Water is essential for swine survival. “It’s also a critical nutrient for growth, pregnancy maintenance and weight gain during lactation,” says Todd See, swine genetics specialist, North CarolinaStateUniversity.

Of course summer isn’t just a hot period for you. Now is an especially critical time for you to address your pigs’ water needs. 

If you provide pigs with enough quality water, performance won’t suffer. But if a pig’s water demand exceeds the supply, it won’t grow into its genetic potential.

Temperature greatly influences a pig’s water needs. When the environmental temperature rises from 59° F to 95° F, a 75-pound-pig’s water needs can increase by 57 percent, for a 250-pound pig it jumps 63 percent.

Check water systems for signs of contamination. For example, total-dissolved solids shouldn’t exceed 6,000 to 7,000 ppm. Also, monitor the water source’s mineral content and microbial safety. In-line filters and traps can help improve water quality on some farms.

See emphasizes regular maintenance to prevent leaks, clean screens and provide adequate flow throughout the building. The recommended flow from a nipple drinker is 750 ml per minute for growing pigs and 1,000 ml per minute for finishing pigs. Check the flow rate by using a measuring container to collect water from drinkers for one minute, then compare it to the recommended rate for the pig group’s age and waterer type.

“Stray voltage on watering devices frequently limits water intake,” says See. Just 0.5 to 1 volt can reduce a pig’s water intake. Check with your electric utility supplier for assistance.

Frequently adjust gate-mounted nipple waterers to just above the pig’s shoulders for easy access, but also to prevent injuries and carcass bruising.

He also recommends replacing old equipment with water-saving drinkers. Standard fixed-nipple waterers tend to cause waste, especially during warm weather. Comparatively, swinging nipple waterers may reduce water use by 10 percent to 25 percent. Some bowl-type nipple drinkers may reduce waste by 20 percent to 35 percent, compared to standard fixed-nipple waterers.