Hot and bothered

Country Smallholding|June 2020

Hot and bothered
As the weather continues to be unpredictable, Liz Shankland warns pig-keepers to prepare well for the next heatwave
Liz Shankland

You may be sitting by the window right now, listening to the rain hammering down on your waterlogged fields — while just a few weeks ago you were complaining about the spring heatwave parching your soil.

The only thing we know for sure about our weather is that it can be erratic, changing when we least expect it. With that in mind, it pays to get your smallholding ready for whatever the climate decides to throw at you.

Anyone who has kept pigs through a prolonged sunny spell will know the challenges faced by the species during uncomfortably hot weather. As vet Max Wood notes on page 10, pigs can’t thermoregulate in the same way as other mammals so, as pig-keepers, we need to ensure that there are measures in place to help them cool down effectively and stay safe.

PIG PEN PLANNING

If you have yet to get your first pigs, considering how they will fare in extreme temperatures — both hot and cold — before siting your pig pens is really important. Ideally choose a site that is sheltered, with trees to provide shade in the summer when it’s too warm for them to be in their arks. If the site is pretty bare, think of ways in which you can create a strong framework that can be covered to provide shade, but remember that even small pigs can be incredibly strong when rubbing against posts, so make sure that it’s sturdy enough to withstand being used as a backscratcher.

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June 2020