Indoor farrowing: Body condition in sows

It is important to minimise loss of sow condition in the farrowing house. Use this information to meet temperature requirements that encourage good voluntary feed intake (VFI).

Why is temperature so important?

The sow’s requirement for nutrients increases daily throughout lactation as the demand for milk from the piglets also increases.

Her VFI must increase so she doesn't use her own reserves, which can result in a loss of body condition.

However, VFI declines as the room temperature rises above 16ºC at a rate of 170 g/day for every 1ºC rise in temperature.

Temperature requirements of pigs at different stages

Category Age (days) Temperature requirement (°C)
Piglet 1–3 28–32
Piglet 4–7 25–27
Piglet 8–14 23–26
Piglet 15–21 21–24
Piglet 22–28 20–22
Sow 16–20

How to manage the sow’s environment

  • Provide a covered creep so the farrowing room can be maintained at 18–20ºC
  • Control the temperature of the creep heat source by thermostat, and programme a temperature curve to reduce over time
  • Check heat mats regularly to ensure they are operating correctly
  • Provide supplementary cooling, where possible, during hot periods
  • Ensure sows always have fresh, clean water – the flow rate should be 2 l/minute for a nipple or bite drinker

Sows should lose no more than 0.5 in body condition score (BCS) throughout lactation, in order to increase the chances of her rebreeding within six days post-weaning.

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