Welcome to Summer! Hot weather marks the beginning of the summer season and all creatures can benefit from ways to keep cool when the temperatures rise, including both domesticated and farm animals alike. Most people who have domesticated animals like cats or dogs know to give their pets plenty of water and keep them inside when the temperatures rise. But, what about animals that live outside, like pigs?
Pigs do not have functional sweat glands, so they cannot sweat to keep themselves cool. Not being able to sweat to cool themselves off can quickly lead to heat stress. Full grown pigs are most comfortable when the temperatures are between 50* and 75*. Anything over 80* for a pig over 100 pounds can quickly turn into a life-threatening levels of heat stress. John Goltz, the Mini Pig Farrier, travels the country and sees suggests how different swine farms in a multitude of climates can beat the heat. “Environment plays a factor. Concrete, rock/gravel, and asphalt pens can get too hot, which is where mud, grass and sheds/barns come into play to help bring down the heat in a pig’s area,” Goltz states. Below are some DIY heat hacks to keep your swine cool during these hot summer months.
Water: One of the best ways to keep your pigs cool this summer is to make sure that they have plenty of water. Keeping their troughs filled with cool drinking water is one of the best ways to help your pigs stay safe in the heat of the summer months. Use kiddie pools in selected areas to provide an alternative cooling spot. These round, plastic, place-anywhere pools are inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes. The National Hog Farmer recommends using correctly set sprinklers inside of barns or shelters to keep pigs cool. They suggest avoiding sprinklers that provide a very fine mist as this will cause humidity levels inside of barns to increase.
Mud: Mud is another great way that pigs use to keep themselves cool. Farm Fit Living suggests making a mud hole for your pigs in the cool mornings. Pigs love a nice mud bath as it helps keep them cool. Live Science has also found that pigs wallowing in mud can lower their temperatures by 3.6* Fahrenheit and found mud baths to be more cooling than a dip in cold water. Mud is more cooling for the animal because water in mud evaporates more slowly off of the pig’s mud coated body than a water bath would and this will help to keep the animal cooler for a longer period of time. Live Science has also reported that mud baths also provide sun protection and helps to remove parasites such as ticks and lice from the animal.
Shade: Pigs can get sunburned and overheat easily. Some pig parents try to protect their pig’s pink and white skin by using sun screen directly on the animal’s skin. Although it seems as though this might help, it’s actually doing more harm than good! Since pigs cannot sweat to cool themselves off, applying sunscreen directly to their skin just locks the heat inside the animal instead of helping them cool off. Instead of using sunscreen, keep the animal in a shaded area out of the sun. Providing them with a covered sheltered area that also has a fan can greatly help them stay cool. A shelter that is made from materials like galvanized steel deflects the sun’s rays can be very beneficial per Hobby Farms. Some pig parents will even convert and insulate a small shed with a window air conditioner for their pigs to keep cool. Others find that their indoor “diva” pigs enjoy staying indoors as much as possible to stay out of the heat as inside domesticated pigs can sometimes struggle to use mud holes and kiddie pools to their advantage to cool off.
Summer is here and in some parts of the country it’s already sizzling! All creatures from domesticated to farm animals can overheat when the temperatures rise and pigs are no exception. There are so many ways to help your swine beat the heat this summer and we hope the above list spurred some ideas for your farm to keep your pigs cooler and healthier this summer. We know we haven’t seen or heard of every hack for this dilemma, so please feel free to comment on this blog with your summer heat hack for pigs!