Adjusting the feed during summer

Published: 2021-05-05

During the summer period temperatures increase and it has an influence on the well-being and performance of your pigs.

Most animals are able to remove excess heat from the body through sweating and increased breathing. Pigs are highly sensible to heat stress because they can only sweat to a limited extent.

If the pigs suffer from heat stress, it will often negatively influence productivity and hence the financial bottom line.

Both the feeding and the digestion process generate extra heat in the pigs. Therefore one of the main concerns is the potential reduction in feed intake and subsequently a drop in daily gain, an increased feed conversion and a lower milk yield for lactating sows.

Vilomix recommend the following to minimize the negative impact on the pigs of the high temperature conditions:

Heat stress

Heat stress occurs when the pig is unable to maintain its body core temperature 

Feeding tips:

  • Use feed formulations specially designed for hot periods
  • Increase the energy concentration in the feed so the pigs achieve the same energy uptake with less feed intake
  • Add betaine to the mineral mixture. Betaine is a vitamin-like substance that regulates the animals' fluid metabolism in the body. Betaine is widely used in herds in the Southern and Eastern part of Europe, where the summer temperatures often reach 35-40 °C. The dosage of betaine should be within the range of 600 - 1000 mg/kg
  • Reduce the fiber content – eg. by decreasing the sugar beet pulp
  • Reduce the protein level

Water supply tips:

  • Make sure that the no. of drinking cups/nipples are adequate to the number of pigs (max 10 pigs/nipple and max 15 pigs/cup)
  • Use cool water if possible
  • Check if nipples/cups provide sufficient amounts of water

Management tips:

  • Move the feeding time to early morning or to the evening
  • Increase the feeding frequency
  • Do not increase the stocking density - animals need more place to cool down
  • Check the ventilation/increase the air flow
  • Use sprinkler systems for cooling

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