Water is essential for the pigs
A finisher consists of 70% water, and water is very important for the animal's metabolism, among other things.
The water content of the pig also serves several other uses:
- Transport and solvent medium for nutrients and waste substances
- Improved digestive system
- Ensuring normal electrolytic balance and bone joint flexibility
- Regulation of body temperature
The water requirement of the pig
Obviously, the water requirement of a weaner differs from that of a nursing sow, just as the following factors play their part:
- Feed formula
- Feed consumption (the greater the feed consumption, the greater the water requirement
- The sow's milk production
- Ambient temperature
- General health condition
The table below indicates the water requirement of the various animal categories:
|Piglets (incl. sow milk)||1-2|
|Growing pigs (15-45 kg)||4-8|
|Finishers (45-100 kg)||6-10|
*Pig Husbandry – a Primer, Jørgen Peder Christiansen, Landbrugs Rådgivningscenter, 2000
Water for pigs should be the same quality as your own drinking water. In other words, you should be able to drink the same water as the animals do. Water quality is measured both at the artesian boring and at the valves, as impurities may accumulate in the pipes. If analyses show contamination of the pipe system, the pipes must be cleaned and disinfected where required. Regular cleaning of the pipe system, in other words, helps to ensure a good water quality.
Symptoms of dehydration
Dehydration comes in two types: acute and chronic dehydration. Acute dehydration will quickly be reflected in the pigs' behaviour, whereas chronic dehydration can be harder to spot.
If the pig does not have access to fresh water, it will soon develop so-called salt poisoning. In fact, a water loss in excess of 15% will in most cases result in the pig dying within 48 hours. Symptoms of dehydration in pigs are as follows:
- Less feed intake
- The pig will not stand up for inspection
- Insecure, wobbly walk
- Abdominal pains
- Dark urine
- Sunken belly and eyes
- Blue discolouration of skin
Chronic dehydration may have many causes, e.g. too low water pressure, defective or too few water valves or contaminated and thus bad tasting water. It is important to clean the pipes and to be attentive to pig behaviour. The symptoms of chronic dehydration are similar to those of acute dehydration, i.e. lethargy and apathy, just as diarrhoea and infection of the urinary tract can be symptoms.
If the worst happens
Dehydrated pigs must never be given unlimited access to water, as this will cause cramping and, in the worst case scenario, death. In consequence, one has to gradually reintroduce the pigs to water with limited rations.