Keeping pigs cool
Pigs get hot and they aren't able to sweat. Keep an eye on your pigs for signs of heat stress, and keep them cool with shade, fans, and water.
Radio interview source: Dale Ricker, Extension Swine Specialist, Ohio State University
Pigs don't have sweat glands, so it's up to you to keep them cool.
Dale Ricker is an extension swine specialist at Ohio State University. He says pigs are most uncomfortable when high heat is combined with high humidity. They'll show signs of heat stress with a high respiratory rate and panting. However there are several things you can do to make them comfortable.
"If the pigs have access to a breeze outside, a 4-or-5-mph breeze, that is basically in effect going to take the place of a fan," he says. "If we're in a building and not having access to that breeze, a fan will do that job as well, to a certain point. And then we may need to look at some type of evaporative cooling where we can wet the pig, and the pig then is cooled as the water evaporates."
When pigs are under stress from the heat, there's a reduction in their average daily gain. Their feed intake could drop by as much as 30-percent. Reproduction and growth can also be compromised.
To avoid any more stress, Ricker says it's important that producers not work their pigs during the heat of the day.
"If we're going to handle the pigs, for example if we're going to exercise them, we're going to do it earlier in the morning, later in the evening, when we have cooler temperatures," says Ricker. "You always need to observe the pigs, how are they handling the temperature and the humidity in terms of their respiration rate to be aware of when we do need to implement a cooling effect on the pigs.
Always be sure to have adequate amounts of cool drinking water so the animals don't become dehydrated. Pigs kept outdoors should also have access to shade whether from trees or structures to go into for relief.
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