BPEX blog

Friday, 14 January 2011

Is ammonia affecting wean to finish performance?

We went out and measured ammonia levels in one unit’s wean to finish accommodation, where they were suspected to be a bit high. The ammonia level in the weaner accommodation (pens of 52 or 26 pigs) was 20-22ppm and in the finisher accommodation it was 35ppm. The ventilation in the finisher pens was less effective at removing ammonia, where we could see dust on the exterior of roof vents.

Increasing ventilation rate to decrease ammonia levels is an option but it would also decrease temperature which, in cold weather, would have a negative on growth rate. As growth rate is excellent currently we felt this to be unnecessary.

On the day of our visit only two pigs showed signs of tail biting so high ammonia was not correlated with tail biting in this case.

We came up with some suggestions to further improve ventilation:
• Temporarily seal side vents closest to walls in some weaner accommodation in some rooms (until the summer) and compare piglet lying areas with those in non-sealed rooms
• Alternatively create a ‘shelf’ four inches thick underneath the side vents in the weaner accommodation. This is to prevent air dropping directly into pens closest to walls and push air further into the room instead
• Re-seal roof vents in finisher accommodation to prevent draught

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