South African Journal of Animal Science

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Effects of air temperature on physiology and productive performance of pigs during growing and finishing phases

R.F. Oliveira, R.H.R. Moreira, M.L.T. Abreu, M.P. Gionbelli, A.O. Teixeira, V.S. Cantarelli, R.A. Ferreira


Thirty-six castrated male pigs were used to determine the influence of thermal environment and reduction of consumption on performance and carcass composition. Animals were housed in two climate chambers. In one, animals were in thermal comfort (TN) (22 °C), and in the other, pigs were under heat stress (HS) (34 °C). Animals were distributed in a randomized block design, making three treatments (TN, HS and animals in thermal comfort with food consumption paired with that observed in HS (PFTN)), with six replicates and two animals per experimental unit. Data were obtained on performance and carcass composition. The weight gains of HS and PFTN animals were reduced by 40.5% and 34.7%, respectively, reflecting a reduction of 13.2% in the final weight of PFTN animals. Triiodothyronine concentration was not affected by heat, but there was an increase in lymphocyte numbers in PFTN animals. The HS and PFTN animals showed lower hot carcass weight. However, there were no effects on hot carcass yield and relative weights of heart, lung and spleen. Heat stress compromised performance. The negative effects of high temperature on pigs include reduction in feed intake and changes in physiology.

Keywords: Environment, heat stress, pair feed, pig growth, pig production

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