Drinker to Nursery Pig Ratio: Preference for a Drinker Location within a Pen and its Effects on Aggression

  • Ciara J. Jackson (Iowa State University)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Larry J. Sadler (Iowa State University)
  • Kenneth J. Stalder (Iowa State University)
  • Locke A. Karriker (Iowa State University)
  • Roy E. Edler (Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica)
  • J. Tyler Holck (Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica)
  • Paul R. DuBois (Cargill Pork)


The objectives of this study were to (1) calculate aggressive interactions around the water bowl drinkers and to (2) determine preference for a water bowl location when pigs were offered either one, two or three water bowl drinkers per pen. Information is available on the current drinker to nursery pig’s ratios (drinker: pigs). In the UK producers are recommended 1:15, while in the US it is 1:10 for nursery pigs. A total of 225 crossbred were seven weeks of age. Conventional nursery pens had plastic flooring and all pigs had ad-libitum access to a commercially formulated diet. Water was delivered through a single stainless steel water bowl drinker and was provided ad libitum. All pigs received a natural light cycle from a curtain sided building. Nine pens were used for behavioral measures. Three treatments were compared. Treatment one (TRT 1; n = 3) was defined as one water bowl drinker per pen. Treatment two (TRT 2; n = 3) was defined as two water bowl drinkers per pen. Treatment three (TRT 3; n = 3) was defined as three water bowl drinkers per pen. One day prior to visual recording of drinking behavior, all pigs in a pen were identified with an individual number. One 12 V black and white CCTV camera was positioned over each water bowl drinker and behavior was recorded from 0700 to 1300 h over two consecutive days onto a DVR at 1 frame per second. The acquisition of drinking behavior (defined as the pig having its head in the water bowl drinker for 5 s or longer) was obtained by three experienced observers who viewed the recordings using 24 h mode (5 frame / s) onto the Observer software. Total number of aggressive interactions and length of aggression around the water bowl drinker over the 6 h period was not (P < 0.05) different between the treatments. The total amount of time that nursery pigs spent when offered two (F vs. O) water bowl drinkers in a pen did not (P = 0.47) differ. However, when pigs were offered three (F vs. O vs. A) water bowl drinkers in a pen there was a difference (P < 0.0001) for total amount of time spent at all three locations. In conclusion, pigs displayed a water bowl drinker preference with the alley location being the least favored; however, there were no difference in the number or length of aggressive interactions.

Keywords: ASL R2640

How to Cite:

Jackson, C. J., Johnson, A. K., Sadler, L. J., Stalder, K. J., Karriker, L. A., Edler, R. E., Holck, J. T. & DuBois, P. R., (2011) “Drinker to Nursery Pig Ratio: Preference for a Drinker Location within a Pen and its Effects on Aggression”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 8(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-620

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Published on
01 Jan 2011
Peer Reviewed