During the winter months, in areas with severe winters, adult pigs develop a heavy coat to afford them protection from the adverse temperatures. Despite their wiry hair, pigs still require a dry, draft-free shelter to provide protection from the inclement weather. Baby pigs show significant vulnerability to cold temperatures and require a reliable 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit to remain healthy. Sows prefer a cooler temperature of around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. The act of keeping the sow cool and the piglets warm often becomes a juggling act.
Things You'll Need
- Cornstalks or small grain straw
- Shovel or pitchfork
- Hover or farrowing crate
- Heat lamp
Place adequate bedding into the pig shelter to allow the pig to burrow into the substance for warmth. Use cornstalks or small grain straw to line the pen.
Clean the bedding daily to remove any wet spots that may cause the pig to become chilled. Sift deep into the bedding using a shovel to remove excessively wet bedding so the pig does not come into contact with it when burrowing for warmth.
Place a boxlike structure, known as a hover or farrowing crate, in the shelter to provide added warmth for piglets. The sow will stay out of the box but the piglets can seek warmth inside. Add bedding inside the structure for the piglets to burrow into.
Suspend a heat lamp securely over the hover or farrowing crate. Make sure the heat lamp does not touch the structure or bedding. Suspend the light high enough that the sow cannot accidentally touch the lamp and the piglets will not come into contact with it.
Tips & Warnings
- A pig that weighs over 50 pounds prefers a temperature of 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A pig that weighs over 215 pounds tolerates a temperature of 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Shredded newspaper makes an acceptable bedding material but can become weighted down and difficult to remove if excessively wet.
- A chilled pig can become sick.
- Sawdust makes an acceptable bedding material for adult pigs but can cause the naval cord of newborn piglets to bleed.
- Penn State College of Agricultural Science; 4-H Breeding Swine Project Reference Guide; Robert E. Mikesell, et al.; 1998
- University of Missouri Extension; Care of Pigs From Farrowing to Weaning; John C. Rea; October 1993
- Oregon State University Extension; Caring For New Feeder Pigs; G. Pirelli; October 2003
- Iowa State University; Bedding Management; Peter J. Lammers, et al.
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension; Raising Pigs At Home; Gail McWilliam, et al.; November 2004
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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