Water Wastage in Swine Barns

Brian Cotton, Manitoba Agriculture and Food, Brandon

The VIDO Swine Technical Group at Saskatoon looked at the amount of water that was either wasted through the use of inefficient water systems and the amount of wash water used in various swine facilities.

The size of the facility used throughout the calculations was 108 farrowing crates that is turned 13 times per year; 14,000 nursery piglets and a 5000-head feeder barn turned 2.8 times per year for 14,000 pigs.

Water wastage had been documented to exceed 40% of the water provided by a nipple drinker. This would mean that a 5000-head finisher barn would need an additional 5.5 million litres of annual storage capacity just for the wasted water. At 0.6 cents/gallon for manure application this wasted drinking water would add about $0.61 per pig sold.

Wash water in the farrowing crates averaged about 152 litres of water per crate. With 108 crates washed once per cycle, there would be 1404 crate washings per year, for a total of about 18.7 litres of wash water per pig sold.

Washing the nursery pens used about 10 litres per pig.

The finisher barn was the largest user of wash water and averaged about 80 litres per pig. Water for washing 16 finisher barns ranged between 21 and 246 l/pig.

The use of an efficient drinking device will help reduce water wastage. Presoaking pens before they are thoroughly washed will help to remove manure more easily and save on wash water and the cost of having to remove it from the manure storage.

In conclusion, some points to remember are:

  • Sustainable growth in the swine industry will be enhanced by recognition that water is a limited natural resource.
  • Management of water as an essential nutrient can improve productivity.
  • Management of wash water use can affect the total amount of slurry production. Benchmarking water use is one of the first steps in development of water management techniques.