April 20, 2024

New technology helps hogs stay cool

Technology leads to improved animal health

Robert M. Stwalley III, clinical associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University, shows a cooling pad designed to keep hogs cool. IHT Group of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has signed an exclusive license and will manufacture and sell the pads in North America beginning in spring 2024.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A patented cooling pad technology for hogs will be available next spring.

The pads are 2-by-4-foot aluminum tread plates on top of copper pipes that circulate water. Sensors in the pads determine if the hog is too hot and circulate new water to keep the pad cool.

The benefits of keeping sows cooler in the summer include improved feed intake, milk output and piglet wean weight.

The technology was designed by Allan Schinckel, a professor in Purdue’s Department of Animal Sciences, and Robert M. Stwalley III, associate clinical professor in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

IHT Group, a division of Decisive Dividend Corporation, will manufacture and sell the product.

“Under heat-stress conditions, lactating sows reduce their feed intake and milk output to attempt to reduce their metabolic heat production,” said Francisco Cabezon, research president at Pipestone Research.

“In consequence, their piglet growth and subsequent reproductive performance is negatively affected.

“In boars, some negative impacts of heat stress are decreased sperm motility and concentration and an increase in sperm abnormalities.”

Schinckel said the initial research showed the cooling pads make sows more comfortable.

“We saw a decrease in their overall respiration rates, slightly lower internal temperatures and lower daily maximum temperatures,” Schinckel said.

“The sows also produced more heat, which corresponded to an increase in their feed intake and milk production. This improves animal welfare and well-being.

“Piglets who were on the cooling pads had a 26% increase in weaning weight and 7.2% increase in feed intake.”

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor