Insulation and Inlets: Priorities for coming winter months

US - The mild fall temperatures experieinced in many mid west states means many producers haven't yet thought about the cold days of January. Producers are being urged to ready their premises for the code climate which is just around the corner. It was the main subject of a recent Porkcast Online Seminar hosted by University of Minnesota-Extension and Minnesota Pork Board.
calendar icon 19 November 2007
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To evaluate and 'winterise' pig facilities, producers should break down the hog's environment.

Dr. Joseph Zulovich, University of Missouri Extension agriculture engineer, uses eight components when describing a hog's environment:

  • Air temperature humidity level
  • Air velocity
  • Air movement
  • Indoor air quality
  • Space
  • Manure removal
  • Feed and water access
  • Type of building construction
Of those eight, Zulovich said that five are directly related to ventilation.

"If we get the ventilation right, you've gone a long way to providing a facility that can provide good pig performance," he said.

The effective environment temperature - an adjustment of the actual air temperature adjusted for drafts, building insulation level and floor type - is important to consider when cold weather sets in.

Controlling the items that affect the effective environment temperature will aid in swine performance and energy efficiency.

"If you can't control these things you end up running the building a little warmer from a temperature standpoint," he added.

The building itself is the key component, and rodent control is a big issue.

"It is a maintenance issue that works with the longevity of the structure," he said, adding that rodents can create inadequate insulation.

With inadequate insulation it's harder to maintain temperature control. Condensation or frost formation can occur including wet areas. Moisture build up can harm the building structure over time.

"Sometimes that can reduce building life - catching moisture into the inner structure," he said.

Heating costs will increase and with heating prices on the rise adequate insulation will help keep costs down.

When evaluating the insulation, Zulovich advised to inspect the walls on a cold, brisk morning.

"Look to see if there are any spots of frost or moisture on the inside surface of the walls," he said. "If you've got any insulation voids or spaces where rodents have rooted out the insulation you will have an uneven condensation pattern on your wall and if it's cold enough it may leave a frost pattern."

The patterns of condensation or frost on the wall are a tell-tale sign of insulation integrity.

If the condensation or frost pattern is uniform on the wall surface then the problem is a ventilation issue related to humidity control and not directly related to insulation unless there is no insulation in the walls.
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