Of prime importance for any swine operation is providing a proper farrowing environment for your sow and piglets. Maximum performance for your herd begins on day one, with every effort made to ensure the comfort and care of the animals. At the top of the list for creature comfort is achieving an ideal temperature for sow and piglets.
Since juvenile animals have different temperature requirements than adult ones, finding the ideal environment can pose a challenge. A sow’s comfort zone is around 70°F. However, baby pigs need much more heat to sustain their body temperatures. Hog farmers have found that the most cost-efficient way to provide that needed warmth for piglets is with a heating mat. Therefore, finding the safe operating temperature ranges of heating pads is vital for the performance of the piglets.
Why Proper Heating is Important
Without sufficient heat, piglets can face conditions that could lead to hypothermia, disease, and loss. Hypothermia will occur when a pig cannot maintain its body temperature as a result of prolonged exposure to low environmental temperatures. A pig’s body temperature should be at 101.5-102.5°F (38.5-39°C). Low ambient temperatures can be a problem for pigs any time in their life, but maintaining the correct body temperature for piglets is especially critical for them during their first seven days. They require temperatures of 90°F or more in order to maintain their body temperature. Pigs are born without brown fat, which mammals use to generate heat rapidly when temperatures drop. Because of this, in cold or cooler conditions, piglets do not have the ability to generate heat for themselves. One source of energy is their mother’s milk, but producers generally want that energy to go toward growth, not maintaining body temperature.
Ideal Farrowing House Temperature Ranges
Maintaining an ambient temperature in the farrowing house of approximately 70°F to 74°F with a heating pad can help prevent the reduction in body temperature of piglets. Knowing the safe temperature range for the heating pad is essential. Heating pad temperatures for piglets differ from that of adult animals. The pad surface should remain constant and uniform. The safe heating pad temperature should be maintained at approximately 90-105°F.
Heat Pads vs. Heat Lamps
Heat mats provide sufficient warmth that the piglets require and can do so cost effectively. Heat pads use dramatically less power than traditional heat lamps—and even less with heat pad controllers. Heat pads also provide a degree of safety by greatly reducing crush losses from piglets snuggling by sows for warmth.
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* Illustration represents heat pads and heat lamps operating at 100% power. Assumes sows are moved to Farrowing Barn three days prior to farrowing and no “downtime” in between groups. Figures are based solely upon user’s entered information. Osborne Industries assumes no responsibility and makes no guarantees about actual monetary or energy savings. The information is to be used for illustration purposes only.
Maintaining Optimal Heat with Stanfield® Heat Pads
Osborne’s Stanfield heat pads excel at maintaining a stable and safe temperature for newborn piglets. The heat pad will provide the supplemental heat necessary for neonate piglets as well as growing nursery pigs. Unlike other heat pads which can have hot spots or inconsistent temperature ranges, Osborne’s Stanfield heat pads are designed to provide uniform warmth across the pads of approximately 30 to 35°F above the ambient temperature of the room, when operated at full power. The Stanfield heat pad was the very first used in pork production and it has stood the test of time. The pads provide a warm laying area for the animals to rest, and keep them safely away from the sows to prevent crush losses.
The appropriate temperature for sows and piglets in the farrowing house is a combination of ambient and local heat sources to meet each animal’s requirements. Heating pads provide sufficient warmth to meet the piglet’s needs. The safe operating temperature of heating pads is one in which the piglets will thrive. No more than 105°F and no less than 90°F should sustain the piglets in that critical first week. Knowing the temperature range for your piglets heating pads will ensure their performance and the overall strength of your herd.