Avoid heat stress

Heat stress negatively affects the productive capacity of fattening pigs and sows. Their feed intake could decrease by 100g per day for each degree the temperature rises above 22 °C. Above that, heat stress can severely impair sow’s fertility and lactation performance.

Fattening pigs and lactating sows have a different thermal comfort zone than piglets, which can give difficulties when they are raised in the same environment. The comfort zone of sows has a limit of 22 °C, while that of piglets starts at 30 °C. If the temperature rises above 22 °C, sows experience heat stress that affects productive capacity. Furthermore, voluntary feed intake gets restricted and consequently lowers milk yield. This may result in lower piglet performance.

Obviously, heat stress is something that should not be neglected. Take the following recommendations into account next time the mercury rises above 22 °C.

  1. Disturb the animals as little as possible. Feed them at cooler parts of the day, postpone vaccinations and other treatments, and avoid mixing animals with different thermal comfort zones.
  2. Keep the animals cool with proper ventilation, avoid high humidity, and apply cool drinking water.
  3. Take care of feed and drinking water hygiene.
  4. Adjust the feed where possible: add anti-stress vitamins (E and C), add sodium-bicarbonate to compensate for the extra breathing, and feed higher concentrated feeds to compensate for lower feed intakes. Fat as energy source gives the least internal heat production, which is good for fatteners. Lactation feed however should contain enough starch to support the next production cycle.

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