Date of this Version
Research was conducted to assess the effects of the type of zone heater and floor mat used in a wean-to-finish facility on pig performance and operating cost. Gas-fired brooder heaters were compared to 250W heat lamps and farm-cut wood sheathing was compared to commercial (unheated) rubber floor mats for a 21-day post-weaning period. There was no effect of heating system or mat type on pig performance, either during the 21- day period immediately post-weaning or to slaughter. Black globe temperatures near the pig zone were slightly higher for the propane-fired heaters compared to the heat lamps, most likely due to the method and temperature settings used to control the gas flow to the heaters. Black globe temperatures were slightly higher for the wood mats versus the rubber mats, most likely due to the difference in infrared energy absorption between the black mats and the natural wood colored mats. When amortized over a seven-year payback period, total operating expense for the heat lamps and propane brooders was estimated to be similar based on 25 pigs per pen and 20 pens per propane control module. These results suggest that both types of heating systems are effective in maintaining an acceptable temperature zone for weaned pigs. They also suggest little difference in performance due to the type of floor mat under the zone heating device. The selection of heating system and floor mat material can be based on reasons other than pig performance.