Have you ever stepped into your hog building and thought it felt like a balmy beach vacation day, only to realize that the heater and the fans were both running full blast? While that may feel quite comfortable to you, of course it is not at all efficient or economical. 

Animals housed inside a building produce heat, moisture and gas. Their heat is a result of metabolism, and the larger they grow, the more heat they produce. Moisture comes not only from pigs’ respiration but also from drinking water spills and the evaporation of urine and manure. Gas develops from stored manure. 

Ventilation is necessary to remove the excess heat, moisture and gas that accumulate in the building.  Spring is one of the more challenging times to manage buildings in terms of keeping the pigs warm enough at night and comfortably well-ventilated during the day.

No matter what their size, during springtime weather fluctuations pigs need to be kept dry and out of a draft. Unpredictable seasonal weather can change quickly, which means you have to keep a close eye on adjusting ventilation controllers to ensure proper ventilation rates to remove moisture, gas and dust from the inside environment. You will need to keep heater thermostats set to supplement the room or building with heat if the outside temperature drops.

The two accompanying tables show recommended ventilation rates and temperatures for pigs according to their size. Reviewing these tables when you set the controllers in a swine building can help you most efficiently dry and cool or heat the pigs’ environment.

Attentive building maintenance habits can maximize the effects of your careful controller settings. Here’s what you need to do sooner rather than later.

  • Repair all leaking drinker nipples and water lines to reduce moisture in the building. 
  • Clean up manure and urine to further reduce the humidity and ammonia in the area. 
  • Remove dust from ventilation equipment, controllers, fans and air inlets. Clean fan blades and shrouds, and check fan motors regularly to ensure dependable operation.
    To reduce dust in the building, minimize feed handling as well as disturbing the pigs.
  • Adjust air inlet openings to the minimum ventilation rate to prevent excess cold air from entering the building. Check to see that the inlets are not plugged with dust, snow or building materials that may have been dislodged by rodents. 
  • Check and service heaters regularly, and clean out any dust. 
  • As the building ages, corrosion from dust, moisture or ammonia can damage the control units. If you think the settings or performance are inaccurate, double-check and replace control units as needed.

The pigs’ body language also can tell you whether the building or room is ventilated correctly.  Shivering or piled pigs are a signal to check for drafts, floor dampness or failures in one or more parts of the ventilation system. Studies show that pigs that have to keep themselves warm will consume more feed but produce lower average daily gain. 

Set the room’s fan speeds and temperature according to the pigs’ size, then leave them alone. A case study involving a breeding unit looking to identify the source of excess propane use tracked temperature changes inside and outside of the building. A September spike in the set-temperature alerted the researcher that the barn manager was adjusting the temperature settings for his comfort after coming in from the chilly outdoor temperatures. Hogs are accustomed to fairly steady temperatures, and it’s important to ensure that you don’t drastically change their environment.

Spring signals the beginning of warmer weather and lower energy costs. Make the seasonal change as seamless as possible for your hogs by carefully monitoring your heat and ventilation adjustments.