Pork producers with mechanically-ventilated barns should spend time preparing their facilities for cooler weather this fall in preparation for winter. Lower temperatures and snowfall in states like Michigan require producers to make adjustments in their ventilation during the winter months so that the proper environment provided. An adequate environment for pigs is essential for growth and production, according to Beth Ferry, Michigan State University Extension.

The first step is to make sure the facility is reasonably air tight. Although a barn can never be completely air tight, closing and repairing any of the holes and cracks that have developed in the recent months is a must. This will aid in maintaining static pressure in barns and allow minimal ventilation setting to work correctly.

A common practice is to seal the louvers on the large fans used for summer air flow; this can be done with insulated panels or heavy plastic sheets. Repairing any holes or cracks will also help with rodent control, which is a larger issue in the winter months, Ferry says.

Secondly, adjust room and barn inlets for winter weather. This includes hallway and attic inlet systems, which will allow fresh air to be drawn into the barn. To insure proper air flow, the attic inlet opening should be greater in space then the ceiling inlets.

Finally, check the settings on your ventilation system, Ferry says. During the winter months, ventilation should be running on minimal levels. It is important during these transition months not to set the controls so that the second- stage fans and heaters run at the same time. A common practice is to offset your heaters and second-stage fans by two degrees F, which will help eliminate spikes in temperature and wasted energy.

To prepare for the winter months and to ensure that the ventilation system is working properly, producers should spend time cleaning and repairing fans, shutters and louvers.

“Caked and dirty shutters can decrease air flow, which has a negative effect on pig growth. All heaters should be maintained and tested prior to full-time use, eliminating low temperature spikes in your barn,” Ferry says.

Using these easy steps, pork producers will be able to better prepare their swine facility for the winter months and allow for easier transitions to cold temperatures, she notes..

For more information, visit http://www.msu.edu.