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REAL-TIME BEHAVIOR-BASED ASSESSMENT AND CONTROL OF SWINE THERMAL COMFORT
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.orgCitation: Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium, 18-20 May 2005 (Beijing, China) Publication Date 18 May 2005 701P0205.(doi:10.13031/2013.18431)
Authors: H. Xin and B. Shao
Assessment and control of environment and thus animal comfort in production confinement is
typically based on predetermined ambient temperature levels. This traditional approach often
falls short in meeting the animals’ true thermal need because it does not integrate the effects of
other contributing factors, such as drafts, humidity (particularly in hot conditions), radiation (in
poorly insulated barns), floor type and/or condition (dry vs. wet), nutritional plane and health
status of the animal. Singular and certain combined effects of physical and nutritional factors on
swine have been researched and documented quite extensively over the years (Boon, 1981, 1982;
Brody, 1945; Bruce and Clark, 1979; Close, 1981; DeShazer and Overhults, 1982; Hahn et al.,
1987; Le Dividich, 1982; Mount et al., 1968, 1975; Riskowski et al., 1990; Sallvik, 1984; Ye and
Xin, 2000; Xin and DeShazer, 1991; Xin et al., 1999, 2000). Yet it is formidable to measure all
influencing factors to produce a comprehensive thermal comfort index for assessment and
control. The best indicator of the environment adequacy and thus animal comfort is animals
themselves that integrate both external and internal factors, which in turn lead to distinctive
resting behaviors. Huddling, resting next to one another, and spreading are the stereotypical
postural patterns of animals that experience cold, comfortable, and warm/hot sensation,
respectively. Dedicated animal caretakers often use such behavioral patterns to fine-tune the
ideal air temperature settings. However, it is laborious and impractical for the caretakers to
perform such manual adjustments on a continual and consistent basis.