Pigs mostly get water from drinking water (77-80%); the rest is metabolic water (16-19%) and humidity from feed (4%):
Obtaining water for three categories of pigs (liters / day)
|Pig, growth phase||Gestating sow||Lactating sow|
|Water from feed||0,31||0,24||0,84|
|Total water consumed||7,88||12,56||21,23|
“Swine nutrition”. Lewis and Southern (2001)
Water needs have never been very well defined since there are many variable, individual factors that are hard to determine.
Water consumption estimates in different pig categories (l/day)
|Authors||Type of pig or productive stage|
|Lactating piglets||Weaned piglets||Growth pigs||Finishing pigs||Gestating sows||Lactating sows||Boars|
|Taylor DJ (1995)||0,3-0,5||1,5-2,0||-||6-12||10-20||25-40||-|
Compilation of several authors
Under conditions of thermoneutrality, drinking water needs are about 10% of live weight. However, consumption is typically oversized by the waste of water due to environmental factors (temperature and % RH). With the rise of temperature, consumption increases, and it decreases with the rise of RH %. When temperature is very high, needs can increase by up to 15-75% and 3 or 4 times the water waste.
Finishing phase facilities (950 pigs in a 21 day period):
Relationship between high temperatures and water consumption.
Increase of 1,45% for each ºC over 21 ºC:
Bird N. 2001 dicamUSA-Building Management Services, Fremont (NE).
When we reference water from feed consumed we are talking about a dilution rate, this increases linearly with the temperature (RH between 65-70%):
Influence of room temperature on daily water consumption in the fattening phase
|Dilution rate (liters of water:kg of feed)||Room temperature (ºC)|
|Test 1||Castrated males||3,75||3,26||2,89||2,64|
|Test 2||Castrated males||3,97||3,22||2,95||2,57|
Massabie, Granier and Le Dividich (1996) Journées Rech. Porcine en France, 28,189-194
In this study, water consumption and the dilution rate increased 0,1/ºC) when the temperature increased from 17ºC to 28ºC. Upon decreasing the temperature from 28 ºC to 17ºC the ADG increased by 16% with an rise in consumption of 44 g/day/ºC and an growth rate decrease of (0,02/ºC).
A change in room temperature from 12-15 ºC to 30-35 ºC produces a >50% increment, but we must keep in mind that the increase in water consumption also depends on its temperature. At high room temperatures consumption will double if the water is chilled (10 ºC) as opposed to if it is hot (27 ºC). Regarding this, Roseworthy Pig Research Unit (Australia) found that an increase of water temperature (17.80 °C to 28.35 °C) reduced growth (378 g/d to 327 g/d).
Among other factors that can influence consumption is flow. With pigs exposed to chilled temperatures, a heavy flow was detrimental while when exposed to higher temperatures, a light flow was detrimental:
Influence of the water flow and room temperature on the performance of pigs at 10-14 weeks old
|Water flow (ml/min)||100||1100||100||1100|
|Water consumption (L/day)||3,26||4,62||3,13||10,83|
|Feed consumption (Kg/day)||2,24||2,18||0,74||1,09|
|Average Daily Gain (g)||855||730||278||466|
|Time dedicated to drinking (min./day)||32,6||4,2||31,3||9,9|
Nienaber and Hahn,1984
If we contemplate applying medications using drinking water as a vehicle we should be familiar with the environmental conditions in order to correctly estimate consumptions and keep in mind that temperatures also affect pigs behavior in relation to their daily pattern of water consumption. There are 2 consumption patterns based on room temperature:
- Thermoneutrality (temperatures <27 ºC): Drinking begins (5-6 am), peaks at mid-day and in the afternoon consumption reduces until nightfall.
- Heat (temperatures >27 ºC): 2 consumption peaks appear, between 8-9 am and 5-8 pm. Consumption drops at mid-day and at night.
Weaning – finishing facility (600 pigs between 88-95 kg)
Brumm M. (2006). University of Nebraska, Nebraska Swine Report 2006 pg 10-13