<%@LANGUAGE="JavaScript1.3"%> Swine Health Management - Air  

Problems Encountered on Farms:
(The following is a montage of common problems seen on pig farms.)

Pig behavior Draughts Dust Cooling
Management Errors Tools to examine
ventilation system


Pig Behavior: the best indication that the ventilation system is working satisfactorily. Note: this requires undisturbed pigs. When you examine the pigs be quiet and ideally examine through a window.

Normal comfortable finishers. Pigs in all positions some together as a social group, others on their side allowing heat lost to floor. Finishing pigs who are piling. The pigs were sleeping in a draught. Tail biting, pneumonia and colitis are common in chilled grower/finishers.

Chilled weaners. These weaners are very prone to Glassers, meningitis and scour problems. Chilled piglets. These animals are very prone to disease such as E. coli scour and to overlay from their mother

Piglets which are too hot. The creep ambient air was at 48C. These piglets have too variable an air temperature. These weaners are too hot. The animals were breathing very heavily. Pigs loose heat through evaporation.

As pigs get too hot they will start wallowing in their own manure to keep cool and thus look very dirty. Lactating sows which are too hot will not milk properly. Note: poor udder this sow was at 28C.


Draughts are the major cause of many diseases of the pig. It is essential to avoid draughts in the sleeping area.

Broken windows leading to draughts. In pregnant sows, this often results in abortion, Doors left open or doors that do not shut properly result in draughts.

Failure of the safety systems to seal can lead to draughts. Poor building design, this Yorkshire boarding is too wide.

Curtain not shutting properly. Holes in the curtain and draughts.

Draught from a torn sausage ventilation tube. Draughts are also common in outdoor pigs with poorly maintained arcs.
Dust: Pig housing can produce a lot of dust. The respirable dust is very hazardous to the health of the pigs and people. All feeders should be covered to control dust

Cooling: It is essential to prevent pigs from getting too hot. They loose a lot of heat through evaporative cooling. The pictures show a spray cooler and a shade. Ensure that the cooling system works and is well maintained.


Management errors: are all too common on pig farms due to poor maintenance, repair and lack of protocols.
Damaged creep lid resulting in excessive heat loss and chilling of the piglets. An normal insulated creep lid with little air movement.
Fan maintenance is generally very poor with dirty rotten fans causing poor ventilation and pneumonia. A dirty fan is 40% less efficient than a clean fan.
Internal air vents. One is stuck shut reducing ventilation. Other can be open resulting in draughts. Missing flap resulting in back pressure on the fan reducing its efficiency.
Fan protection flaps completely stuck shut though greasy dust. This stopped the ventilation Fan protection flap stuck open with build up of greasy dust.
ACNV flaps which are open variably due to damaged hydraulics. Variable ventilation patterns resulted. Inlet direction cawing needing repair.
The building has a wide variety of weather conditions to content with, can it change rapidly enough. Weeds and ivy choking the boarding resulting in very poor ventilation patterns within the yard.
Kennel systems require additional flaps in the winter time, and in the summer time may need removing. Thermostats which monitor the environment also need to be clean and in good working order.
Farm electrics are often very poorly maintained. This box became wet and shorted out a fan, resulting in severely heat stressed pigs. Safety flaps and alarms have to be in good working order and regularly (weekly) checked to ensure they work.
Light is also part of the air. Light is part of the reproduction requirements (500 lux) and is needed to see the pigs (>50 lux). Adequate bird proofing is required to reduce feed wastage and reduce risk of diseases ? Salmonella etc.
The siting of a building will affect the ventilation inside the building. These trees were a wind break but vortexed the air. Internal wooden batons disturb air flow along the ceiling and can lead to down draughts.


Tools to examine ventilation system:
Temperature and humidity pen. Smoke to visualize draughts and air movement patterns.
Wind vane to quantify the air movement. Gas detection sticks, CO, CO2, NH4 and H2S.