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Preparing your swine barn for winter

Quick facts

Help ensure sure your pigs and workers have a good environment throughout winter without high fossil fuel costs.

  • Make sure the barn is "tight" enough to maintain adequate static pressure during outside temperatures less than 0 degrees F or minimum ventilation conditions.
  • Check "winter" room inlets to make sure they are properly adjusted, AND that there are enough attic or hallway inlets to supply air to these winter room inlets.
  • Check winter fans and heaters for proper operation. Also make sure the settings on the fan and heater controllers have a large enough offset so that heaters and second stage fans don’t run at the same time.

Keeping your barns tight

It’s essential for you to keep mechanically ventilated barns and curtain barns "tight." Make sure a slight vacuum or static pressure exists in the barn when only the continuous running exhaust fans are on. A general target for static pressure is 0.05 inches of water when measured with a manometer.

Every pig barn (or room) needs a manometer to monitor static pressure in the barn. The very minimum static pressure is 0.02 inches of water when your minimum or continuous running fan is operating. If you can’t maintain a slight vacuum or static pressure in your barn, you won’t be able to control the air exchange and quality in the barn.

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Checking inlets 

After making your barn tight, make sure air enters the barn or room where it’s designed to, usually through ceiling inlets. To allow air to enter the room through the gravity or actuator-controlled inlets, the inlets need to:

  • Be operating properly
  • Not be stuck
  • Not have excessive dirt

If the inlets take air from the attic, you must have sufficient attic openings to "feed" air to the ceiling inlets. Typically, these attic openings are eave inlets. Most buildings will have eave inlets on both sides of a mechanically ventilated building. During winter, we recommend that you leave only one side (south side if barns runs east and west) open. This will allow enough inlet opening to feed the barn's winter air exchange and prevent snow "blow through" in the attic during snow storms.

You may use other attic openings such as gale end louvers or ridge vents to supply air for the ceiling inlets. You should make sure there’s more attic opening (we recommend twice the area) than ceiling inlet area.

The same guidelines for supplying inlet air apply to a tempered or headed hallway in farrowing or nursery barns.

Checking winter fans and heaters 

Check ventilation components to make sure they are working properly.

  • Exhaust fans
  • Inlets
  • Heaters
  • Controllers
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Larry Jacobson, emeritus Extension engineer

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