Home News Michigan Ag News How Heat Can Negatively Affect Your Pigs and Pork Production

How Heat Can Negatively Affect Your Pigs and Pork Production

As heat and humidity return to Michigan, it’s time to start thinking about how the heat can have a negative effect on your livestock.

Dr. Chris Hostetler, Director of Animal Science with the National Pork Board, says when pigs get overheated, that can affect their eating habits. Their feed consumption can be reduced by ten percent which can ultimately stunt their growth.

“They found out that really what happens is the pigs under heat stress conditions have what’s called leaky gut syndrome, so that they absorb the nutrients in a much less efficient manner,” according to Dr. Hostetler. “So, it’s actually a twofold, double whammy, if you will, due to heat stress. Not only do they eat less, but what they do eat they absorb more poorly than under normal growing condition.”

Dr. Hostetler says to look for warning signs when pigs are suffering from heat stress.

“Certainly, increased respiration rate, laying over the cool parts of the floor. If you have a partially-slatted floor, they will lay over the slats rather than the solid portion of the floor. And of course, that changes their dunging patterns, dunging behavior. If you’ve got a water meter on your building, you can see water intake, increased water utilization increase. Those are some of the indicators that pigs are no longer operating in their thermal-neutral zone and that they’re warmer than what they typically would be,” says Dr. Hostetler.

He also says making sure fans in the hog barns are turned on and properly maintained.

“Certainly, keeping the barns and the settings on the ventilation, you know, making sure that those are correct for fan speeds and number of fans running, but also making sure that all of it is maintained. So, maintain maintaining your fan motors and maintaining your fan louvers and intakes and the outlets, extremely important, as well as curtain mechanisms are raising and lowering the curtains. That can be a challenge as well,” says Dr. Hostetler.

For more information on pig performance in summer heat, producers can visit porkcheckoff.org or call the Producer Service Center at 800-456-7675.

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s report on how heat can negatively affect your pigs and pork production.

Sources: NAFB, National Pork Board

Photo courtesy of the Pork Checkoff.