This time of year, one minute it’s warm and sunny, the next it’s overcast and cold. That’s a mere inconvenience for those working with and transporting pigs – but it can have a big impact on the pigs themselves.
When transporting pigs, handlers and drivers need to be aware of climate changes that can impact pig health. In many areas of the country in spring, temperatures can fluctuate 10 to 30 degrees throughout the day. Transporters must keep this potential variance in mind as they prepare to transport pigs to ensure their body temperatures remain in the thermoneutral zone. For market hogs, the maximum suggested temperature is in the upper 60s, but humidity plays a part as well.
For air quality, barn and truck environment are usually improved in warm weather because it is more open. But if a cold snap should occur, remember that any time ventilation is minimized, air quality can be compromised, which, in turn, can compromise pig well-being.
Keeping open ventilation to the site helps prevent the spread of disease from pig to pig in the same barn or trailer and ensures that harmful levels of carbon monoxide do not build up.
For a comprehensive look at good production practices related to pig transport, refer to the Pork Checkoff Transport Quality Assurance TQA Handbook and the TQA Extreme Weather Guide. Pork checkoff research on the impact of seasonal changes on pig transport and ways to manage it can also be beneficial. Resources can be found at www.pork.org or contact National Pork Board Certification Program Manager Stacy Revels at SRevels@pork.org or (515) 223-2795.