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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Animal Science, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine

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Published Version

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EC Veterinary Science





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Objective: Pre-weaning mortality remains an industry concern. The study objectives were to 1) evaluate piglet performance and pre-weaning mortality when supplied with two heat source treatments at a constant temperature, 2) evaluate sow lying behavior and piglet location behavior in regard to heat source and proximity to the sow and 3) evaluate the energy usage of two different heat sources at a constant temperature.

Materials and Methods: Twenty-two multiparous crossbred sows housed in farrowing stalls were part of a completely randomized study and assigned to heat source treatment; Baby Pig Heat Mat - Single 48 (MAT; n = 12) or Poly Heat Lamp Fixture LAMP; n = 10). Piglets were weighed on D1 and weaning and any mortalities were recorded to evaluate piglet production measures. For seven days over the course of lactation (D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, W-7 and W-1) sows and their litters were recorded for 24-h. Still images were selected at 20-minute time increments and evaluated using a behavioral ethogram.

Results and Discussion: No piglet production differences were observed in, litter weaning weight (P = .97) and pre-weaning mortality (P = .90). There were piglet behavior differences within day by supplemental heat source treatment, however additional research is needed to further evaluate piglet behavior (P < .0001). Sows spent the majority of the time during observations lying laterally, further work is warranted to evaluate if heat source placement affects this behavior. Energy usage in kWh was different among treatments (P < .0001). Heat lamps (63.67 ± 0.79) utilized 3.8 times more electricity (kWh) than heats mats.

Implications and Applications: Significant energy and cost savings can be captured through the use of heat mats in the farrowing house as supplemental heat for the neonatal piglet from parturition to the end of lactation without negatively affecting pre-weaning mortality or piglet growth.


This article is published as Kenneth J Stalder. et al. “Comparison of Heat Lamps and Heat Mats in the Farrowing House: Effect on Piglet Production, Energy Usage and Piglet and Sow Behavior through Digital Observation”. EC Veterinary Science 5.5 (2020): 18-26.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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Kenneth J Stalder., et al.



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