As winter settles in over the Midwest, there are things to consider when transporting pigs safely and humanely. Recent research findings conclude that the number of non-ambulatory pigs increases and is highest in the late fall and winter months. With the colder temperatures, there are extra steps producers and truckers must consider before shipping pigs to market.
For starters, the bedding in the trailers must be increased. Extra bedding helps to prevent pigs from coming in direct contact with the cold metal surface of the trailer. The added bedding will help control added moisture and give the pigs better footing. The floor should be covered before any pigs are loaded on the trailer so that no pigs are ever in direct contact with the trailer’s floor. The volume of bedding may need to be increased as the distance of transportation increases.
Side slats must be closed as the temperature drops. Blocking the air will help keep the cold air out of the trailer and protect the pigs from windchill. It is important to note that even in below-zero conditions, the trailer must always be ventilated to allow proper air circulation. Side slats are vital in protecting the pigs from crosswinds that may result in frostbite.
Reducing stocking density in the winter months is a must. While it may seem like loading more pigs will create more heat in the trailer and allow the pigs to stay warmer, it is vital to load fewer pigs in the winter. Loading fewer pigs will enable them to avoid overcrowding, keep them off the cold sides of the metal trailer, and stay warmer on the bedding.
Another important thing to consider is group size. It is better to take smaller groups when moving pigs from the pens to the trailer. Moisture can build up at entryways from the cold air mixing with warm air, causing areas that may be slick for pigs. It may be a good idea to apply barn lime or other drying substance to help the hogs gain the footing necessary to prevent them from slipping when encountering these areas of concern.
As the cold weather arrives, consider these points when it’s time to ship your pigs to market. Always keep the animal’s well-being at the top of your list. Make time to take extra precautions when shipping your pigs in cold weather. If you save one pig, the extra time is worth it!