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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 OFAC on March 1st, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,Housing,Pigs,Pork,Urban Myths,Weather
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