An Iowa State University (ISU) animal scientist is heading up a research project to figure out the physiological impacts of heat stress on pigs.

“The primary objectives are to evaluate why and how heat stress reduces swine productivity,” explains Lance Baumgard, associate professor and the Norman L. Jacobson Endowed Professor of Nutritional Physiology at ISU.

“Heat stress is the costliest issue for American animal agriculture and is even more economically devastating in the developing world. If climate change continues as predicted, the negative effects of environmental heat stress on pig production will become more severe,” he says.

Developing a clear understanding of the biological mechanisms responsible for reduced productivity during heat stress is necessary in order to formulate strategies to improve subpar production during the warm months, Baumgard adds.

The researcher is heading a team of animal scientists from Iowa State, the University of Arizona, the University of Missouri and Virginia Tech University. The group will study how heat affects swine in several ways including nutrition, reproduction, muscle biology and immunology.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided $2.5 million in funding for five years.