Producers must provide up to six hours to ensure that all nursery pigs receive ample time to visit a drinker when orally vaccinating for ileitis.

Studies at Iowa State University (ISU) showed that within six hours, 100% of 7-week-old nursery pigs had visited a bowl drinker at least once for a five-second bout.

In the study, 7-week-old PIC pigs weighing 24 lb. were assigned, by sex, to one of eight conventional nursery pens. Each pen of pigs was fed a balanced corn-soy ration and provided one metal nipple-cup bowl drinker.

Plywood sheets were used as dividers to prevent social interruptions between pigs in adjoining pens. Lights were turned off at 4 p.m. and turned on at 7 a.m.

One day prior to visually recording pig activities, all pigs were identified with an individual number placed between their shoulder blades.

Cameras were positioned over each drinker and drinking behaviors were recorded on two consecutive days in late March 2006. High and low temperatures and relative humidity were kept at 84.4° and 75.2° F and 66.6% and 31.9% humidity, respectively. A pig was considered to be drinking when its head was above the drinker for five seconds or longer.

Recordings showed from 79% to 100% of the pigs had visited the drinker within a two-hour window over two days. Within a four-hour window, the range was 96% to 100%.

However, 100% of the pigs visited the drinker at least once within six hours. Only one pen had 100% of the pigs visit the drinker within the first hour.

It's estimated that the loss of production from ileitis could be $98 million or more annually.

Providing adequate time for pigs to visit the drinker ensures they will receive oral vaccination (Enterisol Ileitis from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.) to protect them against ileitis through grow-finish production.

Researchers: Roy Edler, Tyler Holck and Brad Lawrence, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.; Robert Baker and Anna Johnson, Iowa State University. Contact Johnson by phone (515) 294-2098, fax (515) 294-4471 or e-mail

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