– With the return of warm weather, proper temperature control and ventilation are essential in swine barns to help protect animals from heat stress that can compromise their health and performance.
Heat stress directly impacts pigs’ daily weight gain, feed conversion efficiency, and can lead to poor growth rates, reduced milk production and impaired fertility. It can also weaken hogs’ immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases. Signs of heat stress include panting, reduced feed intake and increased water consumption.
Mark Oberreuter, senior technician and ventilation expert for AP, AGCO’s swine production equipment brand, recommends these steps to help provide an optimal hog environment during hot weather.
- Make sure tunnel fans turn on during hot temperatures. Check before warm weather arrives if your barn controller offers test mode.
- Clean tunnel fan shutters and inspect the fan housing and cone. Dirty shutters, cracks and defects in the fan housing and cone can negatively impact the ability of the fans to move high volumes of air.
- Check for loose or worn fan belts and replace if necessary.
- Ensure your tunnel curtains open properly.
- Clean and inspect your cooling system to make sure it is functioning properly.
Oberreuter adds that technology – such as controllers – help to create and maintain the ideal hog environment. With the right technology, producers can conveniently monitor multiple barns as well as notice changes in the barn environment, increased water consumption and a decrease in feed intake. “Technology doesn’t replace the need to walk your barns and see how your pigs are doing, but it can help supplement visual inspection,” he says.
Finally, he notes, producers should be aware of the weather forecast and plan ahead with a strategy to protect their pigs from high temperatures. “Have your fans, shutters and other cooling system components ready, so that if hot weather is expected, your pigs can stay cool and at their highest levels of productivity.”
For additional information, hog producers can contact their dealers or visit AutomatedProduction.com.