The Crystal Spring N2 Series Nursery Wet/Dry Feeder is made of 304 series stainless steel with a reinforced 20-gauge shell. Heavier gauges are used for the feed shelf and space dividers. A patented water-space design provides water-level control both in a trough and via a nipple for consistent access to water during the nursery stage while pigs are learning to drink.
“A small amount of water is kept in the trough up to three weeks post-weaning, and then the water to the water space is turned off once pigs have had a chance to learn how to use the nipple,” explains Marvin Wastell, GroMaster president. “Pigs always have access to water while learning how to use the nipple.”
The feeder is designed for pigs from 8 lb. up to 90 lb., and is available in sizes from 18-in. up to 60-in. Single- and double-sided models with up to 14 spaces/feeder are available. The company recommends one pig per inch of feeder space or eight pigs per feeder space. Wastell says the minimum number of pigs per inch of feeder space is 0.75, with a maximum of 1.5 pigs per inch of feeder space.
“There are a few producers who have double-stocked with two pigs per inch and have had satisfactory results,” he explains. “So far, we have not conducted research comparing different pig densities on the feeders, but we do know that we have been getting very satisfactory results with one pig per inch,” he says.
The panel asked if there could be problems with pigs defecating in the feed space. Wastell says he has not seen pigs dunging in the feed space.
Patience notes the big issue with wet-dry feeders in the nursery has been preventing the buildup of wet feed in the bottom of the feeder. “This is an interesting, new concept, and it’s nice to see innovation in feeder design. Also, they presented field data supporting their product,” he notes.
Both Wastell and feeder inventor Jonathan Kleinsasser said feed does not build up in the feeder.
Hugoson asked if producers should have an additional water source available just in case pigs don’t understand how to drink from the feeder. Wastell reinforces that the idea is to have the pigs come to the feeder for both their feeding and watering needs. He suggests the additional water source may lead to confusion for the pigs. “A young pig will drink more water from a pan than they will from a nipple or a cup waterer, so the water space is ideal for pigs to optimize their water intake,” Wastell says.
Pohl asked about the water pressure recommendation for the nipple waterers. “We recommend 3-5 lb./sq. in (PSI) to start with, beginning on Day 8 after placement of the pigs in the barn,” Wastell says. “As pigs get older and are consuming more water, the pressure needs to be increased to 6-8 PSI during the last few weeks on the feeder.”
The feeder has been under development for 18 months with on-farm research to support company claims. The feeder is new to the U.S. industry this year.
“This feeder will help producers achieve 5-lb. average improvement in weight gain in the nursery, while putting less stress on newly weaned pigs and helping producers realize a two-turn payback in their investment,” Wastell says. “If a producer is not happy with the feeder after three turns, GroMaster will buy the feeder back.”
The cost will vary by the size of the feeder and the quantity of feeders purchased. The current retail price for a single feeder ranges from $500, including the water space components for an 18-in. feeder, to $850 for a seven-space, 60-in. feeder.
The feeder’s durability caught the panel’s attention. “It seems like the feeder would require minimal repairs. This appears to be a relatively innovative design for the U.S. pork industry,” Kerkaert says.
“If the feeder is proven in commercial practice to deliver the benefits of wet/dry feeding, it is going to be beneficial. They had data to back up their claims, too,” Patience agrees.