Piggy Paradise: Summer Survival Guide for Sows

Dr. Terence Z Sibanda and Doug Pearson

Rising temperatures induce heat stress, which in pigs translates to reduced food consumption, increased water use, limited activity, higher mortality rates, and more medication reliance. Many Australian pig farms, particularly in sub-tropical regions, experience vast seasonal temperature shifts. In intensive pig farming areas like QLD, temperatures frequently surpass the comfort zone for pigs from November to February, often causing performance dips. Data highlights that in summer, finishing pigs’ food intake and growth rates decline by 8% relative to cooler periods (Lewis and Bunter, 2011). Studies, including one by Huynh et al. (2005), have shown that with every degree increase above 23°C, feed consumption in grower pigs drops depending on humidity. Addressing these challenges requires creating a suitable in-shelter environment for pigs. This article will outline strategies to maintain optimal living conditions for pigs and introduce the innovative realm of environmental control technology as a potent tool to shield against intense heat, all while delving into the complexities of pig thermoregulation.

It’s imperative for optimal health and productivity to comprehend the comfort parameters for pigs during the sweltering summer months. Research from Wageningen University has revealed that pigs have specific temperature and humidity prerequisites to ensure their comfort and well-being.

Feedworks has recently partnered with Stienen/Microfan to offer their range of ventilation products in Australia. Steinen/Microfan epitomizes the fusion of innovation and precision in optimizing the pig house environment. Utilizing cutting-edge -fans and vents, the systems deliver a gentle breeze, replicating the effects of natural wind, to maintain ideal pig pen temperatures. These fans, meticulously designed, are complemented by the integration of single- and double-walled ventilation chimneys, ensuring a precise air regulation process. Compatibility with AQC measuring/control units and SGS fans reinforces the system’s robustness and ease of assembly. Safety is paramount, with provisions in place to ensure wind speeds adhere to safe thresholds, mitigating risks of excessive air currents.

Further enhancing the system’s capability is the integration of the KL-6400 Climate and Management Computer. This advanced unit provides a comprehensive graphic display, showcasing vital parameters such as temperature, water, feed, weight, relative humidity (RH), carbon dioxide (CO2), and ammonia (NH3). Such granularity affords users a lucid overview, enabling seamless monitoring, control, and adjustment of crucial pig house processes.

Creating an optimal climate for pigs, especially during the warmer months, requires a multifaceted approach:

Wind Speed Control: Empirical studies affirm that wind speeds up to 2 meters per second are non-detrimental to livestock. This finding paves the way for the seamless integration of natural ventilation

techniques. The confluence of optimal air volume, speed, and placement is imperative for a comfortable environment. The management computers inherently feature controls to regulate temperature disparities. In conjunction with the AeroWing inlet valves and the reliable EGM winch motors, the system guarantees impeccable ventilation.

Water Cooling: Understanding the intricate relationship between temperature and humidity, as depicted by the Temperature-Humidity Index (THI), is pivotal. Each livestock category has a unique THI threshold. Strategic water application significantly mitigates the THI, enhancing animal comfort. The AeroX air-to-water heat exchangers stand out in this regard, proficiently preconditioning air. In regions with suitable soil structures, leveraging subterranean heat storage becomes viable. These exchangers, optimally positioned near the livestock, utilize water circulating in plastic conduits, which during winters is warmer than the incoming air, facilitating air heating. The mechanism is reversed during summers. Such innovations ensure pigs consistently experience utmost comfort, which invariably boosts their food intake, hydration levels, and overall activity.

Infrastructure Considerations: Achieving the quintessential summer habitat for pigs’ mandates considerations extending beyond mere equipment. The size and geographical orientation of the pig housing play instrumental roles. Ensuring air inlets are judiciously positioned is vital for uniform air distribution. Anomalies in inlet placement can culminate in inconsistent cooling, compromising animal comfort. Systems like traditional pad cooling and advanced misting mechanisms, which emphasize humidity control and water conservation, can be integrated seamlessly. Exhaust mechanisms in pig houses can be bifurcated as direct or central. While the former involves individual room-based exhaust chimneys, the latter amalgamates air from all sections into a centralized conduit before expulsion. Stienen BE offers ingeniously designed compact ventilation chimneys for both intake and exhaust, seamlessly integrating with AQC units and SGS fans. Their assembly is streamlined, courtesy of the intuitive click system.

To the pig farming community, addressing heat stress proactively with housing automation system is not merely a luxury; it’s a strategic imperative. This transcends mere animal comfort. It’s a call to elevate operational efficiency, maximizing output and profitability. With a comprehensive understanding of pig thermoregulation and this avant-garde solution, you’re strategically positioned to foster healthier pigs, enhancing your bottom line.

For a deeper exploration and consultation, please reach out to Doug at [email protected].

References

Huynh TT, Aarnink AJ, Verstegen MW, Gerrits WJ, Heetkamp MJ, Kemp B, Canh TT. Effects of increasing temperatures on physiological changes in pigs at different relative humidities. J Anim Sci. 2005 Jun;83(6):1385-96. doi: 10.2527/2005.8361385x. PMID: 15890816.

Lewis CR, Bunter KL. Effects of seasonality and ambient temperature on genetic parameters for production and reproductive traits in pigs. Animal Production Science. 2011 Jun 27;51(7):615-26.