BPEX blog

Monday, 13 December 2010

Cold snaps – thoughts from the East

The forecast is for another drop in temperature later in the week. The outdoor guys are probably better equipped for winter periods than most indoor producers. While indoor producers will lag their pipes, if it freezes within their buildings it can then be extremely difficult to get sufficient water around these units by any mechanical format.

The outdoor producers usually have the mechanical means to deliver water seven days a week when needed to all stock. Many will hire additional tractor/loaders over the winter and, in turn, extra labour can be brought in by the larger units with arable farms. Additional costs are also considered a necessity in the pre-winter months by the stocking of plumbing fittings that may also be required.

Extreme cold weather is causing headaches at abattoirs too where it has been reported on many occasions over the past couple of weeks that frozen water has meant that cleaning and disinfection of lorries has not been possible. This is clearly not ideal from an animal disease perspective and we would urge abattoirs every night during the cold bout to ensure that hosepipes don't freeze up overnight, and try and insulate exposed taps with a thermal cover.

Regarding the feeding of outdoor sows, if the ambient temperature at 15 C = base feeding level, then for every one degree C below base temperature they should be fed an additional 100gms. While I am not a nutritionist, I think the industry would develop another ration if we were to regularly face these prolonged extreme cold periods, possibly not seen since 1981.

Piglet mortality has risen over this cold spell where units were unfortunate to be batch farrowing during this period. Outdoor sows and piglets survive surprisingly well when cold, as has been shown by Dr Emma Baxter at SAC who looked at thermal images of piglets being born in outdoor farrowing arks compared to indoor sows immediately after giving birth. Snow, we can cope with but cold, wet, windy extremes are certainly conditions that pig/man can not do with and I hope we do not see.

Let us know how you have been getting on so far – coping with loading ramps, water pipes etc…

There’s some information here on coping in the extreme weather.

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