Agriculture

Keeping Our Cool in the Hot Summer

They say if you don’t like the weather in Illinois, wait a few hours and it will change. And let me tell you, the pigs and I are VERY glad it changed!

The end of last week was miserable. I’m talking a real feel of 105° and humidity that had to have been at least 1005%. Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic on the humidity, but it sure felt muggy out!

Keeping our pigs cool in such yucky weather can be a real challenge. Pigs sunburn easily, and they can’t sweat like humans can. That means we have to take extra care to keep them safe and comfortable when temperatures spike.

Inside the barn, we have fans running constantly. We have a few set up in the alleys to keep air moving. We also place fans above the farrowing crates to keep our sows cool. Each pen and farrowing crate in the barn has a drinker installed so every pig has 24/7 access to water.

Outside, we manage our pigs a little differently. Each pen has adequate shade to give the pigs a place to get out of the hot sun. Depending on the location of the pens, some have drinkers and some have large water tanks. Either option helps us to ensure the pigs always have water to stay hydrated.

Our pigs can’t talk and tell us when they are too hot, so we check on them frequently and look for signs of overheating. If we see a pig laying down and panting hard, we know it is getting warm and uncomfortable. When that happens, we can move some fans around to circulate more air, or spray a little water on them to help cool them off.

Finally, we are careful not to overwork our pigs in the heat. We wait to feed until nighttime when the temperatures drop a little, and the showpigs only get walked in the early morning or later at night. For the most part, we just try to let all the animals hang out in the shade and relax all day.

To say it has been a whirlwind of weather changes over the last 6 months would be an understatement. From -56° last winter, to 105° now, our climate likes to keep us on our toes. We can’t change the weather, but we can do our best to work with it and keep our animals as safe and comfortable as possible. What have you been doing to beat the heat? Leave a comment and let me know!

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