Optimal environmental settings cut costs and boost productivity

Farmscape speaks to Dr Brett Ramirez about maintaining critical thermal comfort to maximise productivity
calendar icon 2 October 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

An assistant professor in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering with Iowa State University, says, by maintaining an optimal environment within the barn, pork producers can maximise the productivity of the pig while cutting operating costs

"Why the In-Barn Environment Matters" will be discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2018 November 14 and 15 in Saskatoon.

Dr Brett Ramirez, an assistant professor in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering with Iowa State University, says improving the environment within the barn comes down to the equipment that provides that environment, the control of that equipment and keeping on top of maintenance and settings. He explains:

“From the pig's perspective, temperature, humidity, air speed and the surrounding configurations of the building itself all have an impact on whether that pig feels thermally comfortable in its environment. When a pig is thermally comfortable, it's going to grow and eat at the optimum level and what the producer wants.

“From the feed intake perspective, an environment that is too cold is going to cause the pig to consume more feed but not gain weight as fast versus, in an environment that is too warm, the pig will eat less and, again, not put on weight as fast.

“Being outside of this zone of thermal comfort is going to cause feed intake to change in an undesirable way and, with feed being one of the primary drivers of cost, some serious economic implications there.

“On the equipment side, not having equipment that's properly maintained and functioning or optimised with settings can cause excess of energy usage in terms of propane or electricity and drive costs up.

“So things like keeping shutters clean, checking fan belts, making sure when switching from winter to summertime all the proper steps are done and just general seasonal maintenance is maintained.”

Dr Ramirez says, at the end of the day, monitoring the pig and its comfort is the best tool for determining how well the system is working.

As reported by Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape.Ca

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