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Drinking behaviour pigs on liquid feed

Finisher pigs on liquid feeding are not more motivated to drink water from an extra water bowl than those fed on dry feed.

Such are the results of a study by the Dutch Livestock Boards for Livestock, Meat and Eggs (PVE) which are important for future regulation for provision of water in conjunction with liquid feeding.

Finishers that are fed with liquid feed with 25% dry-ingredient content absorb more water than they require physiologically. However, European regulations stipulate that pigs 'must have access to water all the time'. This can lead to higher feed costs.

Motivation of pigs
As a result, the Animal Sciences Group, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, carried out a study on behalf of the PVE in 2006 and 2007 in order to investigate the motivation of finishers to drink more water.

The motivation was measured by providing firstly an extra water bowl in the pen. The speed of flow of the water was changed on a weekly basis between 130, 360, 730 en 1040 ml/min. If the pigs drank more water at a lower flow rate, this was considered a measure of motivation.

Three liquid feeding systems were used: long trough, sensory feeding and variomix. Results were taken from 48 pens with 12 pigs. In total, the pigs fed on liquid feed, used 7.3 litres water per day and the pigs fed on dry feed 4.7 litres, including water from feed.

Consumption from the extra drinking bowl amounted to 0.6 and 3.4 litres per day respectively. At the lowest flow rate, the pigs drank less – around 0.3 to 1.9 litres per day. The speed of water consumption was low and no difference was recorded with liquid feed and dry feed. This indicates that they were motivated for extra water.

Conclusion
The results of the study suggest that pigs fed on liquid feed are not motivated to drink more water than those on dry feed. If an extra drinking bowl for pigs feed on dry feed is not necessary, then such is the case of those fed on liquid feed.

Related websites:
PVE  
Wageningen University  

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