Tips to Tap This Valuable Resource

CANADA - Water is an essential nutrient in pork production. Research reveals how we can manage this resource for best results and minimal cost. Here the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskathchewan, offers some tips on how to manage and make the most of this valuable resource.
calendar icon 7 January 2008
clock icon 4 minute read
Attention to detail when it comes to water use, supply and consumption can pay dividends


  1. Do a water audit. Wasted water costs money to pump and to dispose of in slurry. The average usage is 78L per sow (farrow to finish farm), however actual usage has been reported as low as 65L/sow and as high as 120L/sow, a variation of as much as 50 per cent from the mean!.

  2. Water requirements have been found to be 2.3L for every kilogram of feed consumed (grower and finisher pigs).

  3. Mounting water nipples correctly reduces wasted water. For nipples pointed straight out pigs should drink from shoulder height. For nipples mounted downward at 45 degrees the nipple should be 5cm (2 inches) above the back of the pig. Mounting lower will increase water wastage. Nipples should be set for the height of the smallest pig in the pen.

  4. Check flow rates .Flow rates determine time spent at the nipple, water intake and water wastage. Too little is just as costly as too much when it comes to flow rates. Flow rates of 1,500 ml for lactating sows, 700 ml in grow-finish are recommended. Research on wastage found 23 per cent at 2080ml/min versus 8.6 per cent at 650 ml/min.

  5. Adjust nipple height. Improved water nipple design by providing a step for smaller pigs resulted in a reduction of water waste of 13 per cent, and reduced manure volume of 10 per cent compared to conventional nipple drinkers. Well-managed nipple drinkers (including nipple height changed every two weeks and flow rate) gave similar results to the improved nipple designs.

  6. Cup or bowl drinkers waste less water, reducing spillage by 10-15 per cent.

  7. Water wastage has been measured at 25 per cent of total water disappearance in grower-finisher pigs at Prairie Swine Centre, this is lower than the 40-60 per cent estimated on commercial farms. Proper flow rates and nipple height could contribute to reduced losses.

  8. Use wet/dry feeders in grow-finish. Wet/dry feeders reduce water used by 34 per cent, and slurry volume by 20-40 per cent compared with dry feeders and a bowl. Wet/dry feeders also increase consumption of mash diets compared to dry feeders and a separate water nipple, resulting in a 5 per cent improvement in average daily gain.

  9. Avoid high mineral water sources. High levels of sulphate in water results in an osmotic diarrhea but has no effect on animal performance.

  10. Feeding a diet containing excessive protein and/or excessive mineral levels results in increased water usage.

  11. Temperature impacts water requirements. For every 1 degree C above 20 degree C results in a sow drinking 0.2L more water each day.

  12. Wasted water results in increased slurry application costs. Assuming grow-finish pigs waste 40 per cent of water delivered to the nipple, 396L will be wasted per market hog. This will result in increased manure slurry produced and cost an additional $0.60 per pig in manure application costs.

Further Reading

0 0 0 0 0 0 - To read our article on water monitoring: 'Think About Drink...' click here.
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