Preparing hog barns for winter months

Producers can gain cost savings by winterizing curtain-sided pig barns.

Pork producers with curtain-sided mechanically ventilated swine barns should spend time winterizing their facilities for the upcoming colder temperatures. Lower temperatures and snowfall in Michigan require producers to adjust the barn’s ventilation system and increase supplemental heating during the winter months. One way to reduce the cost of maintaining the proper animal environment in the facility during the winter months is to reduce the amount of heat that is lost through the building’s sidewalls.

Insulating the curtain side walls during the winter months of mechanically ventilated grow/finish and wean/finish barns will help reduce drafts and heat loss, increase animal comfort and reduce operating costs. This is often done by sandwiching materials such as bubble wrap, plastic wrap or foil liner between the curtain and the bird screen. This extra liner will provide an additional layer of insulation and eliminate leaks where there are gaps or the curtain is in need of repair. It is important to leave a 10 to 12 inch opening at the top of liner during installation. This gap will provide a relief area in the case of an emergency ventilation situation. Should there be a power failure or other emergency and the curtains automatically drop the gap will allow heat and gases to be released from the barn until someone responds to the emergency.

Michigan State University Extension encourages pork producers to make providing an adequate environment for pigs in finishing barns, while reducing energy needs, a priority this winter.

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