Pig farmers are being reminded to check carefully the set ventilation rates of pens during cold weather following routine inter-batch pressure-washing and disinfection.
After cleaning, many operatives set the minimum ventilation rate very high to help dry out house interiors before the next lot of pigs is moved into the building, points out Tim Miller, an environmental specialist with ARM Buildings.
“I have come across cases recently where the stock person has forgotten to turn down the minimum ventilation rate after restocking the pens and has then found that the occupants have become too cold. Chilling can be particularly dangerous in young pigs, if it is not picked up quickly,” he says.
He also warns farmers against setting the minimum temperature too low in an effort to keep pigs warm. Care has to be taken to ensure that air is changed, whatever the outside temperature. If the building is not warm enough at minimum temperature setting then supplementary heating should be considered, he says.
With low outside temperatures at this time of year, farmers should also check that their alarm systems are working properly, especially that the batteries and motors are working, in the case of ventilation failures or power-cuts.
Ideally, there should be a written protocol for each house so that it is clear exactly what action should be taken, and by whom, if an alarm is raised. Even at this time of year pigs can quickly suffocate, he advises.