Surface Temperature of Creep Heat Mat as Affected by Piglet Use
In a previous study (3), the temperature (Tmat) distribution of commercial creep heat mats had been examined under static laboratory conditions. This follow-up study evaluated Tmat of a selected heat mat as influenced by the activities of piglets in experimental farrowing crates. The heat mat was operated either with regulated power input by embedded temperature sensors or with constant power input. Embedded temperature sensors were found to facilitate the controllability of Tmat, and thus were recommended. When piglets rested on sensor-regulated heat mat, Tmat rose in the occupied region and declined in the unoccupied region, with temperature differences between the two regions ranging from 7 to 12°C (13 to 22°F). The temperature feedback control generally allowed for the maintenance of thermal comfort of piglets. In comparison, mats without temperature feedback control could become undesirably warm (>43°C; 109°F) for the piglets.