Water is one of the most critical parameters for healthy pig production.

Ensure that the piglets have access to clean water of good quality.

Clean water is characterized by a low content of harmful bacteria, yeast, and mould. At the same time, the water should be soft.

In this post, you can read about what you need to pay particular attention to when it comes to water quality in the weaner section.

If you want more practical advice for zinc-free weaning, you can download your guide for free here.


Make sure that all piglets have easy access to water after weaning. Lack of water increases the risk of disease and lowers feed intake.

It can be advantageous to have extra water troughs in the weaner section in the first five days after weaning.

Troughs with bigger water surfaces help to increase water uptake. Some piglets are late learners when it comes to drinking nipples, and supplementing the water supply with a trough helps ensure water access.

Alternatively, or as a supplement, you can pour water onto the feeding plate. When the piglets drink the water, they will typically activate the automatic feeding system and get feed and water simultaneously.

Some piglet producers have good experiences with electrolyte water for the first five days after weaning. It tastes great and increases the piglets’ water uptake. Electrolyte water helps to stabilize the fluid and electrolyte balance in the piglets.

Remember that drinking nipples must be installed at a suitable height. If they sit too high, the pig cannot reach it – if they sit too low, the piglets typically drink with the side of their mouth, and consequently, a lot of water runs out on the other side of the mouth and ends up on the floor.

Check that enough water is coming out of the valves.

Regardless of the type of valves, it should supply 0.5-0.8 litres of water per minute. Place a bucket under the water valve and let the water run for 15 seconds. Then turn it off, and multiply the amount of water in your bucket by 4. Then you have the result for litres of water per minute per valve.


The hardness of water is an expression of the concentration of magnesium and calcium ions in the water.

The concentration is measured in milliequivalents per litre (MEq/litre). The degree of hardness is expressed in German hardness degrees as ºdH.

You can find out the hardness of your water by contacting the local water utility. Get at water analysis, If you have your own borehole, and don’t know the hardness level.

We recommend that hardness should not exceed 8. If it is well above, you should consider setting up a softener.

Limestone (calcium) settles and clogs your pipes. Another major disadvantage of calcium is that it protects the biofilm in your tubes from disinfectants. This means that you cannot clean the pipes for microorganisms – even when using harsh disinfectants. Therefore, cleansing only works for a short time, and unwanted microorganisms return.

A high calcium level can also contribute to poor production results because calcium binds phosphorus in the feed. Phosphorous is needed to ensure proper growth.

Don't forget to check the water in the weaner section - table of water hardness


In the weaner section, you must pay special attention to drinking water quality.

The water in the weaner section is exposed because the temperature in the section is high, and the drinking nipples are infected when the piglets drink from them.

Live microorganisms such as yeast, fungus, mould, and bacteria can be detected via an ATP measurement.

The measurement cannot reveal which microorganisms are present but only tell if the level is too high. The sample must be taken 1) where the water is connected to the system, and 2) where the pigs drink. Some take the samples outside the pens at the end of the water supply in each section.

Typically, we see a lower ATP level where the pipes are connected to the utility pipes and a significantly higher level at the drinking nipples. So, it tells us that pollution happens along the way – most frequently in the pens.

Some advisors and veterinarians have an ATP-device, to measure the leve of microorganisms. Consult them, if you want to check your water.

If you suspect poor water quality, adding acid to the water might be a good idea. Acid makes the water unfavourable to live in for microorganisms.

Different acids serve different purposes in the feed or water. Below is an overview of the properties of the most common acids.

Don't forget to check the water in the weaner section - table of acids


You can download the guide below if you want to know more about healthy sows and pigs.

get-ready-for-zincfree-weaning download


Training the piglets for feed
EP200 - compare your price for soy protein in the weaner feed_thumbnail INT.
How to plan the daily routine in the sections
Start by the sow and get healthier weaners
Dont forget to check the water in the weaner section
Losing time and money on hard water for the pigs?
How to feed the pigs after weaning
Get the right amount of protien in the weaning feed
Hvordan tarmsundhed bidrager til mere mælk hos soen
More vital and uniform piglets


European Protein is a Danish family-owned protein producer. We work to promote health and productivity for animals through functional and sustainable plant proteins. The company was founded in 2011 and has protein factories in Denmark, Ukraine and the US.

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