The barn climate has a direct influence on the health of the pigs and is determined by a number of factors; The temperature and the humidity of the air in the barn, the composition (e.g. ammonia, dust), the air movement, air speed and the light in the barn. When all these factors are adapted to the pigs, we can speak of a healthy barn climate for pigs. In this article we discuss how to manage these factors largely through ventilation.
Climate control in the barn for the most part consists of controlling the temperature. The difficulty in this case is the presence of different types of pigs. Per species (sows, piglets, meat pigs) the optimal temperature can be different and has to be adapted to. In the table below, we highlight estimates of desired temperatures for different species of pigs.
When it gets too cold, ventilation should be minimal to reduce heat disposal. Additional heating may be required to keep the pigs within their comfort zone. The comfort zone is defined here as the temperature limits within which little energy is required to maintain a steady body temperature. When it gets too warm, one should ventilate as much as possible to dispose of heat and create a draft.
The humidity in the barn is influenced by factors such as urine, water, manure and vapor from the pigs, but is also affected by the humidity outside of the barn. The humidity has to be approximately between 55 and 75%. With a humidity lower than 30%, the respiratory system can get dehydrated and the pigs can become more vulnerable to germs. Too much humidity on the other hand can damage the barn interior through corrosion.
The optimal composition of air in the barn would be when it is equal to the outside air. However, because of the produced heat, humidity and gasses, this is not attainable. Ammonia (NH3), sulfur sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), dust and moisture must be removed through ventilation.
Air movement and air speed
Whether a pig feels comfortable in his environment is partially determined by the air speed. Because of this, it is important that the air is equally divided. A draft is pleasant, especially when it is warm.
Taking this different factors into account, a healthy barn climate can be maintained. Want to read more about ventilation for pigs and be up to date with the latest insights? Sign up for our newsletter below, or have a look at our page with fans for pig barns.