Your pigs’ water use is a lead indicator of feed consumption patterns and herd-health issues. Tracking that water use, however, is not always easy.

Now, there’s a new management tool in the form of an electronic spreadsheet, available from the Iowa Pork Industry Center. Mark Storlie, Iowa State University Extension swine field specialist, points out that producers can use the spreadsheet’s barn forms, known as the “Water Usage Chart,” to track total water use by individual groups of pigs on a daily basis.

“Many operations have water meters and record the data. However, most producers aren’t using the information to manage the pigs. The ‘Water Usage Chart’ creates a barn form to not only collect meter readings, but also create a useful graph,” notes Storlie. “When a change in water use is visualized graphically, it can act like a flashing, warning light. The exact cause might not be identified, but the caretaker is alerted.”

Storlie collaborated with two University of Nebraska colleagues to develop the spreadsheet. Mike Brumm, Extension swine specialist, and Sheri Colgan, research technologist, worked with Storlie to create forms and pages that would be easy for anyone in pork production to use.

The spreadsheet has an overview page, examples of  water disappearance and a completed chart. It also has a place for notes. You will enter specific group information on the data-input page, and print a form appropriate for that group.

You can try out the spreadsheet (“Water Usage Chart”)  by downloading it free-of-charge at IPIC’s Web site at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/ipic/information/Waterchart V100.xls.

The spreadsheet works with Microsoft Excel 97 and newer versions. The security level can be set no higher than medium. Also, the user must enable macros in order for the program to work.