Keep hogs cool and growing in summer heat

As summer temps rise, it is important that farms have followed through on their pre-summer checklists preparing their operations to adequately protect the livestock.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as we manage pigs to keep them cool and growing during challenging periods of heat stress.

1. Ventilation rates increase as pigs get bigger
As temperatures rise we know that ventilation rates need to increase accordingly, but they also need to increase as pigs get bigger. Using the chart below, a 1,000-head barn averaging 100 pounds per pig in August would require 75,000 CFM. Conversely, if that same 1,000-head barn in August housed pigs weighing 250 pounds each, the required CFM would be 120,000.

Moving air helps reduce the temperature pigs feel as shown by the chart to the right. Having additional fans in barns can increase airspeed and pig comfort.

2. Check your generator more frequently
Most farms with automatic generators have them set to run at specific times to make sure they are working. However, during the summer months it’s a good idea to check your generator (automatic or portable) more frequently to make sure it’s working. As temperatures rise, pigs’ ability to lose heat to air decreases. For big pigs, this response time can be less than 30 minutes. For smaller pigs that response time can be an hour. At the same time CO2 levels will begin to increase as ventilation rates diminish and pigs’ access to fresh oxygen is reduced.

3. Nutrient intake does matter
It has been well-documented that heat stress causes a reduction in feed intake. Consequently reduced feed intake results in performance losses such as average daily gain or milk production in sows. Strategies such as providing smaller, more frequent meals or feeding at cooler times of the day can improve feed intake during hot weather. In addition, products like Kick It Up Sow Top Dress provide additional nutrients like protein and yeast products which promote a good gut environment to improve sow intakes which will help increase milk production.

4. Double check water flow rates
Water is the most overlooked but important nutrient. During summer pigs will need more water to help them regulate their body temperature and stay cool. In preparation for increased water consumption check your water lines for adequate pressure, even to the farthest pen in the building. The table below gives guidelines on water consumption and flow rate for various sized pigs.

For more information on summer temperatures and heat stress, visit the Hubbard Feeds website and check out the recently updated Finisher Management Guide which contains helpful information on a number of topics. The Finisher Management Guide is found under the Swine Tips and Tools section of the Hubbard Feeds website, in the Swine Sales and Marketing Pieces section.

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