BPEX blog

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The importance of water

Water quality and availability are key to pig performance but are often overlooked. Pig producers should ensure they look at water supply, as well as analysing feed, when investigating any performance problems.

To ensure sufficient access to watering points, it is advisable to have more than one drinker per pen, to act as a backup if a drinker becomes blocked or broken. Producers should aim to check all drinkers are clean and working on a daily basis and check flow rates of every nipple and bite drinker regularly.

This is a simple task requiring a large measuring jug, a watch and less than a minute of time. Producers should operate the drinker for 30 seconds and note the volume of water collected in the jug. This is then doubled to give the flow rate in litres/minute; there is a table of minimum flow rates for different weights of pig on the BPEX factsheet, Action for Productivity 16: Water supply.

It’s good practice to check flow rate in the end pen when the building is full of pigs, to see how the water system can cope when most of the drinkers are being used. Flow rate can be adjusted if needed and producers should seek advice if they’re not sure how to. 


Water hygiene is a critical factor for pigs so bowl drinkers and troughs should be checked on a daily basis and cleaned as necessary. The complete water line, including drinkers, pipe work and header tanks should also be regularly cleaned and flushed through, ie between batches.

Microbiological, physical and chemical factors can all affect water quality and, if there is any doubt concerning quality, samples should be sent for analysis. 

For more information, download the factsheet Action for Productivity 16: Water supply here and view short video clips from the BPEX Practical Pig App here

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