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AHDB Pork Blog

Hot Weather: We love it, but do pigs? by Angela Cliff

undefinedWe’ve just experienced an extended period of very hot weather, well it is summer after all, and while we may be enjoying it, you need to be aware that your sows and boars will have been affected by the heat. Remember, pigs can’t sweat to keep cool and can only dissipate a small amount of heat through panting. 

So how could these high temperatures have affected your pigs? 

Sows: For lactating sows, the increased temperature will have reduced their appetite and daily feed intake, leading to an increased loss of body condition and, potentially, a reduced piglet weaning weight since milk production can be reduced; these sows may display an extended wean-to-serve interval. 

A reduced feed intake from the second week of lactation through to insemination can also produce subtle changes to maturation and the quality of the developing oocytes, resulting in increased embryo mortality and reduced conception and average herd farrowing rates. 

Boars: Although the temperature of boars’ testicles is regulated and, typically, 2-5°C cooler than body temperature, the system that assures lower testicle temperature can only compensate by so much. If the body or ambient temperature increases, at some point the internal temperature of the testicles will rise. This results in a reduced number of sperm being produced and an increased number of abnormal and infertile sperm. It’s important to remember that a heat challenge can affect sperm quality for up to three months after the period of hot weather – make a note on your calendar! 

What do you do? I am sure that many varied cooling methods have been employed recently, especially for those approaching farrowing or in the mid to late lactation stages. If you have a cooling method that seems to be working well, send a picture or description to angela.cliff@ahdb.org.uk 

undefinedFor most, the main service method is AI and most purchased AI comes from AI centres which are audited annually by an independent assessor to ensure they are operating in accordance with protocols outlined in the AHDB Pork AI Standard. The AI Standard places great emphasis on temperature control throughout the whole process, from collection, dilution, cooling, despatch and final delivery to the unit, which ensures centres are supplying a quality product. 

Unfortunately, the AI delivery site can be a weak link in the chain as AI receptacles may be incapable of maintaining the correct temperature. Check the optimal ambient temperature range with the supplier and keep a max/min thermometer in with the AI to monitor and record the internal temperature range.

We’ll be producing an ‘AI Storage and Handling’ magnet in the near future to highlight good on-farm practices to maintain AI quality.


By AHDB Pork at 19 Jul 2017, 12:17 PM

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