Chinese water puzzle

5 July 2017, at 12:00am

Can you work out where is the mid-day point on a graph showing the water consumption of a group of finishers over a 24-hour period?

This question, posed by Hugh Crabtree, caused much interest among 250 Chinese pig farmers attending a conference organised by Yangxiang – a major feed supplier with pigs of their own – for their customers at company headquarters in Guigang in Guangxi Zhuang province.

As usual, most failed to get the answer right. The question formed part of a presentation on environmental control which highlighted the importance of knowing exactly how pigs react to their environment.

The answer is that, in natural light pigs’ eating and drinking increases from dawn, then declines before they go to sleep, as would be expected. The mid-day point on the graph, however, occurs roughly halfway before peak water consumption is recorded.

Hugh Crabtree, managing director of environmental control company Farmex, showed how the monitoring system developed by his company was pinpointing previously unknown facts – such as when, and exactly how much, pigs drink. This information is challenging traditionally held views on a wide range of behavioural and environmental factors.

Hugh Crabtree was among a panel of international experts invited to the event to help progress China’s fast-developing pig industry.