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Water consumption influences sow's milk production

A Professor with Iowa State University says the water intake of the lactating sow will be proportional to the speed at which her piglets grow.

5 March 2019, at 10:33am

The availability and quality of water is one of the main factors that will impact the health and productivity of pigs.

In an interview with Farmscape.Ca, Dr John Patience, a professor with Iowa State University, says the amount of water consumed by the lactating sow will affect the amount of milk she produces.

Dr Patience explains:

"One of the beliefs that we have is that when we're providing water to the sow, as long as we have a good dish drinker or nipple drinker or wet dry feeder that's functioning properly, then the sow will drink as much water as she needs. Here that does not appear to be the case.

"Some sows drink less water than others and with those sows that drink less water, their piglets are growing slower. Now the problem is we don't know what's cause and what's effect.

"It might be that the sows are drinking less water because the pigs are growing slower and therefore drinking less milk and therefore if she's not producing as much milk because the piglets aren't eating then she's going to drink less water.

"We're concerned that it's more complicated than that and that there's something driving that sow to not drink as much water as she should and therefore she's producing less milk and therefore the pigs lets are growing slower."

Dr Patience says the more active the sow is the more water she will drink. He acknowledges that we don't want to the sow to be too active right at farrowing because she could kill her piglets but, for those managing farrowing, after the first two or three days and once those piglets are a little more mobile, they'll want to make sure the sow is getting up which will encourage more water consumption and better milk production.