Pig producers should ensure ventilation is in good working order to prevent heat stress as summer temperatures rise.
“We’re now starting to see sustained higher temperatures, which means pigs will become susceptible to heat stress,” explains Mark McFarland, feed additive product manager at Lallemand Animal Nutrition.
Heat stress can significantly impact productivity levels, with suffering pigs exhibiting irregular feeding behaviour and a loss of appetite, resulting in lower feed intakes and subsequently, inconsistent and reduced performance.
Carrying out simple maintenance like removing dust and applying grease to moving parts where needed, can make a huge difference to the amount of clean and cool air reaching the pigs, says Mr McFarland.
As well as ensuring proper ventilation, it is important producers look out for the signs of heat stress, including panting, loss in weight and lethargy, and adjust management practices accordingly.
“Feeding smaller portions regularly can help to prevent gorging which can lead to bloat and sudden death. Meals should be available during the cooler parts of the day as pigs will be more likely to empty troughs reducing waste and poor trough hygiene.”
For those who are experiencing reduced or varied feed intakes, particularly in sows, Mr McFarland advises adding a proven probiotic supplement to the diet. This can help encourage pigs to adapt their eating behaviour to the heat stress conditions.
“Ultimately, a combined approach of adapting feeding patterns and making sure environmental factors like ventilation and drinking water systems are functioning properly will help provide pigs with the best protection against heat stress.”
To help producers monitor the likelihood of heat stress occurring, Lallemand are providing free hand-held temperature and humidity monitors while stocks last.