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Personal Pig Cooler

Sows are having more piglets these days, and are eating more to feed them. This also means they’re generating more body heat in the process, causing thermal stress in hot weather. Faculty at Purdue University have developed a “personal pig cooling pad” that keeps mama pig cool while her piglets stay warm.

Robert Stwalley is an assistant professor of agriculture and biological engineering at Purdue. He says the pads look like a piece of aluminum tread plate fastened to a plastic base, with copper pipes in between that circulate water.

"The sow lays down on the aluminum plate, and a thermal contact in there determines that the temperature has risen to a certain point," says Stwalley. "We kick on a little solenoid valve and pump a little bit of nice, cool water through there for a little while."

Pigs are like dogs, they pant to get rid of excess heat. Stwalley says their research found that in 95-degree heat, the respiration rate of sows on the cooling pads dropped from 120-breaths-per-minute to 26.  He also notes this is a very energy efficient system.

"The advantage of this is, because we’re only cooling a very small space for that sow, we basically reduce the direct energy transfer from places where we want to keep it warm and places that we’re not trying to cool," he says. "We’re not wasting any energy uselessly pumping heat back and forth."

The university is working to find an industry partner to license the technology and produce it for sale to farmers.

Learn more about these personal pig coolers

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