Answer: Pigs don’t have sweat glands so to keep them cool farmers use buildings which provide shade, airflow, and water.
While most of us like the warm summer days compared to the cold days of winter, weather can pose problems for pigs.
Pigs do not sweat like you and me because they don’t have sweat glands. They are similar to a dog and have to expel their body heat through their mouth. So hot summer days can have an adverse effect on pigs. Add some high, sticky, and muggy humidity to the day and it can become dangerous for animals.
To help pigs cope with the summer heat, water and shade and good air movement is needed. Fortunately, modern hog buildings provide just that. The buildings that house most of the hogs raised today keep the pigs warm and dry during the cold winter months and keep them as cool and comfortable as
possible in the summer. While not equipped with central air or an air conditioner like your house, these buildings have features that make the weather more bearable for the pigs.
Being indoors, the pigs are in the shade so the sun is not bearing down on them. Many fans are available in the building to move large quantities of air. As the temperature rises, automated controls will turn more fans on to move more air. Sprinklers are also used to apply a mist of cool water. The water absorbs the heat from their bodies and as it evaporates it takes some of that heat with it.
The indoor temperature in the hog building is usually a few degrees cooler than the outside temperature, which when you consider how much body heat a barn full of pigs gives off it’s pretty amazing.
During my lifetime, I have raised pigs in outside lots and in barns or buildings. The pigs in the modern buildings have always been more comfortable and the temperature has always been cooler. In outside lots, pigs wallowed in the mud to keep cool and would sunburn easily. Needless to say, the pigs inside were much more comfortable.
When it’s hot outside farmers take it easy on their pigs. We keep them cool by doing any kind of work that requires the pigs to have to move around early in the day when it is cooler such as moving them from one pen to another or walking pens to check for sick pigs.
Taking the proper measures to insure that the pigs are as comfortable as possible is just one of the many things that we do, as farmers, to take care of our animals.
CARL HEIDE – FOURTH GENERATION HOG AND GRAIN FARMER, DEKALB