Farmer Focus Livestock: Water bowser saves the day for Chris Fogden

The frosty spells at New Year meant 14 consecutive days water carting. I found out early in my pig-keeping career that trying to thaw out pipes is futile and the best solution to a lack of water supply is to have a decent water bowser.

Our bowser is a 9000-litre former fuel tanker, converted to be tractor drawn. The system involves gravity filling from a header tank, the height of which is the same as the bowser, so filling can be left unattended.

I have also fitted a hydraulic ram to open and close the bowser’s unloading valve from the tractor cab. But, of course, this is the year that it broke and spare parts were not available. On the other hand, as we are midway through depopulation of the breeding herd, there was much less water to cart.

We haven’t been on our site long and the soil is light, so this is ideal for pigs and their health, and we are repopulating on to the same land.

The site is being ploughed and reseeded as the ground becomes vacant and this meant somewhat hastily we sowed some Italian ryegrass in mid-January. It also seemed a good idea for the plough to pull a furrow press drill with the grass seed at the same time. Time will tell if it was money wasted.

The feeling in the pig industry is upbeat, with the weak pound good news. The icing on the cake is the TV campaign from Jamie Oliver, highlighting the plight of the UK pig industry and our high welfare standards. If this mirrors what happened last year in the poultry industry, we are in for a much-needed change of fortune.

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