Adding organic acids to the drinking water supplied to young pigs is a good way of improving their performance as well as guarding against any digestive disorders that could result in health problems. The two main targets for supplying these acids in the water are to prevent pathogenic bacteria from entering the gut and to increase nutrient digestion. They will lower the pH in the stomach and this has enzymatic benefits. It stimulates the protein hydrolysing enzyme to perform at maximum speed. Also, a more acidic environment in the stomach increases retention time while additional pancreatic juices are excreted — and that means more digestive enzymes available for the digestion of nutrients in the small intestine.
In theory, including acidifier additives in the pigs' feed should support their digestive system. But in practice the animals that need help tend to be the ones who are eating less than normal. Fortunately, they usually keep drinking even when they have lost their appetite.
Nothing will be gained from the water treatment, however, unless the right acidifying products are used with an appropriate protocol. Applying single organic acids in the water line can actually create problems. For example, formic acid and acetic acid may lead to blocked nipples and filters by forming an organic deposit. Moreover, the single acids will not be buffered. Buffering means they are present chemically as salts that do not corrode pipes or drinkers and offer more activity per litre of drinking water without the palatability suffering. Especially propionic and formic acid are highly corrosive. They decrease pH quickly and, if the dosage is too high, can have a negative impact on the water/feed intake ratio.
Combining important organic acids creates a synergy that is a greater obstacle for microbes to overcome than one single acid. They must be organic: inorganic acids do not have the ability shown by types such as lactic, formic and propionic acid to penetrate into a bacterial cell and kill the bacteria from the inside. Supplied at the proper combination in the right buffer system, they offer a good way to build up a healthy defence system within young animals. Clean drinking water in a water line without biofilm is the best carrier. PIGI