk about collected feces and urine. Wasted water is expensive. Generally you can figure it costs about $0.015/gal to transport and inject manure, either with draglines or with tankers. Thus you want as much of the product to be rich in the nutrients associated with feces and manure and as little wasted water (no nutrients) as possible.

Twenty years ago, I did my first research regarding the impact of drinkers on pig performance and manure volume. As you might expect, with gate mounted nipple drinkers, water use was 40-50% higher than with wet/dry feeders. While I didn’t do a head-to-head comparison, water-to-feed ratio data I collected suggested that the difference between wean-finish bowl drinkers and nipple drinkers would be similar.

The industry recognizes this as the vast majority of sites now utilize some sort of water saving drinking device. I seldom see nipple drinkers in production facilities.

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