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General Concepts of swine comfort and Susceptibility to Hypothermia

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Swine Comfort

At birth, piglets are subjected to a wide range of environmental temperatures. In the sow’s uterus, they are at a stable temperature between 38 and 40 ºC, but when they are born, they are exposed to the ambient temperature of maternity facilities, which sits between 18 and 20º C, in accordance with the heat comfort zone of sows (Castro Junior & Silva, 2021).

Thus, newborn piglets are more susceptible to hypothermia, as they are inefficient at regulating body temperature due to their still immature thermoregulatory system (Andersen et al., 2016). Also, piglets innately seek proximity to the sows’ teats to suckle and stay warm, which renders them more vulnerable to being crushed (Pedersen et al., 2016).

In order to mitigate the effect of this sudden temperature change and reduce the risk of having the piglets crushed, heated floors or shelters with a heat source are used to keep the animals warm and away from the sow when they are not suckling. Through those adaptations to the maternity facilities, it is possible to provide the piglets with a microclimate that is compatible with their comfort temperature in the first days of life, between 30 and 32º C (Castro Junior & Silva, 2021), and a safe place away from the movements of the sows.