We received our first taste of winter this week with snow in eastern South Dakota, southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and northeast Nebraska. In my farm visits the past few weeks I’ve been working with producers, contract growers and production system field staff on proper winter operation of their ventilation and heating systems.

Every winter I see a repeat of common mistakes that have a big impact on pig comfort and energy expenses. One of the biggest – setting the controller to a recommended (or mandatory setting based on age) and assuming that will provide the best conditions for the growing pig. We still need to carefully observe pig behavior and when it isn’t correct, ask the hard questions to find the cause.

As we go into colder weather, ventilation systems are slowing down. When we start pigs in nurseries, wean-finish facilities, grow-finish facilities or use farrowing rooms we are increasingly operating our ventilation systems at the minimum ventilation rates. A common mistake that I came across at 2 different sites this past week was the assumption that the controller settings were correct and 50 percent minimum speed was approximately 50 percent of the full cfm output of the fan.

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