BPEX blog

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

BPEX Blog: Coping in the cold

The temperature has dropped across the country with many areas experiencing snow and ice. The outdoor producers 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 can cause headaches at abattoirs too when the water freezes and it makes cleaning and disinfection of lorries difficult, or even impossible. This is clearly not ideal from an animal disease perspective and we would urge abattoirs every night during the cold spell 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 100g.Let us know how you have been getting on so far – coping with loading ramps, water pipes etc…

There is some information here on coping in the extreme weather, originally published in autumn 2010, but just as applicable today.


A few top tips, directly from producers, include:

  • Ensure pigs get up five or six times each day, otherwise they will just huddle and not eat, drink or pee. Cold weather stresses pigs and stress can make them ill.
  • Adjust vents
  • Block draughts 
  • Use plenty of straw
  • Check the lagging around water pipes 
  • Consider putting heaters (oil radiators) next to the water pump to help stop it from freezing
  • If you turn your tap on to stop water freezing, you need to turn it on properly – not just a little bit or it won’t help
  • Try covering your water pipes in straw and draining all the water pipes every evening to help prevent your water system from freezing up. But don't forget that water then needs to be switched back on in the morning.

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