Effects of cooled floor pads combined with chilled drinking water on behavior and performance of lactating sows under heat stress

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This study was conducted to evaluate whether cooled floor pads combined with chilled drinking water could alleviate negative impacts of heat stress on lactating sows. Thirty sows (Landrace × Yorkshire, Parity = 1 to 6) were housed in individual farrowing stalls in two rooms with temperatures being controlled at 29.4°C (0700-1900 hours) and 23.9°C (1900-0700 hours). Sows in one room (Cool), but not in the other room (Control) were provided cooled floor pads (21-22°C) and chilled drinking water (13-15°C). Behavior of sows (15 sows/treatment) was video recorded during farrowing, and days 1, 3, 7, 14, and 21 after farrowing. Videos were viewed continuously to register the birth time of each piglet, from which total farrowing duration and birth intervals were calculated. The number of drinking bouts and the duration of each drinking bout were registered for each sow through viewing videos continuously for 2 h (1530-1730 hours) each video-recording day. Postures (lying laterally, lying ventrally, sitting, and standing) were recorded by scanning video recordings at 5-min intervals for 24 h each video-recording day, and time budget for each posture was calculated. Rectal temperature and respiration rate were measured for all sows the day before and after farrowing, and then once weekly. Sow and litter performance was recorded. Data were analyzed using the Glimmix procedure of SAS. The cooling treatment did not affect sow behavior or litter performance. Sows in the Cool room had lower rectal temperature (P = 0.03) and lower respiration rate (P < 0.001), consumed more feed (P = 0.03), tended to have reduced weight loss (P = 0.07), and backfat loss (P = 0.07) during lactation than sows in the Control room. As lactation progressed, sows increased drinking frequency (P < 0.001) and time spent lying ventrally (P < 0.0001), standing (P < 0.001), and sitting (P < 0.0001), and decreased time spent lying laterally (P < 0.0001) in both Cool and Control rooms. While cooled floor pads combined with chilled drinking water did not affect sow behavior, they did alleviate heat stress partially, as indicated by decreased rectal temperature, respiration rate, weight, and backfat loss, and increased feed intake in lactating sows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskab066
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors appreciate M. Smith, K. T. Sharpe, K. Janni, B. Hetchler, B. Lozinski, and students and staff of the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center for assisting in conducting the animal trials and data collection from video-recordings. This work was partially supported by The Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative—Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (Project #: LCCMR-2016-07e).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • behavior
  • floor cooling
  • heat stress
  • lactating sows


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