Newborn pigs are about 90 percent water. As they grow older, about 70 percent of their body is water. Water is contained in the body cells, the lymph system, joint fluid, blood, and other body fluids. Every day, the pig loses water through its urine, feces, respiration, evaporation from the skin, and sweating.

Water is necessary to dissolve nutrients so that they can be absorbed by the body. Water-soluble wastes are eliminated from the body as urine and sweat. Solid wastes are softened by water in the digestive tract before they are eliminated. All of the pig’s body fluids, such as blood, gastric juices, and lymph, joint and peritoneal fluids, are dependent on a proper water balance.

Water is also needed to maintain proper body temperature. Because it is a good con­ductor for heat, it can transfer heat from the internal body to the skin surface, which per­mits heat loss.

If the pig is left for even a short time without the proper water balance in hot temperatures, dehydration, resulting in stress and even death, may occur.

Most of the water that is lost by the body must be replenished, or the pig will become dehydrated. This water is replaced mainly by drinking. Water is also found in all foodstuffs, even grains and pellets that look dry. A pig will drink between 7 and 20 percent of its body weight in water each day. The amount of water needed is determined by several factors:

  • Amount of water loss in the pig during a given period
  • Temperature and humidity
  • Age of the pig
  • Health of the pig
  • Activity level of the pig
  • Moisture content of any food consumed
  • Protection from sun and wind

Provide your pig with fresh, clean water at all times. It is better to use small containers that the pig cannot climb into. Clean water containers daily. Keep outside water con­tainers out of direct sunlight if possible, so they will not be contaminated with blue-green algae.

This microscopic plant can become vis­ible in your pig’s water within 24 hours if the temperature and sunlight are favorable. It does not grow as rapidly in partial sunlight or shade. Be sure the water cannot become contaminated with feces or urine from the pig or other animals. If you ever need to increase the water consumption of your pig, offer it at a warm temperature. Pigs prefer tepid water to cold water even in very warm weather.