It’s amazing how fast we’ve transitioned from winter to spring in the upper Midwest. Less than 3 weeks ago we had snow drifts and ice everywhere. On Thursday of this past week, near Waterloo, Iowa I saw 2 farmers applying anhydrous ammonia and another combining corn, with dust being raised in both cases.
This rapid transition is catching barn managers by surprise. In the case of our research barns, we had to take the winter covers off our tunnel fans and make sure the tunnel curtain was operating 2 weeks ago. We begin sales from one of the barns this week, meaning the pigs are over 240 lb liveweight. This means we will be in the first stages of tunnel ventilation when outside air temperatures are in the mid to upper 50’s.
In our facilities, we have closable doors on the eave inlets along the west side. The rapid rise in outside air temperatures also means we need to have these doors open and the bird netting cleared of debris since this air inlet source is critical to correct ventilation system functioning for the ventilation stage just prior to tunnel operation.
Based on my producer experiences, I’m willing to bet a number of facilities are still in ‘winter’ mode. This means there is a good chance that the barn is under-ventilated for heat removal. The net result is fans operating at much higher static pressure which increases operating costs for the fans.
In addition, there is a good chance the pigs in the facility may be subject to moderate heat stress when the ventilation system fails to remove the heat they produce. In barns which we have placed temperature loggers as part of a series of ventilation workshops, it is not uncommon to record temperatures at this time of year above the growing pigs thermal neutral zone.
While spring according to the calendar only began 1 week ago, for the pig in many facilities it is already summer. Before you get too busy thinking about spring fieldwork, be sure you ventilation system is ready for the warm temperatures that are coming in the next weeks.