Enhancing growth rate and well-being of pigs raised on pasture through the use of mobile evaporative cooling while improving pasture fertility and reducing environmental degradation
The project reached some basic achievements in 2013. Due to complications acquiring an adequate quantity and uniformity of piglets the project requested an extension into the 2014 season. This extension was granted. In 2013 the mobile cooling wagon was 90% constructed and operational on a test group of piglets with great success – though no formal data has been compiled. Success can be defined here as the piglets appeared to live comfortably under and around the cooling wagon during the hottest days of the summer, grew at an adequate rate and the wagon was moved through our pastures successfully and uniformly spreading the pigs impact on the land. Refinement of the cooling wagon operation and use along with accurate data logging will resume for the 2014 season. A consistent and uniform group of piglets has been arranged for the 2014 season as well.
Cooling wagon was constructed according to plans, on-time and within budget. The cooling wagon was successfully used as a mobile shelter/cooling platform with a group of growing pigs – throughout the entire season. No major obstacles impeding success were discovered. Acquiring an adequate group of uniform piglets was the major impediment to success in 2013. We anticipate this problem being alleviated in 2014.
The mobile cooling wagon was constructed and 90% completed by early June 2013. The wood framing (8×22′) was completed, tubing and spray emitters installed, as well as timers, pumps, solar panel and battery system. Two 250 gallon water tanks were placed on the deck of the wagon and all tubing connected. Two cup waterers were also installed on the rear of the wagon allowing the growing pigs access to fresh and clean drinking water at all times. The data loggers were tested at varying intervals through the season, with more testing needed before implementation with study. Determining prime locations for accurate data location remains an issue.
No control group was used in 2013 due to a lack of adequate piglets. However, an experimental test group of piglets was matched with the mobile cooling wagon for the entire growing season. The fifteen piglets used the cooling wagon as their primary shelter on pasture and as a water drinking station. A one ton hog feeder with 12 openings containing a 16% protein pellet was placed on pasture with the piglets – providing supplemental free-choice feed. The wagon and piglets were moved throughout a 3 acre pasture as needed to both spread manure load impact as well as to provide continual access to fresh forage for the growing pigs. The even spread of manure on pasture was excellent and the pigs seemed to enjoy the routine cooling mist provided by the automated cooling system. No weight measurements were taken.
Occasional problems which need to be addressed in 2014 include preventing damage by the pigs to the misters which hang under the deck of the wagon. Extending the sides of the wagon to provide more shade. Ensuring pump system integrity and adequate charging of battery to support necessary functions.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Final outcomes will be discussed in our final report.
3636 Horsebarn Road Ext
Storrs, CT 06269
Office Phone: 8604861008