Heat stress can be a major cause of economic loss for swine producers during the summer months. Between the heat and humidity, diminished feed consumption, reduced gain, and of course death, producers struggle with keeping their pigs healthy and productive when temperatures are on the rise.
Brookside Agra‘s Tim Nelson says producers should follow four fundamental tips for maintaining swine health in the summer. Nelson has more than 30 years of industry experience and serves as the company’s leader in animal health and nutrition sales. (This article was contributed by Brookside Agra.)
Nelson offers up these tips for producers to keep in mind as the heat descends on us:
- Get on your hands and knees: Many producers will walk through a barn and think it feels like it’s comfortable, but that’s at their height, not at the level of the pigs. Bend over or get on your hands and knees in the barn and feel what the pigs are actually experiencing. You will likely feel a difference in temperatures. Talk to a ventilation expert on how you can improve air movement to keep all levels of the barn cooler.
- Keep the water flowing: Make sure the waterers are all working properly. Nipples tend to plug, which can reduce the flow of water. Medications, hard water and food debris from the pigs’ mouths can often cause clogs. Get in the habit of flushing the water lines and checking flow rates. Here are the recommended minimum flow rates:
- Weaned pigs up to 25 lbs. — 1-1.5 cups per minute (too much flow or pressure may scare off newly weaned piglets)
- Pigs 25-50 lbs. — 2-2.2 cups per minute
- Pigs 50-140 lbs. — 3-3.2 cups per minute
- Pigs 140 lbs.- mkt — 4-4.2 cups per minute
- Sows and Boars — 2-3 quarts per minute
- Draw pigs to drink: To help encourage swine to drink, add Brookside Agra’s natural Brook-Lytes to their drinking water. The non-medicated, pH-buffered electrolyte draws pigs to drink with its highly palatable formula and unique aromatic flavor. The pH buffering ability of Brook-Lytes maintains a healthy digestive system by lowering the pH of the gut to encourage efficient digestion and reduce negative bacteria in the pig’s system. Plus, it only costs cents a day to use. Brook-Lytes can also be mixed with medicines in water to help mask the bitterness of the medicine taste. Brook-Lytes has no use restrictions or withdrawal symptoms associated with stoppage.
- A moist pig is a happy pig: Using misters, foggers and sprinklers are great ways to keep pigs cooler, if used properly. Depending on the pig and pen size, run misters for 5-10 minutes, then turn them off for 20-30 minutes to allow the evaporation process to cool the pigs. Always remember to check feeders to ensure that dripping water from wet pigs and the moisture isn’t plugging the feeders.