Temperature control: The key to pig project stability

By: Ryan Sites

June 2022

Temperature control and air flow are essential elements in the success of your pig project. As we think about the overall health of our livestock, we must also consider how our own bodies react to temperature changes. It is not the cold nor the hot days that get to us, right? It is the drastic changes from one day to the next, or hot days and cold nights that cause our livestock, and even people, to develop colds, coughs and runny noses that hinder performance and overall health. Mitigating these temperature changes in your pig operation is crucial to success and will help you push weight fast or simply maintain a consistent gain.

Utilizing windbreaks, heat lamps or adding straw to houses can help with this. These additions do not need to be extravagant — a piece of old carpet over the front of a hog house or tarps to knock down the north wind from whipping into the stalls and pens can make a huge difference. We never recommend using straw and heat lamps together, but depending on your setup, one or the other can be used in cold temperatures. If you have an enclosed barn, do not shut it up to the point that adequate fresh air is not coming in. I have seen this so many times, and it just facilitates the development and spread of sickness throughout the barn. Fresh air is a necessity, but it should be draft-free.

As we think about hot days, I firmly believe in airflow to help regulate the temperature of the facility. Fans work great to help circulate and increase airflow. Putting a fan at an angle allows your project to get directly in the airflow if extremely hot or get on the outskirts of the air if they are comfortable with the temperature. Shade is also critical in helping animals cool in the summer months. At our house, we use wood pellets in the pens that we can wet down to keep pigs cool during the day. We also put wood chips in their houses, so if it cools off at night, they can lay in a dry, warmer area if they choose.

In conclusion, being prepared for the swings in temperature is the best way to keep our projects performing and healthy. Always look for signs of discomfort, like where they are lying. Most importantly, look and listen for coughs, runny noses or loose stools during those fluctuating days in case antibiotics are needed to help them get back on track.