Every pig producer wants their herd to be as healthy as possible. Diseases cost money to treat. And besides, healthy pigs are more productive and profitable. The link between pig health and building ventilation is really important. When your pigs breathe easy, there’s a better chance you can too.
What is it?
Building ventilation can get complicated. But in simple terms, it’s about three things:
- Bringing in fresh air
- Removing stale air (and the pathogens it contains)
- Providing the optimum temperature to keep your pigs comfortable
Why does ventilation matter?
In short: improving building ventilation can improve your bottom line too.
Stale air contains all sorts: disease-causing microbes, dust and harmful gases. Without good ventilation, stale air can makes pigs ill and trigger respiratory diseases. But when you have a system that effectively circulates fresh air and regulates temperature, it has a positive impact on your pigs’ health, wellbeing and performance.
It’s all about finding a system that fits your pigs, your building and your business. An unsuitable ventilation system can be worse than none at all - impacting pig health as well as your pocket. Ventilation simply isn’t something you can afford to blow hot and cold about.
The phrase sweating like a pig is not without honest foundations. Pigs are extremely sensitive to ambient temperature. Too cold and pigs have to use energy they take on from food to stay warm. That means they will not grow as well as they could. Excess heat meanwhile will suppress appetites and air quality will deteriorate, leaving your animals more susceptible to disease. To reach peak condition, pigs need the temperature to be just right.
The optimum temperature required for happy pigs is in a constant state of flux, depending on age, weight and other factors. Another factor that affects the necessary optimum temperature is how much a pig has eaten. The less a pig eats, the more warmth it needs to stay comfortable. For example piglets need warmer conditions after weaning, while their feed intake is low.
During the chilly winter months you will most likely have to artificially heat your pig housing to keep your herd warm. Good building insulation is key to keeping your costs down - and can save you a fortune.
The ideal humidity for your pig housing is somewhere between 60 and 90% (RH). When the air is too dry it can affect pigs’ nasal mucosa and increases the risk of contracting infections. Excess humidity meanwhile provides ideal conditions for pathogens to spread in water droplets.
No two pig houses are exactly the same. It’s important to get a ventilation system that fits the nuances of your building. Consider ceiling obstructions such as purlins, water tanks and strip lights, which can affect airflow. Watch out for wear and tear too. A few seemingly innocuous gaps or cracks in the structure of your building can throw your whole ventilation system out of whack.
A little help
Getting your ventilation system right can feel a little overwhelming. After all, it’s a precise science and there are lots of factors involved - including the type of ventilation system, building design, outside temperature, wind conditions and insulation as well as the number, weight and age of animals being held.
The good news? AHDB Pork has released a comprehensive guide that takes you through every single thing you need to consider - one step at a time. Best of all it’s free. The aim is to help you provide maximum comfort to your pigs - and reap maximum performance - for the least possible cost.
Highly recommended. Take a look!
AHDB: Ventilating Pig Buildings Guide
For further information please contact your veterinary surgeon or Zoetis UK Ltd., Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. www.zoetis.co.uk Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible)