Efficient heating of piglet nests
Abstract. The impact of hovers (closed nests) in the farrowing pen on energy consumption was studied. The hovers were equipped with electric heating tube, sensor, and automatically controlled heat regulation. They reduce energy losses and provide a warm environment for piglets, as well as a thermally suitable farrowing unit for sows. Temperature wise, hovers provide a high level of comfort for both. During the two-year experimental period, electricity usage was measured from farrowing to weaning during 60 lactations standardised to 28 days. On average, the electricity consumption was 42.68 kWh per lactation (51.51 kWh in winter and 33.65 kWh during summer season). Major part of the energy was used in the first week of lactation (41.45 %). After that, the weekly usage of energy decreased (29.26 %, 19.89 %, 9.40 % from the second to the fourth week, respectively) because of the decreased needs for supplemental heating and increased self produced warmth of older piglets. The calculation of total costs for heating showed that nearly 100.21 EUR per farrowing pen were saved annually compared to the system without hovers and without heat regulation, a common practice in piglet production.