Daily water intake was monitored for 40 sows during 5 days before and 14 days after farrowing. Intake averaged 9-12 l day‒1 before farrowing, dropped to a mean of 6 l on the day of farrowing and increased gradually over 4 days to a plateau of ~14 l day‒1. Sows varied greatly in the degree of reduction in intake during the day of farrowing and the first 3 days of lactation, and those sows with low water intake on these days had low average weight gains by the piglets in the same period. Most of the piglet deaths in the study (14 of 19) occurred in the 10 litters whose dam consumed ≤ 6 l day‒1 of water from Day 0 to 3 of lactation. Monitoring of 14 sows by time-lapse video recording showed that gross physical activity (percentage of time standing and sitting) varied greatly among sows during the first 3 days after farrowing, with the less active sows having significantly lower water intake. We suggest that some sows are excessively lethargic in the first days after farrowing and fail to consume adequate water, and that this could contribute to low milk production in early lactation.
Fraser, D., & Phillips, P. A. (1989). Lethargy and low water intake by sows during early lactation: A cause of low piglet weight gains and survival?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 24(1), 13-22.