A Tale of Two Pig Waterers: Cups vs Nipples

As with all livestock, pigs need a fresh supply of water to remain happy and healthy. Water is often overlooked, but is the most important nutrient! When comparing automatic waterer types for horses and cattle, the options can be staggering. This is not the case with pig and hog waterers. Generally speaking you can break all the waterer types down into 2 main categories: Cups and Nipples. Let’s weigh the pros and cons!

nipple pig automatic waterer
Nipple style automatic waterer

 

Nipples:

We’ve all seen this set up, a simple stainless steel tube with an open end to mimic the nipple the pigs are accustomed to using as they wean. These single serve, low flow options are used commonly. While coming in many different varieties such as bite nipples, wet feeding nipples and spray nipples; there is surely a set up for every different need and lifecycle stage.

 

Nipple drinkers will be mounted at a height to match optimal drinking positions based on the size of the pig, a general rule of thumb is to mount about 2 inches above shoulder height. You’ll also need to find the right angle to encourage drinking, typically between 15-45 degrees. Because this setup is a single serve drinker, you’ll need to be conscious of the amount of nipples set up based on your animal count. Too little can cause over crowding or even water guarding. Spread them out too far and some nipples may be left unused and can become unsanitary or even clogged. On the other side, you don’t want to set up more than necessary, unless you are anticipating growing your count.

Automatic Pig Waterer
Close nipple spacing

 

The water source leading to the nipples will also need to be considered. Do you have enough pressure to adequately deliver enough water at each nipple? Often the first on the line will have a higher flow rate than the last, especially if being used simultaneously. This is more important to consider if you are using a gravity flow setup to deliver water. The water quality can also determine the effectiveness of the waterer. Hard water can lead to buildup and eventual clogging to be cleaned.

 

 

Cups:

Just like the nipple drinkers, there are also a wide variety of cup drinkers. This category contains waterers that use a cup or a bowl to hold water, temporarily or stagnant water. However this type of watering setup typically has a more one size fits most approach (wean to finish).

Automatic pig waterer
Cup style automatic waterer

The common denominator here is a bowl or cup to hold water for the pig to freely drink. The differences that you will find are the size/shape of the cup, material and the actuator. Sizing can vary from single use to double side to trough like features. Shape will vary from boxy to rounded features to utilitarian welded stainless steel. You’ll also see variation on the placement, from ground level to wall/panel mounted options.

How the water is delivered can also vary with the actuator type. This can range from floats to paddles and trigger valves. All of these options will allow your pigs to activate and fill the bowl on their own. One key difference you will see here is what happens with the remaining water after the pigs drink. Most cups/bowls will allow the water to remain in the bowl. This can lead to dirty, stagnant water. An option for a waterer that drains with each use is the Drinking Post Automatic Pig Waterer. This set up is a bowl with a paddle activator, but the key difference is that all the water remaining in the bowl will drain after every use. The Drinking Post utilizes a stop and waste valve buried below the frostline, so any remaining will drain to leave an empty and cleaner bowl. Also because it fills and drains with each use, the waterer and water delivered will stay much cleaner than waterers with stagnant water. Ultimately this means more water intake and better animal health.

For more information on Drinking Post Automatic Pig Waterers, please visit this link:

 

Pig/Hog Waterer

And for a deeper dive into Automatic Waterers for all animals, please check out our Auto Waterer Guide:

 

The Ultimate Guide to Automatic Waterers

 

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