Looking after pigs in autumn and winter

[fa icon="calendar'] May 8, 2015, 1:37:00 PM / by SunPork Fresh Foods

During autumn and winter, the cooler weather does have some influence on pigs, particularly in terms of their appetite.

For farmers, this means they need to account for the evolutionary instincts pigs possess. These instincts can lead to a shift in the balance of metabolic hormones in pigs during the colder months, as their bodies promote intake and an increase in fat deposition (aka they're energy reserves). While this doesn't occur with all pigs, it still occurs enough for farmers to be prepared to make some possible dietary adjustments, especially as there can be a rise in backfat levels.



Substantial appetites

To deal with the cooler climate, pigs eat more and their appetite peaks. For pig farmers, this increased appetite brings with it the potential for each pig to seriously grow.

For weaner pigs, they're vulnerable to potential chilling brought on by the drop in temperature. Because of this, environmental control is important to ensure weaners are comfortable in autumn and winter. Steps include temperature control, reducing or outright avoiding draughts while still maintaining adequate ventilation, and keeping the pigs dry as much as possible. Farmers also often provide straw for weaners as this allows them to regulate their own microclimate and stay warmer.

As the ground can be dryer during autumn, farmers may also need to look at changing what is and how much is fed to their pigs. However, meat, meat products or anything that has been in contact with meat cannot be fed to pigs - this type of food is referred to as swill and it's illegal to feed to pigs.


Protection from predators

Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration as winter arrives is the issue of a specific predator: the fox. Breeding season for foxes occur around this time (late autumn to early winter) and fox pups whelp (are born) mid-winter. Checking fences to ensure they're still properly intact and free of any gaps where foxes and feral pigs could get in is an important first step.


To learn more about how pigs are taken care of during the cooler months, check out Australian Pork Limited's Pigs N' Mud Newsletter.


Topics: Insider, Industry News