The first 36 hours after pigs are placed in a nursery are critical, says Bob Goodband, Kansas State University swine nutritionist. Those pigs need to find water and feed as soon as possible and be encouraged to return to those sources.


Water height adjustment, nipple type and allowing water to drip are critical to getting the piglets’ attention and teaching them to drink. Use a nipple or shallow-cup waterer.

If you use a nipple waterer, it should be designed for young pigs. The water pressure should be less than 20 psi, says Goodband.


The pigs need easy access to water during the first few days, so you let the waterer drip.

Always having feed in the feeder and feed on the mats (if necessary) is equally important. You also need to make the pigs comfortable by controlling the environmental temperature.

After the first 36 hours, identify the “starve-out” pigs and help them find feed by hand feeding them a few pellets. Another option is to make a feed gruel and then use a syringe to dose the pigs. This should be done between 36 and 72 hours after the pigs are placed in the nursery, and may need to be done up to three times. Timing and implementation of this procedure is critical for success in early weaned pigs. If in doubt about establishing a process, discuss it with your veterinarian or a swine nutritionist.


Goodband also recommends that you adjust the feeders frequently while the piglets are in the nursery.