Characterizing swine finishing facility environment and ventilation management
With growing world population, the pork industry must strive for growth, efficiency, sustainability, and profitability alongside addressing consumer demands. Most pork products come from animals raised in specialized indoor facilities with automated feed, water, and ventilation systems. Air exchange is achieved through electrically powered fans and is critical for animal performance, health, and animal welfare. Ventilation requirements change rapidly throughout the growth cycle and are highly dependent on outdoor conditions, so proper management is crucial. Producers make key decisions on design and operation of their ventilation systems supported with little evidence-based research. Minimum ventilation fan operation is a debate within the industry. Use of sidewall versus pit fans to achieve air exchange requirements in cold weather ventilation was tested. In cold weather ventilation, the question of whether those fans should remain operational or be shut off was also analyzed. Indoor and outdoor measurements were recorded to understand impacts on thermal environment, air quality, air movement, and utility usage. Results showed no statistical evidence of impact by treatment on room temperature or relative humidity. Room averaged ammonia concentrations were consistent, but spatial differences were prevalent and of concern in sidewall fan treatments. Ventilation effectiveness was calculated with strongly varied results. Electrical usage was impacted in both ventilation seasons and could provide producers an economic opportunity. Pig performance was significantly different amongst treatment rooms but may not be linked entirely to ventilation treatments.