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The effect of varying duration of water restriction on drinking behaviour, welfare and production of lactating sows

  • M. B. Jensen (a1), S.-L. A. Schild (a1), P. K. Theil (a1), H. M.-L. Andersen (a1) and L. J. Pedersen (a1)...


Access to drinking water is essential for animal welfare, but it is unclear if temporary water restriction during the night represents a welfare problem. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of various durations of nightly restriction of water on thirst in loose housed lactating sows from day 10 to 28 of lactation. A total of 48 sows were deprived of water for either 0 h (n=12; control), 3 h (n=12; 0500 to 0800 h), 6 h (n=12; 0200 to 0800 h) or 12 h (n=12; 2000 to 0800 h). Control sows consumed 22% of their water intake during the night (2000 to 0800 h), whereas water consumption during this time was reduced to 13%, 7% and 0% in sows restricted for 3, 6 and 12 h. With increased duration of nightly water restriction a reduced latency to drink (26.8, 18.0, 5.3 and 6.7 min for 0, 3, 6 and 12 h sows; P<0.001) and an increased water intake during the 1st hour after water became accessible (2.1, 3.4, 4.7 and 5.6 l for 0, 3, 6 and 12 h sows; P<0.001) was seen. During the last 30 min before water became accessible more sows deprived of water investigated (0%, 50%, 75%,and 50% of 0, 3, 6 and 12 h sows; P<0.01) or forcefully manipulated (0%, 17%, 50% and 33% of 0, 3, 6 and 12 h sows; P<0.05) the water trough, suggesting frustration and a negative experience of thirst. When all signs of imminent water access were provided, but access was delayed by 25 min, a tendency for more of the sows deprived of water for 6 and 12 h to interact forcefully with the water trough was seen (22%, 18%, 42% and 67% of 0, 3, 6 and 12 h sows; P=0.09). Duration of water restriction did not affect water consumption on a 24-h basis, nursing behaviour or performance. In conclusion, behavioural indicators of thirst increased with increasing duration of nightly water restriction in lactating sows.


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