Posted on: December 22, 2023

Care for Hogs in a South Dakota Winter

As the winter season descends upon South Dakota, pork producers face the challenge of providing proper care to their animals in the harsh winter conditions. Keeping hogs healthy and comfortable during this time is crucial for their well-being and overall productivity. South Dakota Pork Producers is here to show the essential aspects of winter care for hogs that our producers do each and every winter.

Shelter and Bedding. The cornerstone of winter care for hogs is providing them with adequate shelter. Most of our producers have well-insulated, ventilated, and temperature controlled barns, while others opt for outside raising where they provide shelters that are essential to protect them from the biting cold and wind. These shelters are free from drafts and the temperature inside remains above freezing. Bedding such as straw, hay, or wood shavings helps keep hogs warm and comfortable, as it provides insulation against the cold ground and a cozy place to rest.

Proper Nutrition. Hogs require more calories during the winter to maintain their body temperature. Their diet is adjusted accordingly by increasing their food intake. Adequate nutrition is essential for maintaining their health and promoting growth.

Hydration. Ensuring that pigs have access to clean, unfrozen water is critical during the winter. Heated waterers or regular checks to replace water sources to prevent freezing. Dehydration can lead to various health issues, so our producers are diligent in monitoring water availability.

Health Monitoring. Regular health checks are essential during winter. Hogs are more susceptible to respiratory illnesses in cold and damp conditions. They are monitored for signs of illness, such as coughing or nasal discharge, and seek veterinary care if needed. Additionally, there is a watchful eye kept on their body condition and adjustments are made to their diet as necessary to prevent weight loss.

Frostbite Prevention. Hogs are susceptible to frostbite on their ears, tails, and extremities, especially in extremely cold weather. hogs that are raised outdoors are protected by applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly or a commercial frostbite prevention product to these vulnerable areas. Providing windbreaks and additional bedding also help prevent frostbite.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation. Pigs need exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and content. Even during the winter, they have opportunities to move around, interact with other hogs, and explore their environment. Indoor areas with sufficient space for movement can be beneficial when outdoor conditions are harsh.

Winter care for hogs in South Dakota demands extra attention and effort, but it's essential for their well-being and productivity. By providing adequate shelter, nutrition, hydration, and health monitoring, our producers ensure that their hogs stay warm, healthy, and happy throughout the winter season.