This summer's high temperatures will bring a new meaning to the phrase "sweating like a pig."
In reality, pigs only have a few sweat glands, and they're pretty useless when it comes to temperature adjustment. But just because they rarely sweat, doesn't mean your pigs don't get hot. Overheating affects their weight and overall health, and it's your responsibility to do what you can to keep them cool.
Here are a few tips to help your pigs beat the heat.
Keep the Barn Ventilated
Without air conditioning, ventilation is the best way to keep your barn from feeling like a furnace. You want to increase airflow while also preventing drafts and reducing humidity. Your barn should have a ventilation system, and it's important to have it on the right setting.
Remember that the temperature your system is set to isn't the temperature of your barn's interior. It's actually the temperature you want the controller to operate at. In hot weather air movement is key.
Sprinklers will work in conjunction with the ventilation system to keep the barn cool even when the outside temperature continues to rise. The cool water will keep your pigs from overheating, and the evaporative cooling effect that happens as they dry will also help regulate their body temperatures.
Instead of running your sprinklers all the time, set them to turn on for no more than two minutes every half hour. It's also better to set the system to spray large water droplets instead of mist, because a fine mist will add to the humidity.
Check Food and Water More Often
Your pigs obviously need adequate food and fresh water to stay healthy, but increased temperatures can change their usual eating and drinking routines. They're more likely to eat at night when the air is cooler, and you should check their feeders more frequently to ensure they have the food they need when they're at their hungriest.
They'll also drink more water to keep from dehydrating. Keep checking on them to make sure they don't run out of cool drinking water.
Pigs make up for their lack of sweat glands with their love of mud. Wallowing in mud effectively lowers body temperature and keeps them from overheating. When your pigs are out to pasture, you can help them stay cool by making sure there's enough mud to go around.
Set up sprinklers and let nature do the rest of the work. As an added benefit, dried mud works as piggy sun screen from direct sunlight.
Above all, keep an eye on your pigs and watch for signs of overheating. Increased panting, loss of appetite, weight loss, and lethargy all point to heat stress. If you think it's hot out, so do your pigs. Take care of your pigs in extreme heat by keeping them safe and cool.
Do you own pigs? How do you keep them cool in the summer heat? Let us know in the comments below.
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