Water is the nutrient that is required in the largest quantity by pigs and is the most essential nutrient for life, says Thomas Guthrie with Michigan State University Extension. Pigs must consume enough water to balance the amount of water lost.
Water fulfills many physiological functions, ranging from giving form to the body, playing a crucial role in temperature regulation, movement of nutrients to cells of body tissues and lubrication of the joints. It may very well be the most frequently misunderstood and mismanaged nutrient when compared to other nutrients supplied by feed. When making decisions involving swine production facilities, consider factors such as sources of water, estimated water requirements, flow rate recommendations, drinking spaces, number of drinkers, water supply and water quality.
Pigs obtain water to meet physiological needs such as growth, reproduction and lactation from three main sources. These sources include water from feedstuffs, water from metabolic processes and drinking water. Feed ingredients that are most commonly used in swine diets typically contain 10% to 12% water (NRC 1998). Metabolic water originates from the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat and protein. However, drinking water is by far the most important source of water for swine.
Pigs lose water through four routes: kidneys (urination), intestines (defecation), lungs (respiration) and some through evaporation (skin, though sweat glands are largely dormant). Therefore, pigs must consume enough water to balance the amount of water lost. Care must be taken when determining water requirements for pigs, because true water usage is generally overestimated. Wastage is generally not taken into account, therefore realize there is a difference between water consumption and water disappearance (animal intake and waste).
Current research information provides only estimated water requirements because many factors can influence the amount of water required by pigs on a daily basis. To read more and to see recommended water requirements, click here.
This article was originally posted on May 12, 2011 by Tom Guthrie with Michigan State University Extension. Read the full article here.
(Photo courtesy of National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff. Des Moines, IA USA)