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'The water is better now'


"Good drinking water is just as important as good food. But water is always there and that is why we are more inclined to pay less attention to it", says Wilco Harmsen. He has an organic pig breeding farm with 320 sows. He supplies his piglets to five organic fattening pig farmers.

Last year Wilco Harmsen started focusing more on improving drinking water quality. "There was nothing wrong with it. Periodic surveys of the water never showed disturbing numbers. All indicators were within the bandwidth", says the pig farmer. "Still, not everything went the way I would like it to be. We have water meters for gestating sows and they have shown an average water intake of 8-9 litres per sow per day in recent years. That's on the tight side", he explains.

"We have tried to improve water uptake by installing extra drinking troughs and installing a circulating pump system. However, the sows stopped drinking. "Over the years, Harmsen occasionally used products to clean the water supply system on his farm. Because of the costs and disappointing effect, he stopped doing so. In recent years, he did add acid to the weaned piglets' drinking water to suppress diarrhoea problems.

Too good to be true

Last year, at Nieuwe Oogst, Harmsen read about the Watter System, an installation that continuously adds a disinfectant to the water. "It seemed almost too good to be true. I asked the supplier for names of farmers who work with it and called four: two pig farmers, a dairy farmer and a poultry farmer. They all told enthusiastic stories, so we decided to test it ourselves."

Half a year on a trial

Harmsen took advantage of the opportunity to rent a Watter installation for six months at a discount from LTO Ledenvoordeel. After installation, Watter's men regularly examined water samples. And to Harmsen's surprise, within six weeks he got to see very different quality results than he was used to. "All parameters, such as the colony count, dropped to minimum levels. And I saw the drinking water intake in the gestating sows increase to 12-13 litres per sow per day. The weaned piglets suddenly did fine without any acid addition. Because I could hardly believe it, we even sent a water sample to the Animal Health Service outside of Watter. However, this yielded the same favourable result. "Harmsen was convinced and bought the Watter System. "Here, too, a € 1,000 discount via LTO Ledenvoordeel was an extra incentive."

The entrepreneur expects to earn back the investment within a few years. "It cannot be calculated exactly. We see advantages such as fewer returners, better and more colostrum and fewer problems in the weaning shed. But to what extent can this be attributed to the drinking water? A good thing is that the system falls under the Vamil scheme, which saves me tax. "Harmsen advises colleagues who are doubting about investing in better water to rent a Watter System for a trial period. "Then you find out what it can mean for your company. My personal experience: water is simply better. I also like to drink it myself. "

Source: LTO Ledenvoordeel (2020)

Organic pig farmer Wilco Harmsen from Hengelo

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