Water is an essential nutrient a pig consumes during its lifetime. Access to water is especially critical during weaning as the pigs make the transition to dry feed. One of the keys to proper water intake is providing enough drinker access for the pigs.
Doubling stocking pens in wean-to-finish facilities creates a temporary situation where watering sources become less than the recommended number per pig. Adding more water cups to the pen to provide sufficient drinking space during weaning usually results in the pigs soiling the cups after moving half the pigs to new pens.
One product used to add temporary drinker spaces to weaning pens is a nipple bar. The nipple bar consists of an L-shaped stainless pipe with four or six nipples per side being the most common configuration. Based on standard recommendations, allowing for 12 pigs per nipple, this would create additional watering spaces sufficient for 40-60 pigs per pen.
Hook brackets enable the bar to be attached to horizontal gate rods, positioning it at the correct drinking height. As the pigs grow, the bar is easily moved to a higher gate rod and reattached.
When the additional drinker spaces are no longer needed, disconnect the bar from the water hose and move it to storage. Many producers will leave the bar connected to the hose and store it on hooks mounted to the ceiling.
The temporary use of nipple bars to double-stocked, wean-to-finish pens is an effective method of increasing water access for newly weaned pigs.