Ways To Help Them Keep Them Cool

Ways To Help Them Keep Them Cool

Do you know why it’s so important to keep pigs cool in the heat of summer? They don’t sweat. Unlike us or dogs, horses, cows and other animals that sweat, the pig does not. While pigs do have a few sweat glands it is not enough for them to maintain a solid body temperature in the heat of summer. When it’s hot out, sweating is what keeps us cool. Because pigs do not sweat they can easily overheat, even have a heat stroke and die.

Provide Shade

Outside pigs should always have plenty of shade. The shade can be in forms of plants, a lean to, a tarp, umbrella or a type of shade sail. Any of these will work. Make sure that they have somewhere to go to get out of the sun. It doesn’t have to be fancy…it needs to be functional and provide protection from the sun. Protection from the sun is so important for pigs, as the sun can be so harsh in the summertime.

Shade provided with trees, a tarp and shade sail.
Shade provided by trees, tarp and shade sail.

Did you know that in the shade, it will feel 10-15 degrees cooler, but the temperature is the exact same as temperature in full sunlight. The shade feels cooler because you are avoiding solar radiation. In reality, the temperature in the sun is the same as the temperature in the shade. That being said, solar radiation can make a huge difference in how you might feel about the temperature. When in the shade, your skin is not being “heated” by the sun’s rays, so your skin and your body feel a more comfortable temperature. When you are outside and not under shade of some kind, solar radiation warms the skin and makes your body’s natural ways of cooling down less effective at cooling you down.

Mud Hole / Pool

Make sure that your pig has access to either a pool or mud hole.

These too should be in the shade not sitting directly in the sun. I personally like the mud hole as it provides a couple of benefits for our pigs. The mud helps to keep the pig cool. It’s soft and soothing on the pig’s skin during the heat of the day. The other benefits are that it works as a sunblock and protects against bugs.

Mud holes may need to be filled up a couple of times a day, especially during the hottest part of summer.

Not able to make a mud hole for your pig because you have sand or sand like dirt? You can still make a make-shift wallow for them. All you need is a kiddie pool, some dirt (clay if it’s available) and of course water. Find the place that you want the pool to go. Dig out a few inches of the dirt where the pool will go. Put the pool in and fill with the dirt that you dug out and fill with water. It will take several times before the water stays in the pool, other than being soaked up by the dirt. I have 3 of the here and the pigs love them. 

Porky cooling off in his mud pool.

Each of the pens here include a mud pool, piggy pool and at least two water bowls. Because I’m not always here on some of those hot days I want to make sure that the pigs always have access to a water source. Besides a mud hole, kiddie pools are also available to the pigs here. Kiddie pools work just fine.

For the new pig parent it can be a challenge to get your pig into the pool for the first time. I cut out an opening with a pair of scissors so that the pig can easily get in and out. The pool doesn’t need to be filled to the top. Just a couple of inches of water is more than enough for the pig to cool itself off and will make cleaning a bit easier on you. A pool full of water is very difficult to dump. And with young pigs you may need to clean it on a daily basis as they are prone to go potty in the pool. 

Pepper Pig’s pool is cut down so she can easily get in and out.

Other ways to help keep your pig cool on those hot summer days. 

On those really hot and humid days we hose down the ground (NOT the pig) where the pigs live so at least the ground is cool. A misting system works well too, though my pigs were not fond of the mist they did enjoy the cool wet ground.

 

Gracie loves rolling around in the moist dirt.
Gracie loves rolling around in the wet dirt on hot days.

A fan running on low to keep air circulating will help. By blowing air around, the fan makes it easier for the air to evaporate sweat from your skin, which is how you eliminate body heat. The more evaporation, the cooler you or your pig feels.

Most pigs are not fond of being hosed down, though there are 2 here that will let me do it from time to time. If squirting your pig with the hose please watch where you are pointing the hose. The belly area is what we want to cool them down NOT their back. Watch not to get it in their face or ears. Water in the ears will give them a head tilt.

Rudy being hosed down.
Rudy getting hosed down.

Remember that the water coming out of your hose can be hot to begin with so give it time to cool down before spraying your pig or filling up pools or water bowls. If you have pigs like mine they will wake up from sleeping to get a drink from a freshly filled bowl or pool or jump in once it’s been freshened.

Realize that on the really hot days they won’t feel like doing much…so let sleeping pigs lie.

Andrew taking a nap in the shade.

If you think that your pig might be over heating (breathing heavy) you need to cool him down. Spraying him with hose is not what you want to do. The best way to cool down an over heated pig is with a cool/tepid towel or water on his belly and behind the ears if he will let you. I have had two pigs that have needed cooling down. They would not let me put a towel on them, but slowly run the hose on their belly and thus slowly cooling them down and wetting down the ground around them at the same time.

Encourage them to drink WATER. Do not let them run out of water during the day. Just like us, pigs need to stay hydrated. …only adding some Gatorade or Pedialyte as a 50/50 mixture if necessary.  You might want to offer goodies like watermelon, Popsicle’s, frozen grapes and ice cubes in water as summer time treats. Note these are not meant to cool off a pig that is over heating…but as a treat that they will certainly enjoy.

For those that have house pigs they should go out early morning and
later in the evening when temps are at their coolest and there is more
shade. They are used to the A/C and being out in the heat for too long
can cause them to over heat.

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