New Publication Helps Farmers Conserve Energy in Swine Facilities

swine farrowing environmentAMES, Iowa – Managing swine farrowing facilities to maintain a thermally comfortable environment for both sows and piglets is challenging. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach explains how using localized heating to create a microclimate for piglets can reduce mortality rates and overall energy consumption.

“Conserving Energy by Using Localized Heating in Swine Housing” (PM 2089V) is available to download from the Extension Online Store,

“Swine farrowing rooms have animals with very different thermal needs in close proximity,” said Jay Harmon, professor and ISU Extension agricultural engineer. “Creating microclimates in farrowing facilities using heat lamps or heat mats can improve the health and comfort of piglets while also conserving energy.”

This publication provides an overview of research conducted by Iowa State University. Case study results show a lower piglet mortality rate and lower lamp breakage rates for 175 watt heat lamps versus 250 watt heat lamps. The lower wattage lamp also consumes less electricity, thereby improving energy efficiency. Additional topics include management of variable output heat lamps, heat mats and sizing propane gas brooders.

“As they grow, the temperature preference of piglets decreases and they need less localized supplemental heat,” said Hongwei Xin, Iowa State University professor in agriculture and biosystems engineering. “Gradually reducing supplemental heating to meet their changing needs can improve overall energy efficiency.”

For more tips on energy efficiency around the farmstead, visit or follow @ISU_Farm_Energy on Twitter.

The Farm Energy publications are part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the ISU Farm Energy Initiative. The purpose is to increase farmers’ awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy. The initiative also will help farmers and utility providers to explore opportunities to reduce farm energy demand and to improve overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.