Feeding and watering of pigs during hot weather

Feeding your pigs in summer

In order to promote the comfort of the animals and maintain the level of performance, less thermogenic feeds should be preferred. This requires a slight increase in the energy concentration of the feed, provided in the form of fat, as well as limiting the level of fibre and indigestible protein (while maintaining the levels of essential amino acids). For more information, you can refer to the literature review of the topic.

For the micronutrient part (vitamins, trace elements, plant extracts), you can refer to the webinar of Dr. Panagiotis Sakkas and the literature review on the topic.

In case of hot weather conditions, in addition to using less thermogenic feed (the thermal effect of the feed represents about 30% of the total heat production of the pig), several management adaptations can take place.

It is advisable to stagger meals during the cooler hours (early morning and late evening). It is also preferable to split meals when the distribution system allows it, as this will reduce the peak heat production induced by feed intake. Finally, if intense heat waves are predicted, preventive rationing the day before can promote a better recovery of the animals once the heat wave episode has passed and can also reduce performance losses rate during these periods.

Animal hydration

10% loss of body water content leads to death in pigs, while the body can draw more from its proteins.

Water consumption in pigs is almost zero during the dark periods. There are usually two peaks in water consumption: one in mid-morning and one in late afternoon.

The increase in water consumption as the temperature rises is greater for heavier pigs. Therefore, sufficient access to fresh water must be maintained while respecting the number of animals per distribution system, especially during the finishing period.

Checking the flow rate of water troughs is particularly recommended during the summer period. In a liquid feeding system, it is recommended that an additional water meal is distributed in the late afternoon (the hottest period of the day, which is also the period when the animals drink the most).

In maternity wards, a drinking system outside the trough allows you to have clean water supply at all times, while avoiding having to empty the trough.

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