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Author(s): Shaw, Marnie I., M.Sc. and John F. Patience, Ph.D.
Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Reference: Manitoba Pork Council Research News, Prairie Swine Centre
Country: Canada

Summary:

Concerns relating to the use of water resources by the livestock industry, combined with the rising cost of storing, hauling and spreading manure have resulted in greater interest in more precisely defining the drinking water consumption of pigs. In particular, little information is available on the impact of diet composition on voluntary water intake in swine. In addition, diets are currently not formulated with considerations involving their impact on water usage in pigs. Some researchers studying the effect of diet on water consumption patterns of growing pigs have observed altered water intake patterns in response to changes in dietary crude protein or mineral levels, while similar studies have not produced conclusive results. Two experiments were conducted at PSCI’s Floral research facility to examine a nutritional approach to reducing the demand for water by pork production units while maintaining pig performance and well-being. Varying levels of dietary minerals and crude protein level as well as the protein source were used to examine the use of diet manipulation to alter pig water intake. The first experiment involved a total of 54 barrows averaging 72 days of age with an average body weight of 36.0 kg. Pigs were limit-fed diets of varying crude protein levels (14.5,18.5 and 22.5 % CP), an animal protein diet using meat and bone meal, a vegetable protein diet with mineral levels similar to that of the animal protein diet or a high mineral diet. A second experiment involved 48 barrows given free access to diets of increasing CP (16.9, 20.9 and 25.7 %) or a high mineral diet (20.6% CP). Drinking water intake was unaffected by the level or source of dietary protein or the mineral levels when pigs were limit-fed. Similarly, urine output was not different in response to dietary treatment. The high water:feed ratios and individual variability in water intake observed in the first experiment were suggestive of polydipsia, a behaviour that has been related to hunger in limit-fed pigs. To minimize the effect of over-drinking due to hunger, pigs were allowed free access to feed in the second experiment. There were no significant treatment effects on overall water balance; however there was a tendency toward increased drinking water intake and urine output in pigs receiving the highest protein diet. Further analysis indicated that dietary nitrogen and feed intake had a strong influence on the pig’s daily water consumption.

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