Environmental control as a health tool


Prophylaxis will be based on keeping the animals in thermal control zone stress-free, before, during and after parturition.

1. Environmental control before farrowing

Environmental management until the pregnant sow enters the maternity ward includes washing, hygiene, drying and preheating, which should take between 32 and 38 hours.

  • The absence of humidity is a good “exterminator” of E. Coli, whose survival in a humid environment is greater than one week.
  • Newborn piglets have a lower critical temperature (LCT) of 34ºC, but with a wet ground they experience it between 24 and 29ºC.
  • The air humidity should be between 50 and 70%.
  • The installation is “dry” when the surface temperature (floor, partitions, walls, etc.) is the same as the air temperature.

2. Environmental control during farrowing and in the first hours

A newborn piglet has reduced thermoregulatory capacity, is born wet, and when it dries by evaporation, its temperature decreases even more. There is a high risk of negative energy balance, especially in piglets with a birth weight of less than 1 kg.

  • At birth, 78% of losses are sensitive (conduction, radiation and convection).
  • The aim is to provide the piglets with safety, thermal baths and a dry rest area without drafts and with ventilation. During the first few hours, a primary nest microclimate is necessary. After that, specific treatment is needed for weak and stunted piglets (secondary nest microclimate), to allow them to recover separately and not to affect the rest of the piglets and the sow.
  • The effect of combining bedding (shredded paper) and heat (lamp) improves comfort because it reduces the loss of sensible heat.

3. Adapt two opposing environments in less than 5 m2

  • The piglet’s lower critical temperature (34 ºC) is higher than the sow’s upper critical temperature (22 ºC). This means that during the first hours of life it is crucial to create a microclimate for the piglets and keep the sow at 20ºC.

The hyperprolific sow has greatly increased heat production, so that we must ventilate in winter and avoid high temperatures (in winter and summer). In piglets, it is necessary to create a “microclimate” to cope with stressful environmental factors (humidity, temperature, temperature fluctuations, drafts, etc.).

We summarize here the most critical points identified in sows and piglets.

The environmental requirements in the area occupied by the sow and the piglet are summarized here, differentiating the needs of the sow (macro-climate) and the piglets (microclimate).

4. Microclimate (piglet nest)

  • Heating monitoring and regulation

The most critical points are the design, sizing and regulation. The recommendation is to perform attechnical study and maintain the system in good working order (maintenance, monitoring, regulation and observation).

A regular problem is the movement of air, which causes a unwanted drop in body temperature in piglets (convection). The effective temperature piglet is greatly reduced when it receives more than 0.15 m / s.

The responsible factors are air inlet and outlet, soil, waterproofing, thermal insulation, temperature, static pressure, obstructions and the control system. The aim is to improve air circulation and / or protect piglets (nests).

5. Macroclimat and ventilation management

Maintain the system in perfect condition with a comfortable environment also keeps sows and piglets in a perfect state of healthy and productive well-being.

  • Cooling begins at 22-23ºC (critical evaporation temperature = panting) to 25-26 ºC (100%), in progression (1-3 ºC).
  • Stop the process when the external relative humidity is greater than 55% or the internal relative humidity is greater than 85% because of the risk of heat stress.
  • The alternative is to ventilate with dry air or systems that reduce the temperature without depending on the percentage of relative humidity (exchangers).
  • Direct the dry air towards the sows (convection), without excess (


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