Water is the most essential nutrient a pig consumes during its lifetime. Limiting water intake also limits feed intake resulting in reduced pig performance. Access to water is especially critical during weaning stage as the pigs make the transition to dry feed.
One of the keys to proper water intake is providing enough drinker access for the pigs. This problem can become particularly critical when pigs are moving into a wean-to-finish building where double stocking is typical.
Few would argue the need to add additional drinking spaces when overstocking, but the practical application of adding water spaces is more difficult. Just adding more cups to the pen to provide sufficient drinking space during weaning usually results in the pigs soiling the cups after reducing stocking rates for finishing.
Nipple Bar provides additional temporary drinking spaces
One product used to add temporary drinker spaces to weaning pens is a nipple bar. The nipple bar consists of an L-shaped stainless pipe with four or six nipples per side being the most common configuration. Based on standard recommendations, allowing for 12 pigs per nipple, this would create additional watering spaces sufficient for 40-60 pigs per pen.
Nipple Bar attached to finishing gates
Hook brackets enable the bar to be attached to horizontal gate rods positioning it at the correct drinking height. As the pigs grow, the bar is easily moved to a higher gate rod and reattached.
Nipple Bar moved to ceiling after starting pigs
When the additional drinker spaces are no longer needed, just disconnect the bar from the water hose and move it to storage. Many producers will leave the bar connected to the hose and store it on hooks mounted to the ceiling.
A preliminary study performed last year by TDM Farms (see the full report) pointed to an increase in water consumption and an 8.8% increase in Average Daily Gain when pigs had access to an additional water source provided by the nipple bars.