Posts Tagged ‘water’

dry pond and ban

flooded corn field

In 2016, many areas of the province saw very warm and dry conditions, and many wells were still dry leading into the winter. In other years, like the start to the 2017 growing season, the province experienced periods of excessive rain, leading to saturated soils and flooding. Both situations create many challenges for livestock and poultry farmers.

No one can control the weather, but we can plan for it. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) encourages you to plan for future weather – conserving water and using it efficiently can help during low water conditions, and having effective drainage systems in place can help with saturated soil and runoff.

Things to consider for low water conditions:

  • Plan ahead: Know how much water your animals need and try to predict how long it would take for your water sources to run dry. Have a contingency plan ready that you can carry out in case your water sources have maxed out. Use the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s Emergency Plan low water worksheet to help you with the contingency plan.
  • Include a list of alternative water sources in your contingency plan. This can include water haulers and well drillers. Keep in mind that these sources may be unavailable at the height of low water conditions, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
  • Think about installing water-metering equipment to get accurate measurements of water use.
  • Apply for a Permit to Take Water through the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (special rules and circumstances apply).
  • Monitor heat stress in your livestock and have management solutions on-hand when heat stress runs high, but water levels run low.
  • Look at your feed inventory now. If stocks are low for this time of year, consider looking for additional or alternative feed for fall and winter. It’s not too early!

Things to consider for excessive water conditions:

  • Look at your feed supply, as excessive rain can affect planting and harvesting times.
  • Make sure you have enough straw or other bedding materials.
  • Examine your property, your buildings and hard surfaces (like loading areas and parking lots) for flood risk areas. Install eavestroughs to redirect water away from your buildings and create a drainage plan. Plan the steps you’ll need to take to move livestock, feed and equipment in the event of a flood.
  • Create a plan to manage barnyard/feedlot runoff. Determine if you have enough liquid manure storage capacity to store extra material from wet barnyards, and have a plan ready if you don’t (such as using a neighbour’s storage). Also consider what you’ll do to avoid manure storage overflow from rain and flood water.
  • Have a plan ready in the event that manure spreading is delayed due to rain and your storages are full.
  • Think about your electricity generators – are they adequate for your farm’s needs in case of a power outage?
  • Pre-plan alternate routes to avoid travelling on flooded roads, considering services both into and out of the farm (such as feed trucks).

OMAFRA is working with other provincial ministries, conservation authorities and other partners to develop ways to help you manage water. There are existing resources that can help you, too:

Ontario has business risk management programs in place to help you when factors beyond your control affect your operation. Contact Agricorp for more information about these programs.

Visit OMAFRA’s Adverse Weather, Low Water, Irrigation and Drainage web pages for resources to help you prepare for various weather conditions.

Do you have questions about contingency planning? Contact OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.


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Water management

Water is an essential element in livestock production.  It’s important to properly manage this natural resource, especially when the weather turns warm.  Here are five ideas on how to do that.
Start by doing a water audit. Wasted water costs money to pump and to dispose of.  If you’re serious about water management, install a meter and compare consumption with what the animals need, as a means of detecting problems.  For grower and finisher pigs water requirements have been found to be about 2.3L for every kilogram of feed consumed.  For sows on a farrow to finish farm, average daily usage has been found to be around 78L per sow. 
Second, check drinker placement.  Mounting nipple drinkers correctly reduces wasted water. For drinkers pointed straight out pigs should drink from shoulder height. For drinkers mounted downward at 45º the drinker should be 5cm above the back of the pig. Mounting lower will increase water wastage because the pigs can’t access the drinker properly.  Generally, drinkers should be set for the height of the smallest pig in the pen.  In research trials, however, providing a step for smaller pigs instead of mounting the drinker lower resulted in a 13% reduction of water waste, and reduced manure volume by 10% compared to a conventional setup.
Third, check drinker flow rates. Flow rates determine time spent at the drinker, water intake and water wastage, but too little will adversely affect feed intake and animal growth performance. Recommended flow rates are 1,500 ml/min for lactating sows, and 700 ml/min in the grow-finish barn.
Fourth, consider alternatives to nipple drinkers.  Cup or bowl drinkers have been shown to reduce spillage by 10-15%.  Wet/dry feeders in the grow finish phase can reduce water use by 34%, and slurry volume by 20-40%, compared with dry feeders and a bowl. Wet/dry feeders have been shown to increase consumption of mash diets compared to dry feeders and a separate drinker,
resulting in a 5% improvement in average daily gain. Be sure they are properly adjusted.
Finally, assess the diet.  Feeding a diet containing excessive protein or excessive mineral levels results in increased water usage. 
And, of course, remember that temperature impacts water requirements. For example, every 1º above 20ºC results in a sow drinking 0.2L more water each day.
And, since we’re looking forward to summer weather, this is a good time to give ventilation systems a tune-up to make sure they are ready to cope with summertime demands.

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