Coping with Cold

UK - Tips on helping pigs cope with the current spell of very cold weather from BPEX.
calendar icon 11 January 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

You and your pigs will have noticed that it is unusually cold outside. But whereas you can put on an extra jumper, have a hot mug of coffee or turn the heater up, your pigs have limited mechanisms for keeping warm. Pigs exposed to cold stress will have a higher metabolic rate resulting in increased feed intake, reduced feed efficiency and growth and increased fatness.

Indoor pigs

Under-ventilating pig buildings during cold weather is the most common cause of poor air quality in them. Even when external air temperatures are very low, pigs still need good quality air to breathe and to reduce the risk of increased respiratory disease. When the room temperature drops below the minimum set temperature, the fans may automatically switch off, not re-starting until the pigs have warmed the room up again. This can create a problem as fans should not be allowed to remain off for longer than three minutes or odours build up and humidity levels can increase.

To reduce the likelihood of pigs becoming cold-stressed, ensure rooms are equipped with an appropriately sized heater, and importantly, that it is operated with the ventilation system controller to minimise conflict between the systems.

Outdoor pigs

It is important that sufficient amounts of bedding are available to outdoor dry sows to allow them to regulate their thermal environment. However be careful not to put too much into farrowing sows as excessive straw can be problematic for new born piglets – dry bedding is more important, so it is 'little and often' for this section of the unit. The requirement for little and often will become imperative when the temperature lifts and the snow thaws.

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