Finishing pig backlog could be putting pressure on ventilation systems

The backlog of overweight finishing pigs due to Covid-19 interrupting slaughter lines, is putting pressure on ventilation systems and turned the heat up on pig farmers, an environmental specialist at ARM has warned.

The extra liveweight has raised piggery temperatures enough to cause fans on some units to operate at levels not normally seen until late spring or summer, which could be catching out systems that have not been maintained properly, Tim Miller of ARM Buildings pointed out.

Mr Miller explained that pigs nearing slaughter at 110 kg liveweight produce about 200W of heat each. However, when held over for a week or so, as has happened recently, they can put on as much as an extra 10 kg each.

“This will produce up to 9kW of extra heat which means piggeries will exceed set temperature even quicker, causing fans to work flat out for extended periods of time,” said Mr Miller.

“In some piggeries individual fans can remain idle for months if not linked to a sequencing system, such as that offered by Dicam. If they don’t work when needed there can be serious problems.”

When a house is at maximum stocking density, full ventilation capacity is needed, which is where, he said, routine servicing pays dividends. pointing out that, according to Defra figures average UK liveweight of finished pigs leaving farms in January jumped from 115.0 kg to 120.9 kg.

“I have been on farms where pigs have been as heavy as 130 kg before farmers could send them to slaughter,” he said.

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