Why temperature is vital for pig health

Ensuring housed pigs are kept at the right temperature is vital to preventing disease and encouraging growth in indoor systems, according to Joachim Glerup Anderson of Dutch pig advisory service, LMO.

Mr Anderson said lung disease, tail-biting and defecation in laying areas could be prevented by ensuring pig pens were kept at a temperature of 21C degrees. Pig growth would also be improved if the optimum temperature was maintained.

“If you have pigs laying on slats it’s a sign they are too warm and they will start defecating on the laying area,” he said.

“If it’s too cold they will start laying on top of each other and collect in corners. When you have cold pigs they eat less, heat production decreases and they become even colder, which results in low growth.”

Mr Anderson said if pigs were defecating in laying areas, it was important to check ventilation systems and windows to check air was only entering buildings at the correct areas.

“Check for false inlets, such as holes underneath doors, gaps into slatted walls, and inlets in crenellation systems. Old buildings are not an excuse.

“Conversely, make sure it is not too hot by checking minimum ventilation levels are correct. For weaners, turn floor heating off at 15kg and open the hit lid at 20kg.

Things to consider

1. Make a weekly climate chart to check each section of the shed for minimum ventilation and temperatures

2. Check if pigs are sleeping on slatted areas

3. Check pigs are not creeping together

4. Don’t raise the temperature of a barn before you have checked the minimum ventilation – check ventilation is correct first, then alter temperatures

5. Be aware that the minimum ventilation level is not constant – it must be adjusted throughout the year depending on outside temperatures

6. Air leaks must be repaired