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Now that your Pig is HOME! The Importance of Water

We all know how important water is.  It is the most essential nutrient to any living being.  Without water we would not be able to grow, develop and survive.  Water plays an important role for your pig.  It helps with the digestion and movement of nutrients through the body as well as acts as an agent to help maintain body temperature.  Over 50% of your pig’s weight
is water as well.  That is why sometimes when you take your pigs to weigh in, they weigh less than what they weighed at home.

Fresh Water

Fresh Water

We get several questions throughout of the year where pigs just are not growing like they should and more times than not, not getting enough water turns out to be the culprit.
Most of the time, we do not even realize our pigs are not getting enough water until it is too late.  Today, we are going to talk about helpful tips to make sure that your pigs are getting
all of the water they need.

Your pigs need to have access to a cool, fresh supply of water.  It doesn’t matter if you use nipple waters, bowl waters, trough waters, etc.  As long as the water is fresh and cool and your pig has access to it, you should be good.  If your pig is not getting enough water, they will in return eat less, grow slower, and just not perform as well.  This could mean not making weight and not allowing your pig to reach it’s true potential.

Here are few things we suggest you check on and watch throughout the summer to ensure your pig is getting enough to drink.

Most of us know to check on these:

  1. Is the water warm?  This can be a big problem in the summer.  Do you run your water across your yard to get into the barn/pens?  This is a case in many barns there were converted to house 4-H pigs.  If the hose is setting out in the sun, the water will be warm and your pigs will not drink as much.  We suggest that you cover the hose with
    something or bury it if at all possible.  This can also happen if the hose is ran directly along the roof of your barn against a metal roof.  You can just offset of the water line/hose to help with this problem.
  2. Using bulk water tanks – these are great to use if you do not access or ability to put in permanent waters.  Check and make sure the water does not become stagnate and smelly.  Just like cattle tanks, these can start to grown algae and water become stale.

These are things that can get overlooked

  1. Does your pig know how to drink out of the water?   We have this happen to us sometimes.  We have bowl waters in our nursery and grower.  When we move pigs to our show barn we have a nipple waters.  Every once in a while we will have a pig that will not know how to drink out of the different waters.  With some patience and working with the pig, you can teach your pig.
    1. This is also true for when you go to your county fair.  At most fairs, you have to bucket water your pigs.  There are some pigs that do not know how to do this.  We suggest that a few weeks before the show to start them drinking out of a bucket.  This will make fair week a lot easier.  Also, sometimes the water tastes different to the pig and that could cause them to not drink it.  There are many tricks to help reduce the taste difference.  You can use gatorade, lemonade, or any flavor to mix in the drink to give it a different taste.  Feed companies also sell a variety of additives to add to your water as well.2.
  2. Is the nipple/bowl water plugged?  Sometimes the nipple can become clogged or stops working.  This doesn’t allow for a big enough stream of water to come out.  The pig is rinking, but they are just not drinking enough.  We suggest testing the waters weekly to make sure that everything is in working order.
Checking water pressure on a nipple water

Checking water pressure on a nipple water

The amount of water that is required for each pig changes depending on the environment, age of the pig, their diets, and how much you’re exercising them.  That is why we suggest
to have pigs on full water.  That way the getting what they need.  We do suggest that you use some kind of nipple, bowl, trough, or bulk water.  If at all possible, we suggest that do you do not water out of a pan because pigs tend to flip and play in these a lot, causing your pig to not get enough water.

In conclusion, your pigs need fresh, cool water.  If you wouldn’t drink the water, don’t expect your pigs to!

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  1. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    This is great information would you mind if we posted it on our livestock facebook page giving credit to you guys? We can’t stress enough the importance of water.

    • Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes you may! We are hoping that our blogs are helpful to 4-H and swine members!

  2. Austin Mathews
    Posted February 2, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I really liked this article. Lots of good reminders. Do you have anything that would be helpful for my steer? Thanks!

  3. Chris Jones
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this information, it’s really useful. I am going to get some pigs, but I don’t have access to a water supply. My plan was to use an a 1000 litre IBC tank as a bulk tank. Is this acceptable and if so, could you tell me roughly how long would the water be OK to drink for, if it would cause a problem (being stagnant water- I don’t want the pigs to get ill) and if I would need to add anything to it to stop bacterial build up? If you could help me with this it would be much appreciated.

  4. Onya
    Posted April 22, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    We have 2 4H pigs and we are using a 55gallon water bucket with a pig water nipple. They are not getting the hang of drinking from the nipple and prefer a bucket(which I give them to be sure they have water) at fair they have a water nipple so I’m wondering if there are any tricks anyone has to get them drinking out of the nipple. Last year’s pigs didn’t have any problems

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