Lowering pig nursery temperatures offsets rising input costs

US - Hog producers hit with a double whammy of rising feed prices and high energy costs can save at least some production costs by turning down the thermostat at night in their nurseries, say University of Missouri (MU) researchers.
calendar icon 27 February 2007
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According to an MU release, in a recent study, two groups of 120 early-weaned pigs 18 days old were tested for four weeks. In one group, temperatures were kept in normal ranges between 88 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit around the clock. In the other group, nocturnal temperatures were dropped 10 degrees after the first week post-weaning.

Lowering nocturnal nursery temperatures 10 degrees in one group from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am saved about 25% in energy costs (electricity and propane) while resulting in an unexpected bonus of a five-percent increase in daily weight gain during the four-week period, says Marcia Shannon, MU Extension associate professor of animal science. The increase in weight gain was due to increased feed intake rather than feed efficiency, she said.

Nursery heating costs are particularly high. Producers also could use lower nocturnal nursery temperatures to reduce propane or electricity costs. This change would offset the sharp increase in corn prices due to demands for ethanol production, Shannon said.

"This research is designed to determine the overall effect of reduced nocturnal temperatures on pig performance and energy utilization," she says. "The goal is to establish a basis to determine the optimum daytime and nocturnal ambient temperature settings for pigs in conventional nurseries."

Source: Agriculture Online

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