Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Upgrades for the hogs at foothill

The unusually hot weather this week  brought some concern about the hogs growing nicely at foothill. The water system was struggling to keep up with demand. It seemed that he battery was dying every day and leaving the waterer dangerously low. With a steady supply of water, hogs are in danger of suffering deeply in this dry heat.  So, we decided to fix things better.

First, the power system on the water trailer. We had already replaced the small solar panel with a full sized 15 watt panel.  Next we replaced the small 100 watt solar controller with a  300 watt digital one. This gave a reading on the power pull of the motor which was more than expected at 6 to 9 amp! no wonder the original system wasn't keeping up.

I replaced the smaller battery on the water trailer with a true deep cycle with much larger capacity. Then installed a pressure gauge in line with the water line after the pump. Using the readings from the pressure gauge I was able to set the pressure switch properly to turn on at 5psi and off at 15psi reliably.  This gave a reliable power and water source.

Here is the completed new setup
Here is a shot of the pressure gauge installed using a typical Y hose connection and adapter

Top view of the battery, pump, and solar controller

Then I went to work at the other end of the delivery hose.  The hose leads to a 4 way connector which feeds:

  1. Hog Waterer float valve
  2. loose hose with shutoff on end for manual water delivery
  3. empty
  4. Pressure tank
The pressure tank is helpful. It is just a standard 5 gallon pressure tank  for a hot water heater. This is a sealed tank with an air bladder inside.  The air bladder softens pressure changes and stores a small amount of water to reduce pump cycling.

With the new water pressure set to 5-15 psi, I released enough air from the tank to leave it at 10psi. In theory that stores enough water to account for 5psi pressure change. 

The distribution 4 way splitter.  note the small pressure tank in the upper left corner.

The waterer itself. 

Then... the poor hogs were SO hot. Even in the shade they were just laying still in distress trying to breathe. Remember.. pigs dont sweat.  They need external water / mud to keep cool.  So... More water to the rescue!

We purchased another hose, a home water timer, a nozzle, and made a pig shower... a virtual pig water playground! The timer turns on for half an hour every 6 hours during the day, and the nozzle shoots the water far enough into the pen to keep the electric fence safe.  this occasional spraying will provide quick relief as well as a muddy spot where they can dig and lay to cool down. The resulting mud will help to keep them cool.

The timer is strapped to a plastic fence post, which is braced against another plastic fence post with wire ties. Actually makes a sturdy base just high enough
With water running, pretty good distance for a 12v pump! Some of the pigs came running over to investigate the sound of falling rain!

Success! happy pigs playing and lounging in the rain drops

One final thing to do here is to install another solar panel. A single 15 watt panel can charge at about .8 to .9 amps in the bright sun. That gives about 10 amp hours per day of power at best.  But the pump draws 6 to 8 amps..  so for just filling the waterer for drinking it would work fine, but   to run 3 times a day at 30 minutes each for the shower adds   90 minutes run time at an average 7 amps...  thats about 10.5 amp hours per day.. more than one panel can recharge.  Adding one more should make the system balance nicely. 

"Thank you Mr Farmer!"  says the now happy pig

Move aside guys! make room!

AAAHHH, cool rain!

Ever seen a group of happier pigs??

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