German farmer got € 10,000 for inventing a shower for pigs
Jens Hertling talks about the invention in more detail in his article on the Lebensmittel Praxis portal.
“Christoph Becker, 36, inherited a pig farm located in Soltau-Fallingbostel in Lower Saxony from his father in 2010. In addition to a pigsty with 1,000 places, he owns 120 hectares of fields in the Lüneburg Heath, 100 hectares of forest and a biogas plant.
All pigs on the farm (about a thousand heads) have a place of 1.5 square meters and access to a shower room. Becker rebuilt an ordinary stall for a shower and invented a "buzzer for pigs" so that the animals themselves could choose the time to wash. For this he was awarded an innovative prize of ten thousand euros from the animal protection organization Tierwohl Initiative (ITW).
“Pigs are the smartest farm animals we have, and they themselves know what to do. To design a device that the pigs can turn on themselves, I simply copied the natural basic movements of the pigs. When they turn on the buzzer, they simulate a natural digging motion,” says Becker.
The buzzer itself hangs upside down out of the reach of animals. To control it, animals must click on a pole in the pipe. As soon as he presses the buzzer dome, an electrical signal activates the water flow. Curious animals quickly learned from each other to turn on the water and take refreshing procedures, which is important on hot days.
The farmer calculated that the animals showered 80,000 times in 18 months, according to the meter's records. It turns out about six times per animal.
Pigs often use a shower on summer days, and in the heat, they are in no hurry to leave – having poured a puddle on the floor, they bliss in it. Noticing this behavior, the farmer decided to improve the drinking water supply also on demand. He is currently working on a buzzer-powered automatic feed feeder and is collaborating with a pigsty freshener startup.
Becker believes that traditional pig production must change and become open to new ideas and initiatives. He intends to commercialize his "pig-shower" soon.