Heat Stress: How much does it drain your pigs and your budget?

Ag Barrier Market Hogs

The financial losses for US pig farmers incurred by heat stress in livestock are devastating and affect the entire pork industry. According to livestock consultant Steven Pollmann, PhD, heat stress costs the pig industry an estimated $900 million per year.

Many animals, including pigs, lack the ability to sweat and are extremely vulnerable to high temperatures. When temperatures in barns begin to climb above 70° F (21° C), and stay at 80° F (27° C) or above for several days, pigs can experience negative health effects including weight loss from lower feed intake in grow-finish pigs, impaired sow productivity and other reductions in performance.

“Heat stress impacts every farm, especially in the summer months,” says Pollmann. “Up to 95% of herds in the North American market are impacted by high temperatures, making it more devastating to the industry than disease. In order to minimize losses and protect their profits, farmers require solutions that minimize the impact of high temperatures.”

Perry Faulk Sr., Executive Director at Innovative Insulation, elaborates on the heat problem that pig farmers face, especially in summer.

“The architecture of the modern hog house contributes to the extremely high daytime temperatures that farmers witness,” Faulk says. “Hog houses are most often pole barns wrapped in sheet metal. Because sheet metal is a conductor of the sun’s radiant heat, the sheet metal surrounding barns can reach temperatures in excess of 150 degrees in the sun. This heat can reach the attic space and defeat traditional insulation above the drop ceiling, making livestock vulnerable to high temperatures. Traditional materials like fiberglass and foam insulation are often not enough to combat the radiant heat from the sun in metal buildings.”

Faulk argues that Ag Barrier, an agricultural radiant barrier designed to block radiant heat, is an economical solution for farmers that offers superior cooling.

“In order to solve the problem of heat stress, farmers need to be able to block radiant heat from entering the attic space,” Faulk explains. “Ag Barrier by Innovative Insulation blocks up to 96% of the sun’s radiant heat, reducing the temperatures inside hog barns by up to 60 degrees in summer. With the assistance of our partners like Bridgeport Corporation, we have eliminated the problem of heat stress for many farmers across North America. Ag Barrier’s benefits are evident year-round – from eliminating condensation under metal roofs to keeping buildings insulated and reducing propane costs in winter.”

“To date, Bridgeport has installed three million square feet of Ag Barrier. With every installation, the value of the product becomes more evident,” says Jason Whitmore, agricultural specialist for Bridgeport Corporation and thirty-year hog industry veteran. “Ag Barrier is easier to install than tradition insulation and costs half as much. The benefits of Ag Barrier extend far beyond savings at installation. Farmers we work with are seeing their attic temperatures drop forty to sixty degrees cooler, providing continuing savings on energy costs. Ag Barrier has the added benefit of not trapping moisture and condensation in ceilings and roofs, and carries a lifetime warranty, unlike most other brands of insulation.”

In addition to effectively insulating hog barns, Ag Barrier can be installed in the following agricultural and livestock buildings:

Farmers who use Ag Barrier can expect the following benefits that traditional foam and fiberglass insulation often cannot provide:

  • Wide range of performance options (R-value depends on application)
  • Fast and simple installation
  • Does not require respirators and/or protective garments to install – no fibers or dust
  • Blocks 96% of radiant heat
  • Improves health and well-being in livestock due to reduced building temperatures
  • Counters the “black globe effect” of heat stress in livestock, improving weight gain, reproduction and lowering mortality
  • Non-toxic
  • Non-carcinogenic

Ag Barrier costs just 13.9 cents per square foot, making it a highly economical solution for farmers looking to eliminate losses from heat stress and save on propane costs in the winter.

For more information on Ag Barrier, please contact Perry Faulk Sr., Executive Director and Agricultural Specialist at Innovative Insulation Inc., 1-800-825-0123.