Browsing Animal & Grassland Research & Innovation Programme by Funder "Teagasc Internal Funding"
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Effect of different cleaning procedures on water use and bacterial levels in weaner pig pensPork is one of the most globally eaten meats and the pig production chain contributes significantly to the water footprint of livestock production. However, very little knowledge is available about the on-farm factors that influence freshwater use in the pig production chain. An experiment was conducted to quantify the effect of three different washing treatments on freshwater use, bacterial levels [(total bacterial counts; TBC), Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus] and cleaning time in washing of pens for weaning pigs. Three weaner rooms were selected with each room having 10 pens and a capacity to hold up to 14 pigs each. Pigs were weaned and kept in the pens for 7 weeks. Finally, the pens were cleaned before the next batch of pigs moved in. The washing treatments used were power washing and disinfection (WASH); presoaking followed by power washing and disinfection (SOAK), and presoaking followed by detergent, power washing and disinfection (SOAK + DETER). A water meter was used to collect water use data and swab samples were taken to determine the bacterial levels. The results showed that there was no overall effect of washing treatments on water use. However, there was an effect of treatment on the washing time (p<0.01) with SOAK and SOAK+DETER reducing the washing time per pen by 2.3 minutes (14%) and 4.2 minutes (27%) compared to WASH. Nonetheless, there was an effect of sampling time (before or after washing) (p<0.001) on the levels of TBC and Staphylococcus, but no effect was seen on Enterobacteriaceae levels. Thus, the washing treatments used in this study had no effect on the water use of the pork production chain. Although there was no difference in both water use and bacterial load, from a producer perspective, presoaking and detergent use can save time and labour costs, so this would be the preferred option.