Interpretive Summary: Electronically controlled cooling pads can improve litter growth performance and indirect measures of milk production in heat-stressed lactating sows
By: Jay S. Johnson, Taylor L. Jansen, Michaiah Galvin, Tyler C. Field, Jason R. Graham, Robert M. Stwalley, and Allan P. Schinckel
Lactating sows are heat stress sensitive due to greater feed intake and metabolic heat production to support milk production. Therefore, heat-stressed lactating sows reduce their feed intake and undergo physiological changes that prioritize survival over productivity which reduces milk production. Reduced milk production has negative downstream effects on the litter and can decrease litter growth performance and health status. The negative effects of heat stress on lactating sows may be ameliorated by using electronically controlled cooling pads. Electronically controlled cooling pads improve the ability of lactating sows to maintain a normal body temperature under heat stress conditions. However, it is unknown whether these pads can improve lactating sow feed intake, milk production, and subsequently litter performance under heat stress conditions. It was determined that electronically controlled cooling pads were effective in increasing piglet body weight gain and weaning weight and increasing indirect measures of sow milk production independent of greater sow feed intake. In addition, the electronically controlled cooling pads allowed sows to maintain a normal body temperature under heat stress conditions. These data suggest that electronically controlled cooling pads can be an effective technology to improve lactating sow and litter performance under heat stress conditions.
Read the full article on the Journal of Animal Science.