Barn forms from an electronic spreadsheet can be used to track total daily water usage of individual groups of pigs, says Mark Storlie, Iowa State University Extension swine field specialist.

“Several operations have water meters and are recording data; however, most operations are not using the information to help manage the pigs,” says Storlie. “The ‘water usage chart’ creates a barn form to not only collect meter readings, but also immediately create a graph. This graph is the key. When a change in water usage is visual, it can act like a yellow, flashing light to serve as a warning. Although the exact cause might not be identified, the caretaker is alerted.”

Storlie collaborated with University of Nebraska Extension swine specialist Mike Brumm and research technologist Sheri Colgan to develop the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded free of charge from the Iowa Pork Industry Center Web site, " target="_new"> www.extension.iastate.edu/ipic/information/WaterchartV100.xls>.

“Water is an important nutrient, but it’s often overlooked,” says Storlie. “Water intake leads to feed intake, so you want to be sure your pigs are getting the water they need. Simply read the water meter once a day at the same time each day, record the information and update the graph on the form. The graph provides a visual awareness of water disappearance and makes it easier for a caretaker to identify changes in the growth process of a group of pigs.”