The impact of ground water high in sulfates on the growth performance, nutrient utilization, and tissue mineral levels of pigs housed under commercial conditions
John F. Patience, PhD; A. Denise Beaulieu, PhD; Doug A. Gillis
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Objective: To examine the effect of drinking water high in sulfates on the growth performance, nutrient utilization, and tissue mineral levels of newly weaned pigs housed in a commercial operation.
Materials and methods: Performance and nutrient digestibility were determined for pigs consuming either water treated by reverse osmosis (RO; 219 mg total dissolved solutes (TDS) per L, 29 mg sulfates per L) or untreated ground water (3078 mg TDS per L, 1650 mg sulfates per L). In each of two experiments, approximately 240 pigs (20 +/- 3 days of age, 5.9 +/- 1.0 kg) received either RO-treated or untreated water for 35 days. In Experiment One, water was delivered either via nipple drinkers or dish-type drinkers. In Experiment Two, diets either contained supplemental zinc oxide (3000 mg zinc per kg) or no supplemental zinc.
Results: Average daily gain, average daily feed intake, gain-to-feed ratio, water disappearance, and nutrient digestibility were similar regardless of water source (P > .05). Water disappearance was lower (P < .01) and feed efficiency tended to be higher (P < .10) when pigs used dish-type drinkers. Average daily gain and feed intake were lowest when pigs consumed a diet with added zinc (P < .05) and, for the first 3 weeks after weaning, when they also received untreated water (diet-by-water interaction; P < .05).
Implications: Weanling pigs can tolerate drinking water containing high concentrations of sulfates. Poor performance or diarrhea in nursery pigs should not be attributed to water quality until other possible contributing factors are investigated.
Keywords: water quality, sulfates, reverse osmosis, tissue minerals
Cite as: Patience JF, Beaulieu AD, Gillis DA. The impact of ground water high in sulfates on the growth performance, nutrient utilization, and tissue mineral levels of pigs housed under commercial conditions. J Swine Health Prod 2004;12(5):228-236.
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