Water guidance for pig farmers

This section provides guidance for pig farmers on water system set-up and maintenance, the importance and methods of maintaining water quality and how to avoid waste. It also explores water supply management.

It is a legal requirement that all pigs have ready access to good quality, clean water. Defra’s code of practice for the welfare of pigs states that: 'All pigs over two weeks of age must have continuous access to a sufficient quantity of fresh drinking water.'

  • Water meets the pig’s basic need of freedom from thirst
  • Water is essential for nearly all body functions, including temperature regulation, absorption of nutrients, tissue growth and waste excretion
  • Water directly affects feed intake, so contributes to pig growth and performance
  • Water is used in cleaning and disinfection routines to maintain animal heath

Maintaining water quality and preventing wastage are both important. Water is a precious resource that comes from either surface or underground sources. It may be supplied ready-treated to potable (human drinking) water standards via the mains supply and/or from a farm’s borehole, well or spring.

Water quality and quantity

From checking drinker flow rates to water sampling, our guidance can help you to meet Defra's code of practice and maintain the health of your pigs.

Read more about water quantity and quality

Water usage

Tools are available to help you evaluate how efficiently you are using water on farm, and to highlight ways to save costs and maximise water efficiency. You'll also find information on diet, weather, drinkers and pressure washing.

Find out how to monitor water usage

Waste water and drainage

See an example of a site drainage plan and find out more about rainfall harvesting. Also, use our table to determine the level of contamination so you can manage it effectively.

Waste water and drainage

Water regulations

To meet legislative requirements, you must consider your water use and the prevention of water pollution. From drinking water safeguard zones to water pollution control, our information will help you comply with legislation.

See the water regulations for pig farms

Water supply problems

Having a plan in place if your farm loses access to water is essential. Our guide, put together in partnership with the NFU and Water UK, shares useful advice and explains the support you can expect from your supplier.

Water supply problems – a guide for livestock farmers