80% of the newborn piglet weight, and 53% of the fattened pig weight are water. A few of the water that pigs need is from their feed and metabolism, and most of the water is from drinking. Pigs can survive when they lose almost all fat and more than 50% protein in their bodies, but they are not able to stay alive if they lose 10% water. And pigs lose water through urine, feces, respiration and skin. The balance between water intake and water loss is influenced by many factors, such as pig health status, nutrients absorption rate, and the living condition, etc. In a word, if sufficient water is not available for these functions, the productivity on pig farm will suffer.
—Water is Used for Cleaning Pig Farm
A regular cleaning of pig farm is necessary, including pig houses, pig farming equipment, and other facilities cleaning, to keep a sanitary living condition for pigs, and water is frequently used.
—Water is Used for Thermoregulation of Pig Farms
Cooling has to be done when the ambient temperature are above the optimal temperature for pigs to ensure their good performance, and water is an essential part of many cooling systems, as a means of cooling through evaporation.
1.Evaporative sprinkler system: commonly uses sprinklers, such as drippers, sprinkling nozzles and soakers or sprinkler hoses to spray or drip water on pigs to increase evaporative cooling.
2.Evaporative fogger system: employs low-pressure (less than 50 psi) or high-pressure (up to 200 psi) nozzle to spray water into the air as fine moist of fog to cool the air.
3.Evaporative cooling pads system: has water running down over the pads surface and allow water evaporate form the pad surface to cool the air entering the pig house.
—Water is Used for Pig Drinking as an Important Nutrient
Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins are the commonly-known nutrients that swines need, but water is also an important nutrient required in the greatest quality by pigs. For good growth and production, pigs require access to quality and enough drinking water. Because water helps many chemical reactions that occur in pigs’ bodies.
1.Help the regulation of body temperature
2.Help the transports of nutrients around the body
3.Help removing and filtration of toxins
4.Help lubricating and protecting the body organ
5.As aids in digestion
At the same time, Water is necessary to accommodate excesses of certain nutrients. For example, if pigs are fed protein exceeding the potential requirements of their lean growth, water intake increases dramatically; if there is a high content of salt in the diet, water needs increase, or death may be caused by salt poisoning. And the salt poisoning death frequently happens if water nipples become plugged or animals can not access water because nipples are too high or difficult to get. Animal health may be adversely affected if water supply is limited. The incidence of urinary tract infractions is higher in sows with low water intake.
Pigs Need Right Amount of Water Intake
Pig water intake varies by pig ages, productivity, ambient temperature, water temperature, water supply methods, feed types, feeding methods and pigs activity level.
Water intake of growing pigs doubles as environmental temperature rise from 5℃ to 35℃. Ambient temperature increasing means water intake increasing, especially in sows and finishing pigs. The pig drinking water temperature should be 10℃-15℃, and too-high or too-low water temperature can cause bad digestion.
Feed and water intake are closely related. Suckling pigs will increase water consumption if they are provided creep feed, and conversely, creep feed intake will increase if water is provided. Within the nursery, when feed and water are both readily available, water and feed intake vary proportionally with each other. If water intake is limited, feed intake will decrease. However, if feed intake is limited, water intake may rise as hungry pigs drink if they can not eat.
Moreover, high water flow rate will cause water reduce with no effect on water intake rise; pigs need more water when eating the pellet feed than the powder feed; water demand will rise if there is high content of protein and minerals.
There are Several Kinds of Pig Drinkers
The pig drinker providing water to pigs can be classified into 5 kinds: valve, bowl, trough, straw and feeder.
- Pig valve drinkers require pigs to open the valve and drink directly from the device. Valve drinkers can be further divided into nipple drinkers that need pigs to move the activating nipple to one side to get water flow; bite drinkers that need pigs to bite on the mechanism for water activation; button drinkers that need pigs to push the activator in to open the valve and get water.
- Pig bowl drinkers make it possible for pigs to drink directly from a pool of water. The float valve as well as nipple and button valves can be used to help pigs to fill the water bowl themselves. Bowl drinkers should be hooded to protect pigs when they are drinking. Or prevent them from polluting the water with feces and urine.
- Pig trough drinkers which are commonly used for gestating sows with water adding following each meal, also allow pigs to drink from a pool of water. But they provide sufficient space for several pigs drinking at once. They are usually mounted at floor level and filled manually or by using a float valve. Valve drinkers can be mounted over the trough, so that pigs can choose a drinking way.
- Pig straw drinkers require pigs to suck on a tube to draw water into their mouths from a pool that is covered to prevent pollution. At the first time, pigs may have difficulty learning to drink water from straw, so it is necessary to run water through them until they do so.
- The fifth means for pigs to drink water is via the feeding system, including wet feeding; and dry/wet feeding, in which pigs get feed and water separately.
Good Water Quality is the Basic of Optimal Pig Performance
Pig water intake, feed consumption, health and productivity are directly influenced by pig water quality, and the water source often determines its quality and suitability for pigs. Water supply usually can be accessed by surface water or ground water. And both of these water sources are affected by several elements.
Surface water quality is affected by materials in run-off from rain and in the water table, airborne and soil pollutants, decaying organic matter and the removal of minerals by vegetative growth. Surface water can easily become contaminated with bacteria, minerals, chemicals, heavy metals and algae from various sources.
Ground water is affected by rock, soil type and the type of aquifer supplying the well with water. So water from aquifers in limestone bedrock will likely contain high levels of calcium and magnesium. Bacterial and chemical contaminants are not naturally found in aquifers supplying water to deep wells. Their presence in such wells indicate a pollution problem. Pollution may be caused by cracked or faulty well casings, open well caps, or spills from a neighboring source.
Pig water quality is determined by the physical measures and chemical measures.
The physical measures include color, odor, flavor and clarity. Water for animals should be clean and odorless. If the water appears to be cloudy, frothy, colored, or have an odd smell or taste, a further testing needs to be conducted to avoid potential problems with quality.
The chemical measures include various chemical tests to ensure water quality.
TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) is a measure of the inorganic matters sum dissolved in water, which is safe for pigs with a level of <1000 ppm, but unfit at a level of >7000 ppm, because high-level TDS can impair pig performance. The conductivity (the capacity of water to conduct an electrical current) can be used to test TDS.
pH is the acidity of water and the acceptable animal water pH is 6.5-8.0. It can change frequently for water purifying by using cleaning materials or filtration system. A pH value of less than 6.5 or more than 8.0 can cause corrosion of the water system, which can lead to the water pollution with metals, such as iron, copper, lead and cadmium. Moreover, improper pH can impair water chlorination and certain drugs dissolution.
Nitrates and nitrites
Pigs are relatively tolerant to nitrates and nitrites. High-level nitrates in pig water indicates bacterial contamination; and these nitrates can be converted into toxic nitrites that can bind to hemoglobin in the blood; and impair the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. A level of 300ppm of nitrate may be sufficient to produce enough nitrites to cause toxicity for pigs, and a level of 10 ppm of nitrite is of concern for pigs.
Sulfate forms salts with calcium, sodium and magnesium; and is a kind of laxative agent causing diarrhea with unreasonable amount in water. Especially in young pigs. Pigs’ tolerance of sulfate depends on pig age,other stress presence, and sulfate salt type in water.
Chloride is generally a less common anion in groundwater than sulfate, and a concentration above 250-500 ppm can cause a brackish taste, resulting in low water intake and indicating a water pollution problem.
Iron is not a safety problem itself, but it promotes iron bacteria growth, and water refusal and reduced water intake may occur.
Hardness means the presence of calcium and magnesium, and soft water can cause water pipes blocked; hard water can cause problems due to calcium deposits in water, and certain drugs are inactivated by high calcium, magnesium and iron concentrations. But water hardness is not a problem for pig health and performance.
Water Conversation is Essential for Sustainable Pig Operation
Since water plays such a vital role in pig’s life, the availability of high volume. Good quality water source is the utmost important issue for a swine operation. Water conversation can yield significant cost saving. There should be a whole-farm water system management for water conversation.
—Measure water use
Metering total water use will allow pig farmers to identify their baseline water use, and then project water consumption.
1.Pig drinking water
Pig drinking water accounts for about 80% of total water use in pig raising.
2. Pig house and equipment cleaning
Pig barn and equipment cleaning accounts for up to 10% of total water use. Dry cleaning-up practices of pig manure and pig transport trailers can reduce wash time and water used; intermittent presoak can reduce about half water use for pig barn clean-up.
3. Cooling of pigs
Cooling pigs accounts for up to 12% of total water used. Using cooling systems only when needed and following generally accepted cooling water recommendations are effective ways to save water.
—Check and repair water system leak
Water leak results in not only the water waste, but it also adds the pig production cost. So pig farmers have to check and repair water leaks daily.