let's talk farm animals

Sweat like a Pig? Not likely!

By Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

It’s a hot, sunny summer day, and pigs are all out wallowing in the mud, happy as could be.  Or are they? 

Pigs, when housed outdoors, will use mud to keep cool if necessary.  They lack sweat glands (making it impossible to “sweat like a pig”), so the only way they can cool themselves is by getting moisture on their skin which can than evaporate and create a cooling effect.  Mud would work for this cooling effect, as does water.

Although pigs are normally associated with messes (“your room is a pig sty” probably being the most common example), they actually like clean environments to live in.  Pigs are quite comfortable living in a clean, dry barn with adequate supplies of food and water.

There are a variety of ways to keep pig barns cool during the summer, so the pigs are not too hot.  Large ventilation fans can commonly be found on barns to replace hot, stale air from inside the barn with cool, fresh air from outside.  Other barns have curtains or panels on the wall which can be opened to allow for natural air flow.  Some barns, to allow for evaporative cooling, have sprinkler systems installed.  When it is hot, the sprinklers will spray a fine mist of cool water over the pigs.

So, although it always looks nice and peaceful on television and in books, pigs are not comfortable in a mud hole.  Give them a clean, dry barn with cooling systems and a steady supply of food and water instead to keep them content. 

And, the next time someone tells you that you are sweating like a pig, or that your room is a pig sty, you will know the truth behind the phrases!


Posted by FFC on March 1st, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,Housing,Pigs,Pork,Urban Myths,Weather
Tags :: , , ,
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Sweat like a Pig? Not likely!”

  1. Gail Smith
    July 6th, 2011

    Nice try.

    Pigs are not comfortable in a mud hole…..then you really don’t know pigs in my opinion. Yes , there is a variety of ways to keep pigs cool however the description you gave of pigs in their “well ventilated ” barn is far from perfect. Those same barns you describe so beautifully also come equipped with farrowing crates that subject these animals to a cruelity that makes me embarrassed to be human.
    I think you need to visit a free range pig farm to see how pigs like to be treated. One where they can dig , root, farrow in a nest and nurse their young until they decide not to.
    Back to the mud hole that you say they are not comfortable in…..if we don’t give them a mud hole….they will make one themselves not matter how deep they have to dig. Sounds odd for a creature that is , according to you, not comfortable in a mud hole.
    Before you write back that they are chosing this because no other cooling method is available….don’t bother…they get to chose here and they will always spend some of their day in the mud.

Leave a Reply

Type your comment in the box below: