Feed and water

Feed quality


Fusarium toxins in the feed can cause reduced growth and appetite among the pigs plus lead to more returns to oestrus and a low farrowing rate. It is therefore good to take precautions both during harvest, storage and feeding.


New harvest

Large amounts of rain during flowering and delayed harvest due to frequent rainfall often cause an increased fusarium attack in grain and thereby an increased content of fusarium toxins such as DON and Zearalenone.

A higher water content during storage also requires a lot from drying to avoid storage damage with formation of Ochratoxin.


Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential for the pigs as they cannot produce it themselves. Among other things, the vitamin creates better immunity and reproduction. The grain uses the naturally occurring vitamin E in the grain as an antioxidant in the last part of the maturing phase during storage, so it is necessary to add extra to avoid vitamin E deficiency. Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency are, among other things, acute deaths where necropsy shows signs of Mulberry Heart (enlarged heart with pinpoint bleedings and increased amount of fluid around the heart) and the musculature is often weak.


Analysis of protein and phosphor

We always recommend analysing the new grain for both protein and phosphor as it may cause disease and/or reduced productivity directly or indirectly if this is not under control.

Risk factors

  • Large amounts of rain during flowering
  • Delayed harvest due to frequent rainfall
  • High water percentage at storage
  • Vitamin E deficiency



  • Submit grain samples for toxin analysis
  • Add vitamin E the first 6 weeks to avoid fresh grain poisoning – we recommend 200 mg per FU for breeding animals and 150 mg per FU for weaners and finisher pigs.

Temperature variations result in bad feed

Big temperature variations day/night increase the risk of condensation on the inside of the silos. The moisture attracts dust and dirt and over a short period moulds form. At some point, the mould lumps fall off and are fed with the feed. The symptoms may vary, but rectal prolapses and sudden deaths due to haemorrhagic bowel syndrome are frequently seen.

The same is the case with feed boxes. During washing, the humidity increases and unless feed boxes are completely disassembled in connection with washing, lumps can also form here which may cause issues.

Risk factors

  • Condensation on the inside of the silos
  • The same risk is present during washing of feed boxes


  • Remember the feed hygiene all the way from silo to trough
  • Disassemble the feed boxes in connection with washing so that they dry completely

Late in the year when the silos are almost empty

At the end of the grain year when you are close to reaching the bottom of the silo, there is a bigger risk of poor grain quality in the grain used. This is especially a problem in silos with stirrers as the dirt collects at the bottom.

The solution could be to throw out the grain, mix with new grain of a good quality or to add toxin binder when using the grain. It is important to use the new types of toxin binder even though they may be more expensive than the old ones as they bind the toxins to a higher degree than the old ones.

If you do not already have a grain cleaner connected to your mill, you should investigate the possibilities of installing one. When the silos are emptied, it is important that they are inspected, cleaned and made ready so that you can face the next season with a clear conscience.

Risk factors

  • Poor grain quality in last grain especially in silos with stirrers.


  • Add toxin binder during the period where the grain is used.
  • Connect a grain cleaner to the mill if you do not have one in the system
  • Clean the silo thoroughly and make it ready for the next season when it has been emptied.


The straw intake per animal is usually limited, but in case of high toxin levels the straw could also pose a risk. In special productions with a large straw consumption, the risk factor is correspondingly bigger.

Risk factors

  • High toxin levels despite limited intake


  • Submit a straw sample for testing in case of suspicion

Remember to use an alternative source for enrichment material if you choose not to use the straw due to toxins.



Well-being and good results require plenty of water of a good quality. The pigs’ need for water depends, among other things, on feed intake, feed composition, the surrounding temperature and the pig’s overall health condition. A rule of thumb says that pigs have a daily need for water corresponding to around 10% of their body weight. A lactating sow has a bigger need of up to 50 L/day for optimal health and performance.


Water deprivation causes salt poisoning

Farm personnel or craftsmen regularly forget to open the water after repairs on water pipes etc.

After a water stoppage, the pigs risk getting symptoms of salt poisoning and dying if they get water ad libitum right away. The water supply after a water stoppage should therefore be given restrictively and using long troughs is best. The recommendations for water supply vary depending on how long the pigs have been without water, but as a general rule you should give the pigs 50 ml/kg at 1-2-hour intervals for up to 1-3 days (all pigs must come forward and drink). In severe cases, injecting all pigs with adrenocortical hormones helps. This requires a veterinary visit.


Chronic water deprivation harms production

Chronic water deprivation can create big challenges in the herd and occurs when the water pressure is too low, there are too few valves or the water is e.g. contaminated or tastes bad. Chronic water deprivation is more difficult to discover as the symptoms are nonspecific, among other things reduced feed intake, unthriftiness, diarrhoea, flank lesions and tail bites. Among sows, urinary tract infections, dark urine and decreasing milk production are often seen.


To avoid problems with water deprivation, you should secure water valve performance. The pigs drink most at feeding so you should check in connection with eating time when there is maximum load

  • Valve performance for weaners: 2 L/minute
  • Valve performance for finisher pigs:4 L/minute
  • Valve performance for gestating sows: 6 L/minute
  • Valve performance for lactating sows: 8 L/minute

The recommended number of pigs per valve depends on whether it is liquid or dry feed plus if there is a drinking bowl. If you are in doubt whether the water supply on your farm is sufficient, then ask your veterinarian to check it at the next visit.


Are your floors also cleaner than your drinking bowls?

An experiment by Ø-Vet has shown that drinking bowls, troughs and long troughs contain significantly more bacteria than the concrete floor or the slats.

Many people put a lot of effort into washing the pen but less of an effort on cleaning the drinking bowls, troughs and long troughs. In samples taken, we have found coli bacteria on the animals’ feed and drinking troughs even though they looked clean.

Pay extra attention to washing and disinfecting the troughs, then you will reduce the risk of infections and spreading of infection.