Pigs, though not as overtly gross as most people seem to think. If you raise your own, you already know that they do some pretty nasty stuff from time to time.
They will indeed wallow in the mud when given a chance on a hot day, and pigs have a reputation for eating just about anything.
Sometimes they will even turn around and drink their own pee or the pee from another pig. It is enough to turn a vulture’s stomach!
Why on earth does a pig drink urine?
Pigs that are desperate for moisture might resort to drinking urine, otherwise a pig will only drink urine if the salt levels in its body are very low.
No matter how and why it happens, seeing a pig drink its own wee is pretty disgusting.
Luckily, it usually only happens for a couple of reasons and both are easy enough to figure out. Keep reading to learn more… if you can stand it!
Why on Earth Would a Pig Drink Urine?
I know it is gross, but there it is: pigs really can, and will, drink their urine from time to time. Or even another pig’s pee! It gives me the shudders. But why do they do it?
The first possibility is that the pig is very thirsty and there is no other water available. If a pig is kept in a pen that is too small, or if the weather has been very dry and there is no mud to wallow in, a pig can become dehydrated.
When this happens, they will drink anything that contains moisture, even if it is their own urine.
Pigs will also drink urine if they are lacking in salt. Pigs need a fair amount of salt in their diet, and, if they do not get enough, they will start to crave it.
This can happen if they are not given enough salty food or supplements, or if they are eating too much food that saps the salt from their body.
We’ll talk more about both of these issues below, along with other rare but still possible causes of this nasty behavior.
A Lack of Fresh Water is Easily Corrected
The single most likely cause of a pig drinking any urine, its own or otherwise, is simply a lack of available fresh water.
It is essential for pigs to have access to clean water at all times, and if they do not they will quickly become dehydrated.
When this happens, they will drink anything that contains moisture in an attempt to rehydrate themselves, even if it is their own urine.
The solution to this problem is as simple as it gets: make sure your pig always has access to plentiful, clean water.
Make your life easier by ensuring your herd has way more water than they need, and also that it is placed in a way it is easy for them to drink from.
It should also be placed in such a way that your pigs cannot knock it over or otherwise make a mess of it.
Lastly, you must change their water regularly so that it does not become stagnant or too dirty.
Sometimes Pigs Might Contaminate Their Water Source with Urine and Keep Drinking It
One unfortunate tendency of pigs’ biology is their readiness to urinate immediately after or even while drinking water.
It is not an uncommon sight on a pig farm to see pigs whizzing away while getting a drink, and though most make an effort to not eliminate where they drink or eat, it rarely fails that one pig or another will relieve him or herself in the water trough.
Naturally, the other pigs will go right on drinking it. Gross!
The solution to this problem is twofold…
First, you must ensure your pigs have enough room to approach, move around and get a drink without having a crowd around the trough in such a way that they are likely to pee in it.
Second, as mentioned you must stay on top of refreshing their water regularly. No ifs, ands, or buts.
A Pig That is Lacking Salt Will Readily Drink Urine to Supplement
The next major reason why pigs take to drinking urine is that it might be the only readily available source of salt for them.
Pigs require a fair amount of salt in their diet and, if they are not getting enough from their food or supplements, they will start to crave it.
Salt is a vital electrolyte for maintaining energy and the correct fluid balance in the cells of the body. A lack of salt can result in some very strange behavior on the pig’s part, including drinking urine.
Boosting a Pig’s Sodium Intake Can Stop Urine Drinking
Happily, this is another issue that is easily solved.
Make sure your pigs always get the right amount of salt in their diet in the form of salty food or supplements. This should be measured based on their stage of life, the purpose of the pig, and more.
You can also provide them with things like mineral blocks or licks in a pinch which is specifically designed to give animals the minerals they need. Pigs might overdo it with these and get too much salt, though.
One easy way to quickly boost a pig’s salt intake is to give them some table scraps that are salty.
As a treat, these won’t disrupt their diet too much and since most of the food that people eat is pretty high in salt already, it will likely be just what they need. Just make sure not to give them too much as it can make them sick.
Certain Diseases and Metabolic Conditions Might See a Pig Drink Urine
If you have followed all of the above advice and your pig is still engaging in drinking urine. The next thing you should do is take them to the vet for a check-up.
While it is not common, there are certain diseases and metabolic conditions that might see a pig to develop a craving for urine.
Disorders of the adrenal glands or kidneys can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the pig’s body and make the pig feel thirsty all the time, even if they are drinking plenty of water. In desperation, they might drink urine to compensate.
In any case, your vet will be able to determine the cause and hopefully prescribe treatment to fix the problem.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.