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Improve Ventilation to Benefit Pig Production

19 June 2014

British Pig Executive

UK - A new report from the Pig Health Improvement Project (PHIP) Ventilation Project, funded by Defra, gives some practical examples of how improving ventilation systems can benefit production.

This project has implemented a unique combination of knowledge generation and business support, which has led to increased interest in ventilation from producers, veterinary surgeons and allied industries, with corresponding impacts for individual producers.

The BPEX Pig Health Improvement project (PHIP) aims to support all English pig producers to improve the health of the national pig herd by increasing knowledge and communication of relevant issues, according to the Executive Summary of the BPEX PHIP Ventilation Project Report.

Facilitating improved ventilation is of major benefit to the efficiency and productivity of the industry.

Farms participating in the PHIP project were offered the opportunity to access a free on-farm ventilation assessment delivered by a specialist contractor. The technical advice was shared with the farm veterinary surgeon and the farmer and presented at their local action-focused discussion group (cluster).

The visits highlighted issues such as:

  • incorrectly sized and positioned fans and air inlets
  • draughts
  • poor and damaged insulation
  • impact of adjacent buildings and internal fixtures and fittings on airflow
  • incorrect settings of controllers and 
  • poor maintenance and operator practice.

To determine how effective the individual ventilation visits and corresponding cluster meetings had been, BPEX conducted a questionnaire to gauge farmers’ opinions on what they had learned.

The following points were noted:

  • All farmers surveyed found the meetings very beneficial, as they felt that they had initially received very little information on how their ventilation system actually worked
  • As a direct result of attending one meeting, three farmers made changes based on the suggestions made. In addition, a number of farmers said that they might consider implementing some of the changes if they had the financial capacity to do so
  • One farmer who altered the pigs’ lying area and speed of air movement reported that the pigs were lying more comfortably in the pen as a result
  • Another farmer moved the panels laid out to form a lying area from the centre of the pen, where the cold air was dropping and stressing the pigs, to the outer walls
  • A third farmer altered the ventilation in his weaner building. Originally, both front and back flaps opened at the same time. The ventilation was improved by shutting the back flaps so air could only enter through the front flap, similar to a monopitch house. The canopies at the back of the building were extended to run across the back and down one of the side walls so that the pigs had sufficient lying area protected from falling cold air. Water drinkers were repositioned from the back of the pen to the front where the cold air drops, better suiting natural pig behaviour. While it is only early stages, the farmer has seen no difference in growth performance but has seen a reduction in mortality.

This project has implemented a unique combination of knowledge generation and business support, which has led to increased interest in ventilation from producers, veterinary surgeons and allied industries, with corresponding positive impacts for individual producers.

ThePigSite News Desk Read more BPEX News here


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