Surface Temperature Distribution of Commercial Electrical Heat Mats for Farrowing Creep Heating
Four commercial electrical mats for localized heating in farrowing creep area were evaluated with infrared (IR) thermal imaging regarding uniformity of the surface temperature distribution and amount of mat area with acceptable temperatures (85 to 105°F). Large variations in these parameters were found among the mats tested. Certain mat configurations or settings are inadequate as the heat source for neonatal piglets. In particular, use of mats without controller (i.e., full power output) produces excessively hot surfaces (>120°F) and thus should be avoided. Mat manufacturers should provide specifications on the operational performance of the mat both for product quality control and for selection and operation of the mat. Swine producers are advised to perform on-farm check or calibration of the actual surface temperature against the controller settings after mats have been installed in farrowing crates.