How to Narrow The Field

These days the market is flush with medicator/injectors designed to handle a variety of jobs. Also known as “proportioners”, medicator/injectors are used in livestock production facilities, in greenhouses, and even in car washes. If you are in the market for a replacement unit, or you are buying your first unit, how do you narrow the field? By asking (and answering) a few simple questions before contacting your sales representative, you can begin to narrow the options, and help make sure your representative places the right medicator/injector in your hands.

What Is A Medicator/Injector?

medicator/injector is a mechanism for introducing a drug or other substance into a liquid supply line in controlled amounts. These devices withdraw a set amount of solution—whether that’s electrolytes, vitamins, antibiotics, or nutritional supplements, etc.—and inject it into the water lines in your facility. This allows your target livestock or crops the ability to consume the solution over time.

Ideally, your proportioner should last a long time without losing proportioning accuracy. However, in reality all injectors need some easy maintenance of the “wear parts” to ensure your accuracy stays high. Many pumps include a chemical bypass to reduce or minimize pump wear and tear; and most are portable—you can move them from pen to pen and plug them into the existing water line using quick-release fittings to medicate your animals as needed.

In applications other than livestock maintenance, medicator/injectors work much the same way. In greenhouses they proportion specific amounts of fertilizer and chemicals to crops. In the car-wash industry, they’re used to proportion set amounts of detergent.

In What Market or Industry Will It Be Used?

In your effort to purchase the exact medicator to suit your need, start with the biggest questions and gradually narrow your focus. The more information you can provide your representative, the better their chances of getting you the unit you need.

What Purpose Will the Medicator/Injector Serve?

This question goes hand-in-hand with the industry. Will you be using it to provide medication to livestock? Will you be chlorinating water lines to clean built-up biofilm?

In the livestock industry, water medication has a number of benefits compared with other administration methods like traditional injections and in-feed medicating. First off, medicated water is easy to administer. Once your unit is installed, you will have the ability to medicate a very large number of animals without the hassle of chasing down individuals for shots. You also needn’t worry that your sick pig, which may be less inclined to eat, is getting the right amount of medication. Once the system is installed, you’ll have a fairly low maintenance cost, which is a nice added benefit.

What Is Your Water Quality

Knowing your water quality will be an important factor for determining the right proportioner for your needs. Some basic questions to have answers to before contacting your representative are:

  • Are you on the city/town/rural water system, or do you have a well?
  • If you have a well, what’s your water quality?
  • Is it hard water?
  • Does it have silica sand, rust, magnesium, etc.?

Knowing these water-source characteristics will provide your sales representative the information needed to narrow down their injector selections. That way they can get you the unit that will provide you with the best performance with for your water quality.

Once you get your medicator, it will be a smart idea to pre-filter the water. In many cases, you can void your warranty if this step isn't taken. Install a filter in the water line so the water is adequately filtered before reaching the proportioner.

Similarly, all proportioner units should be flushed with clean water after each use to remove any particles or deposits that might have accumulated.

What Is Your Peak Water Consumption?

It will also be important to have an accurate understanding of your peak water usage. Determining your gallon flow per minute can be a tricky thing. It’s a little more complicated than dividing your total daily usage by 24 hours. To properly determine your peak water flow, you should measure it at the peak of the day’s usage.

Most animals aren’t drinking a lot of water when the lights go out. Be sure to measure the flow at feeding times or during the highest peak of activity. This is extremely important so your representative does not give you an injector that is undersized which could lead to unit-failure due to overuse.

Using a pulse water meter, or a mechanical water meter with available pulse output, can simplify this process and will help provide you with an accurate water-use reading for peak consumption hours.

What Is The Ratio Needed to Deliver Your Solution?

Most proportioners have ratio adjustments. This is handy because not all medications are delivered at the same solution to water ratio. For most animal medications, the ratio is typically 1:128—or 1 oz. of mixed solution to 128 oz. (1 gal.) of water. On the other hand, the ratio for fertilizer application is typically 1:100. Water treatments have a variety of solution to water ratios.

It is extremely important to read your label and consult with your field professional if you do not know the injecting ratio.

Once you are supplied with the right medicator, it is important to note that many solutions are hard to dissolve, particularly in cold, hard water. When mixing your medication solution, fully dissolve all of the medication prior to injecting it in the water lines. Warm, purified, or distilled water will help your medication dissolve more quickly and thoroughly. Also, avoid mixing medications unless it’s done under the supervision of a veterinarian. Many combinations are incompatible and the effectiveness of some medications may be reduced.

While selecting the right medicator/injector may seem like a daunting task due to the many models on the market today, your representative should be able to provide you with the best unit for your application if you do your homework first. Understanding your water quality, usage rates, and unit purpose will help narrow the field.

How did you end up with the right medicator? Or the wrong one? Tell us your experience in the comments section!