Pigs need water in winter too

As temperatures drop during the winter, managing hydration is still a critical component of daily protocols. Rick Purnell provides a short insight on how to keep your pigs hydrated and productive over the colder months.
calendar icon 8 December 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

Drinking enough water is essential for pigs to maintain proper growth rates. Water is critical to proper cell function, it helps to regulate body temperature, and aids with nutrient transport within the body for efficient growth. Water makes up about 80 percent of the body weight of a newborn pig and about 55 percent of a finishing pig. Pigs can lose practically all of their fat and over half of their muscle protein and still live, while a loss of 10 percent of its water results in death.

To maintain pig health and productivity, it is critical to monitor and enforce proper hydration protocol, according to Dr Darrell Neuberger, technical services veterinarian with Tonisity, Inc.

Studies continue to demonstrate that sound nutrition and wellness early on contribute to a lifetime of good pig health, ensure proper gain and keep herd health costs in line,” Neuberger says. “While important year-round, ensuring that pigs drink is especially important in winter when cooler temperatures may inhibit pigs’ desire to drink.”

Neuberger recommends incorporating Px, an isotonic protein drink for pigs, starting at Day 2 and continuing through Day 8. It has proteins and key amino acids and is specifically formulated to enhance cellular function in the small intestine. Because the drink is isotonic and the small intestine is functioning properly, pigs absorb more nutrients than they would without it.

He adds that incorporating Px at post-weaning helps ensure pigs drink water in that critical 24-hour period after weaning. In addition, feed consumption is correlated directly to water intake. The quicker the weaned pigs eat and drink, the better their performance will be through the finishing stage.

According to North Carolina State University, nursery pigs up to 60lbs need approximately one to seven gallons of water per day, grower pigs weighing 60lbs to 100lbs need two gallons to three gallons daily and finishing pigs need three gallons to five gallons each day. Water consumption can vary from group to group and between individuals because of changes in ambient temperature, diet, how the water is supplied, housing type and stresses such as disease.

Water availability to meet these recommendations must be constant, not sporadic,” Neuberger says. “To keep water available at all times, supplies must be constantly checked and pigs observed for signs of dehydration. They include: thirst; lack of appetite; constipation; nervousness, and lack of muscular control.

It is much easier and less costly to keep pigs healthy and growing when fresh, clean water is abundant and more importantly, consumed,” he adds.

As reported by Rick Purnell, RPR Company.

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