Climatic conditions in sow barns in Northern Germany
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With regard to the growing concerns on global climate change, this study aimed at describing basic climatic conditions in sow barns. On 10 piglet producing farms, temperature and relative humidity were measured in the farrowing, servicing and waiting compartments from July 2011 to August 2012. Based on that, the temperature-humidity-index (THI) was calculated. High temperatures occurred on all farms and in all compartments between May and August. Temperatures above 22 degrees C, which according to different literature sources have negative effects on sows, were recorded on 245 of 428 days in the farrowing units. The mean relative humidity was 65% in the farrowing units and 71% in the waiting compartments. As expected, mean temperatures in the farrowing units were higher than in the servicing and waiting units (P < 0.05). The average temperatures in all three compartments were influenced by the outdoor temperature in a similar pattern. Up to an outdoor temperature of 10.5 to 12.5 degrees C the indoor temperatures remained constant. Beyond these thresholds, indoor temperatures increased as the outdoor temperatures rose. The high number of days with heat stress indicates, that sows in Northern Germany are already exposed to heat stress under present conditions. Appropriate building and management arrangements should be undertaken in order to reduce the number of heat stress days in the barns, which will positively effects to health, productivity and economy.