Pig disease guide in water intakes

28 January 2000

Pig disease guide in water intakes

DETECTING piglet diseases early by measuring the animals water consumption could halve medicine costs and mortality in piglets between 7-30kg.

Launched at Agromek by the Danish National Committee for Pig Production, FarmWatch is a PC program which monitors piglet water consumption using flow meters, said the organisations Thomas Madsen.

"Piglet water consumption follows a distinct pattern over a 24-hour period. It is low between 3am and 10am then rises, falling before 12pm then rising again between 12pm and 5pm.

"Using this pattern, the computer can detect when piglet water consumption is abnormal. For example, when piglets have digestive upsets they drink more than usual for a six hour period, followed by a period of lower than normal consumption.

"The computer programme detects the problem 24 hours before symptoms such as scouring become visible, raising an alarm. Supplying medication straightaway means only half the usual amount is required, reducing costs."

Research on Danish units has shown that mortality is reduced from about 6% to 3% in piglets at this growth stage. There is also less of a negative impact on liveweight gains though data is not yet available to confirm this, said Mr Madsen.

The system can also detect failure in feeding systems and further research should enable differentiation between diseases, including scour and pneumonia, allowing early treatment, he added.

Separate water flow meters are fitted to each weaner groups water supply and cost about £200 each. The software costs about £600.

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