Producers should prepare barns for winter weather conditions

Three easy steps can help prepare your facility for winter without costing much money.

Pork producers with mechanically ventilated barns should spend time preparing their facilities for cooler weather this fall in preparation for the winter season. Lower temperatures and snowfall in Michigan require producers to make adjustments in their ventilation during the winter months so that the proper environment provided. An adequate environment for pigs is essential for growth and production.

The first step is to make sure that the facility is reasonably air tight. Although we know that a barn can never be completely air tight, closing and repairing any of the holes and cracks that have developed in the recent months is a must. This will aid in maintaining static pressure in your barns and allow your minimal ventilation setting to work correctly. A common practice is to seal the louvers on the large fans used for summer air flow, this can be done with insulated panels or heavy plastic sheets. Repairing any holes or cracks will also help with rodent control, which is a larger issue in the winter months.

Secondly, adjust room and barn inlets for the winter weather. This includes hallway and attic inlet systems, which will allow fresh air to be drawn into the barn. To insure proper air flow attic inlet opening should be greater in space then the ceiling inlets.

Finally, check your settings on your ventilation system. During the winter months ventilation should be running on minimal levels. It is important that during the transition months you do not set your controls so that the second stage fans and heaters run at the same time. A common practice is to offset your heaters and second stage fans by two degrees F, which will help eliminate spikes in temperature and wasted energy.

In preparation for the winter months and to ensure that the ventilation system is properly working, producers should spend time cleaning and repairing fans, shutters and louvers. Caked and dirty shutters can decrease air flow, which has a negative effect on pig growth. All heaters should be maintained and tested prior to full time use, eliminating low temperature spikes in your barn. Using these easy steps, pork producers will be able to better prepare their swine facility for the winter months and allow for easier transitions to cold temperatures.

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