Thoughts On Winter Ventilation

Over the years, one issue that has remained a challenge is winter ventilation. Traditional thought has led most managers to attempt to button up the barn tight and keep it as warm as possible. That strategy is not entirely incorrect. You want your barns to be as airtight as they can be so that your ventilation systems are placing the cold air where you want it and not in places where you don’t want it, such as on top of freshly weaned pigs. At the same, it’s important to remember that today’s pigs produce quite a bit of heat as they eat and grow, and actually handle being a little cool much better than they handle being hot.

The following are points that are always on my mind when I step into a barn during the winter:

  1. Air from inlets should hit me in the forehead at least 15 feet away from the inlets. If not, some inlets may need to be closed, and some fans may need to be turned off OR find the holes in the barn.
  2. Try not to go below 45% minimum ventilation, and most fans today fail quicker when forced to work below their minimum speeds. You also run the risk of it being too stuffy overnight when all the pigs are sleeping and the rest of the fans are not running.
  3. Heater offsets should be programmed at 2F.
  4. Is there condensation buildup? If so, do the following:
    a. Adjust room temperature, and or increase minimum ventilation.
    b. Check inlets to insure that they are opening/closing and insulated properly.
    c. Confirm that the building sealed properly to ensure proper air movement.
  5. Keep fans cleared from snow drifts.

Winter Prep Checklist and Ventilation Tips


  • Are there any foundation cracks?
  • Heater maintenance
    ► Pilot working?
    ► Leaks in line/line in good shape?
    ► Blow the dust out prior to needing them
    ► Heater offsets set at 2F
  • Check waterers for any repairs
  • Make sure that generator is running properly
    ► Testing frequently (1x a week or 1x a month)
    ► Fueled up and ready to go?
  • Emergency Thermostats and Emergency Systems
    ► Are they working?
    ► Are they set properly for colder weather and the size of the pigs?
  • Rodent Control
    ► Rat/mouse bait
    ► Check bird proofing
  • Have you pumped pits?
    ► Don’t wait to do this when you’ve got small pigs in and cannot offer proper ventilation without freezing them

Check ventilation

  • Is the building air-tight?
    ► Check for cracks in ceiling panels, doors that don’t seal properly, places where excess air could be getting in and reducing efficacy of your ventilation management
  • Soffits
    ► Clean?
    ► Adequate airflow into the attic?
    ► North or West soffits are closed to prevent snow buildup in the attic?
  • Curtains
    ► Are holes present?
    ► Opening and closing properly?
    ► Bubble wrap in place?
  • Inlets
    ► Clean
    ► Fix broken ropes/wires/cables
    ► Tighten strings
    ► Check to make sure all calibrated correctly
  • Fans
    ► Clean
    ► Winter socks or fan covers?
    ► Tighten fan belts
  • Check Pit Fans
    ► Running properly?
    ► Covered by manure?