How to achieve proper air quality in the swine barn

As the swine industry continues to grow, gases such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, and odors continue to have negative impacts on air quality, animal health and the environment.

Optimum barn conditions

Maintaining optimal barn conditions is therefore crucial for pig growth, productivity and welfare. Proper ventilation provides fresh air, reduces humidity, reduces dust levels, prevents ammonia and hydrogen sulfide build-up, increases overall feed intake and reduces pig respiratory problems and mortality.

What is ventilation?

Ventilation is defined as a process that dilutes indoor air by adding fresh outdoor air. It brings in oxygen, displacing harmful dusts, gases, unwanted odors, airborne organisms and moisture from the pigs. The ventilation system affects air temperature, moisture content, surface moisture concentration, air temperature uniformity, air velocity over animals, and dust and gases in the air.

Indoor air quality characteristics

The right room temperature is essential for the health, welfare and performance of the pigs. This is especially true for pigs, which are more sensitive to cool temperatures. Relative humidity, which compares the relative humidity content of the air to the potential moisture absorption of the air at the same temperature, is also crucial during the heating season.

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Ventilation systems in the pigsty

2 types of ventilation systems are suitable for pig houses: mechanical and natural. A mechanical ventilation system forces air through the building with fans that use negative, positive, or neutral pressure.

A negative pressure system forces outside air into the stall via intakes and forces air out through fans. An overpressure system forces outside air into the stable via fans. A neutral pressure system uses fans to force outside air into the stall through a duct. Exhaust fans pull stale air out of the barn.

Mechanical ventilation systems are suitable for farrowing and rearing pigs to control the air temperature in winter and summer. On the other hand, natural ventilation relies on animal heat to warm the building and the dry outdoor environment to remove moisture from the coop. This system is suitable for older pigs that retain their own body heat and can withstand colder temperatures.

The ideal location for a natural ventilation system would be a raised floor with no obstructions to disturb the flow of air around or through the barn.

Properties of a suitable ventilation system

A well-controlled ventilation system maintains the right temperature and humidity levels, limiting moisture accumulation in winter and limiting heat rise in summer. Fan speeds must be adjusted to the air flow to compensate for the heat and humidity generated in the barn.

As pigs grow, they produce more heat and moisture; Therefore, the aeration rate of the plant must be increased during the growing season. In addition, the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity influences the ventilation requirement and the staging of the fans.

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Inlets are commonly used in negative pressure barns. Location, size, stall width, cold and hot weather air intake and air intake through the stall ceiling versus the side walls are important characteristics for proper ventilation. In addition, the total inlet area, the distance between the inlets and the air speed affect the static pressure, air speed and the appropriate air mixture, preventing drafts and dead air pockets in the stable.

Final remarks

Pig producers need to consider various parameters such as outside temperature and humidity to make decisions about ventilation systems. However, technological advances lead to more complex and demanding ventilation management in pig houses. Therefore, further research can evaluate ventilation problems and their possible causes to improve agricultural ventilation systems.

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