CANADA - Research conducted by the Prairie Swine Centre shows, given the choice, group housed sows will tend to select lower temperatures, writes Bruce Cochrane.
In recognition of the move to group sow housing scientists with Prairie Swine Centre are exploring the value of technology that allows the sows to regulate the temperature of their environment.
The technology is designed to take advantage of the ability of group housed sows to move around and to tolerate lower temperatures.
Dr Bernardo Predicala, a Research Scientist Engineering with the Prairie Swine Centre, explains scientists developed a supplemental heating system that allows the sows to use a switch to increase the temperature of the room.
Dr Bernardo Predicala-Prairie Swine Centre:
We tried this in rooms with about 40 sows in each room.
One room is controlled like a typical gestation room with a preset temperature of about 16.5 degrees while, in the other room, we installed this operant mechanism so the sows actually control the operation of the heaters there.
What ever the resulting temperature that is maintained there is what we see as preferred by the sows.
Overall the sow controlled room, the temperature is about 5 degrees lower compared to the other room with a preset temperature and that translates into about 7 to 8 percent reduction in energy used in that room.
78 percent reduction can be significant.
Depending on the size of the unit, then it could be a big contribution to the overall utility cost for the total operation so a big reduction.
7 to 8 percent could be a big saving in terms of the financial situation for the operation.
Dr Predicala says trials have completed over 2 winters and 1 more trial is planned this coming winter.
He says scientists are also planning to apply the same method to allow the sows to operate heat mitigation mechanisms during the summer.
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