With the arrival of the fluctuating, high/low temps of late spring and early summer, we start receiving frantic messages about sick hogs that are down, seemingly lifeless, heavily panting, and showing no interest in food. These are the classic signs of heat stress. Early summer and late fall seasons typically cause more problems for hogs than prolonged summer heatwaves as the hogs have no opportunity to adapt to increases in temperature.
Hogs easily become overheated because the few sweat glands they have are of no use in cooling their bodies. Like dogs, hogs cool themselves by panting. They also instinctively seek shade and a cool wallow when temperatures rise above 75 degrees.
Signs of Heat Stress
Muscle trembling and/or weakness and staggering.
Increased Respiration Rate – Heavy, Rapid Panting
Body temperature above the normal 101-103֯ range.
How to Cool Down an Overheated Hog
If a pig is overheated,
Get them into the shade.
Cool their feet first by providing them with some water to walk in or by hosing their feet.
Their bodies can be sprinkled or sponged with tepid water. NOTE: It is not advisable to hose down a hot pig with cold water as this can cause shock. Spraying with a fine mist, however, is fine.
Once their bodies are wet, a fan can provide evaporative cooling.
Make sure they have water available. IMPORTANT: If a hog shows signs of heat stress or dehydration, offer water gradually, in small amounts. Never let an overheated or dehydrated hog gorge themselves on water.
How We Help Our Hogs Stay Cool and Healthy
There are several things we do for our hogs in order to help them stay cool and healthy during hot weather.
Provide a wallow area and/or a shallow pool or trough and replenish it with cool water at least twice a day. This is key to keeping hogs cool in hot weather.
Keep plenty of cool, drinking water on hand to ensure that the hogs stay well hydrated. Hogs that avoid drinking hot water on warm days may become dehydrated. This can lead to a condition known as salt poisoning.
Feed in the early morning and/or late evening. We avoid feeding during the warmest part of the day.
American Guinea hogs are hardy and resilient. With just a little bit of effort, their caretakers can ensure they are kept comfortable and healthy when high temperatures arrive.