How to Improve Outdoor Huts for Sows and Piglets

UK - In its Annual Technical Report 2008-2009, BPEX includes a short report on work to investigate ways to minimise temperature fluctuations faced by sows and piglets kept outdoors.
calendar icon 3 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Keeping sows cool during warmer months can aid lactation and by keeping internal hut temperatures down sows are encouraged to stay with their litters. Cold temperatures add extra pressure to the starvation hypothermia crushing complex.

In the BPEX trial, 12 huts on an outdoor, free-range unit were fitted with temperature loggers from July to January and temperatures monitored. Huts were either insulated or un-insulated, and left as they were or painted with either white emulsion or greenhouse paint. After each weaning, data from the loggers were downloaded and compared to external temperatures.

In the warm summer months, painting any hut white reduced temperatures inside them by up to 7°C. Emulsion had better results than greenhouse paint, and painting was more effective than insulation in terms of reducing temperatures. The best combination in summer was insulated huts painted with white emulsion, while the worst combination was unpainted un-insulated huts.

In the cooler winter months, huts painted white were 2°C colder than unpainted huts. The best combination was un-painted insulated huts, whilst the worst combination was painted un-insulated huts. The colder it was, the more noticeable the difference. Greenhouse paint reduced the temperature by a further 2°C.

In general hut alterations had a bigger effect on hut temperatures during the hotter months.

The next step, says the BPEX report, will be to investigate detachable white covers. This should allow the benefits of a white surface in the summer and the normal surface in the winter to be seen.

Trial huts
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