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Keeping 4-H Market Pigs Warm During Cold Weather

Many 4-H members across the state have recently purchased market pigs.  These young people are in the middle of raising their animal for a local county fair this Spring.  It is getting to be the time of year when cold fronts will roll through Florida. As cold fronts pass through our state, we see a lot of temperature fluctuation.  The warm weather, followed by rain, followed by cold weather, then often followed by warm weather again, can be hard on an animal’s immune system.

This 4-H member is caring for her project animal.

Some tips to help protect your pig from extreme changes in weather, and in particular, colder weather, include providing access to shelter with dry bedding (such as straw, shavings, pine needles).  The bedding should be thick enough where your animal will sleep so that your pig can burrow down into the bedding at their choice. Draft and wind protection, especially from the north wind, is also a good idea.

 

Be Very Cautious with Heat Lamps

Some people like to utilize a heat lamp to help keep their pig warm on really cold nights. If you do this, remember to safely and properly use the heat lamp for your pig. It is extremely important that you keep the heat lamp a safe distance away from bedding to prevent a fire.  You also need to place the heat lamp so that your pig can’t reach it and chew on the electric wire or the lamp itself. Please be very careful when using these lamps!

Temperature and Comfort Zone

Understanding what temperature ranges pigs find comfortable can help keep your animal comfortable this Winter.

  • Lower Critical Temperature (LTC) is the temperature below which a pig expends extra energy to try to stay warm.
  • Upper Critical Temperature (UTC) is the temperature that pigs start having heat stress.
  • The Thermo-neutral zone, or Comfort Zone, is the temperature range in between LTC and UTC.
  • Thermal environment is created by the temperature, moisture, and airflow/wind interaction. Wind/draft, moisture, and age of animal influences the comfort zone.

In general, younger (lighter) animals prefer warmer conditions, and as the animals grow they can tolerate colder temperatures.  A feeder pig weighting about 60 pounds with access to straw will typically find it comfortable between 55-73 degrees Fahrenheit, according to https://thepigsite.com/husbandry/environmental-management/environmental-temperatures.  This site also provides a basic guide for comfort zone of pigs on various types of flooring, not taking into account airflow or moisture.

References

https://extension.wsu.edu/animalag/content/environmental-management-of-young-pigs-during-cool-weather/

https://thepigsite.com/husbandry/environmental-management/environmental-temperatures

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/4h407