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Extra ventilation needed for backed-up pigs

With overweight pigs backing up on many pig farms, an environmental specialist has made an urgent plea to pig farmers to check the ventilation systems in their finishing houses.

“Larger pigs produce much more heat so fans will be working harder to keep piggery temperatures down, even as cooler autumn weather approaches,” said Tim Miller of ARM Buildings.

A build-up of meal dust and other debris on fan motors and blades can seriously reduce their efficiency, so they need to be thoroughly cleaned. Similarly, the mechanisms on air inlets should be checked for sticking as well as ensuring the alarm system and whole emergency ventilation are working properly.

“A house of 1,000 pigs at the end of their finishing period can produce 170 kW of heat – enough to heat 8-10 average-sized homes,” he pointed out.  “That’s a massive amount of heat to be dispersed.”

Tim Miller has seen finishing houses with pigs as heavy as 145 kg liveweight.  “This is putting a strain on the very fabric of buildings, especially older structures, apart from welfare considerations.

“It is ironic that pig farmers are being constantly lectured on animal welfare and having to consider expensive changes to freedom-style farrowing systems while a build-up of pigs, through no fault of their own, could cause major welfare problems. The government and supermarkets do not seem to comprehend the seriousness of the situation – and the threat to future British supplies of pork,” he said.