Tips for Pork Producers to Beat Summer Heat

by 5m Editor
1 July 2011, at 12:00am

The University of Minnesota's Mark Whitney provides tips on how to beat heat stress in pigs during the summer months.

The summer months can bring about heat stress in livestock. Pigs are especially challenged because they do not have functional sweat glands to assist them in efficiently reducing body heat.

Although most pigs today are raised in modern facilities that provide some climate control, we are still limited in most facilities with our ability to cool pigs during extreme heat.

Pigs naturally remove body heat during periods of heat stress through a combination of:

  • Accelerated respiration
  • Decreased feed intake
  • Increased water consumption
  • Adjustments in physical activity and movement

According to University of Minnesota Extension, here's how pork producers can minimise heat stress for their pigs:

Prepare and Maintain Cooling Systems

Check cooling systems to ensure proper function. Ensure thermostats, fans, air inlets, drip coolers, sprinklers, cooling cells and any other related equipment are set for summer usage. Use of sprinklers along with fans can reduce the temperature in barns as long as the sprinklers are set correctly. Avoid sprinklers that produce a very fine mist because they will increase humidity levels in the barn. Similarly, cooling cells will be much more effective at lower humidity levels. Adjust ventilation systems to remove excess moisture from buildings.

Adjust the Feeding Programme

Since pigs will reduce their feed intake during periods of high temperatures, increase the nutritional density of the diet for growing pigs and lactating sows. You may increase the caloric density by including increased fat levels in the diet; however, if other nutrient levels are not also increased accordingly, animal performance will still suffer.

Modify Procedures during Load-Out and Transportation

Perhaps the most stressful time for pigs in periods of heat is during transportation. Remove feed from pigs for 12 to 18 hours prior to moving them for market (remove feed, but not water). Load fewer pigs in order to allow maximum air movement. Keep vehicles in constant motion and open all vents and slats. Try to avoid moving pigs during the heat of the day, and allow more time for loading of pigs. Pigs are more apt to become fatigued during hot weather. Additional time and patience is required to load pigs effectively while minimising stress on the pig as well as on the handler.

Pork producers can find more educational information by clicking here.

July 2011
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