Exploring Water Quality and Swine Health

Three big things that producers make
sure that their pigs have every single day is adequate airflow, water and proper
nutrition through feed. Nutritionists are constantly changing diets and working to
optimize nutrients in those diets for those pigs but something that people
don’t really take into effect is what nutrients are these pigs getting from
the water itself and how can different levels of different things in the water
maybe impact the pigs growth and performance. Water quality has been an
ongoing discussion in the swine industry for quite a few years. Then when you look
at Minnesota water in particular we were saying well how does the water
here in Minnesota with the minerals that are in Minnesota versus national work
that was done how does that rank and so we get a lot of questions from a
producer side asking us is this water impacting the performance of our pigs in
the nursery? This project made perfect sense. It was a question that our
company has the facilities up in Morris lend themselves in a great way to be
able to get this work done and at the same time being able to work with Brigit,
who had a lot of experience in our system in the past and being able to
support her on her research project and that general support and values the
reason that we had decided that this would be a good collaboration to have
with Minnesota. We’re involved in commercial swine
production helping producers be more effective at what they
do. The work we do, we try to do things that a farmer can’t or won’t do and so
we try different ideas that we get, many of the ideas come from them the farmer,
and try them here on a research center. So we were approached by a large pork
producing company about a year ago with some concerns of poor water quality and
they thought it might be impacting their pigs growth and performance. We quickly
learned that there’s minimal research on water quality as a whole because water
changes from well to well from barn to barn. What our experience is, we went
and we tested 15 different farms and we thought maybe we would not see a lot of
differences between these barns but we ended up seeing tremendous differences.
Moving into the next phase which is the phase that we just started yesterday. We
plumbed in an entire new water system to the nursery barn with capabilities of
delivering three different waters to the pigs in the pens and we built a water
bed system kind of outside the barn to house the three different qualities of
water. That water is now being delivered to 450 pigs on test. What we’re trying
to accomplish is we are hoping to see a difference in that water quality does
impact piglet performance and health and through that we’re hoping that this can
open the door for future opportunity and research and maybe bring to attention
that water quality is important and just because the pig has water in their pen
to drink that it may not be the best water and maybe producers need to dive
deeper into their own animals so they can optimize that performance and health
in their animals. The work we’re doing we hope will be implemented in the
landscape. So, farmers are going to take things up and use them and they’ll use
them because they’re cost-effective for them or it allows them to gain some
market share or it allows them to address concerns that their buyers
concerns that they’re raising and the farmer can say it will
yeah we’ve made a change on our farm based on some of the research is coming
out of the University of Minnesota and because of that our pork product is more
environmentally sustainable. If there are things that we can do that allow us to
provide cleaner water to our pigs and ultimately in the environment all of
that would fit within our sustainability vision and future of what we would like
for Minnesota. I know this project might seem like a very small pinpointed
example of how a sustainability might be met but it’s these small things that we
work on that can add up right and so I think from that lens it fits very nicely
with protecting our water and what the future of our water quality is and how
we can make it better.

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