Happy as a Pig in Mud
Of all the animals on our farms, pigs probably have the least deserved reputation. Sheep, though smart, may be seen as dumb herd animals, and chickens may have a reputation as cowards, but it is only the poor pig that is seen as unclean. So much so in fact, that some religions prohibit the consumption of pork for fear of disease or contamination. Yet in reality, pigs are remarkably clean animals. Their ‘dirty’ reputation comes from their love of wallowing in the mud, but this is nothing to do with cleanliness.
Why do pigs wallow?
In 2011, Marc Bracke of Wageningen University researched wallowing behaviour and found that it served several different purposes. Reviewing 66 academic papers, he discovered that the major reason that pigs wallow is to reduce their body temperature. With few sweat glands, mud wallowing is a highly effective way of cooling their bodies. Wallowing can reduce body temperature by as much as 2C, and it is more effective than a dip in cold water. This research disproves yet another common misconception of these creatures; the idea that profuse perspiration is ‘sweating like a pig’.
Bracke also found evidence that wallowing helped to reduce tick and lice, helping pigs to naturally control their skin condition without pesticides or anti parasite chemicals. However, the research also came up with a fascinating conclusion: pigs sometimes wallow for the sheer fun of it, simply because it feels good. They are literally as happy as a pig in mud!
It is an interesting perspective for modern farmers to consider when thinking about the welfare of their animals. While it may seem that wallowing can be replaced by air conditioning, for temperature regulation, and pest control measures, to keep away unwanted infestations, replacing the fun of this natural behaviour is not so easy.
Supporting Pig farmers
Whether you rear your pigs outdoors, with access to wallowing mud, indoors in sheds, or using a combination of both, Kilco has a range of products to help you keep your pigs, and their environment, far cleaner than their reputation suggests. With you every step of the way, from farrow to finish, Kilco supports pig farmers with everything from detergents and disinfectants to Envirex, our absorbent, hygienic bedding powder.
Detergents like Ecofoam Advanced and Ecofoam Plus are an essential part of your cleaning regime, with long cling, high performance foams that are effective against all kinds of fats and protein residues. Wide spectrum, DEFRA approved disinfectants such as HPPA, Kilcox Extra, Cyclex and Viroshield are a key part of your integrated biosecurity protocols, helping to guard against diseases like coccidiosis and cryptosporidiosis.
Take a fresh look at pigs
Given what we now know about the natural behaviour of pigs, and the state of the art measures available from Kilco to help to pig farmers to keep their environment hygienically clean, perhaps it is time we revised our view of pigs as dirty sweaty animals. They are, after all, much cleaner than we think – even if they are happiest when they’re in mud!
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27th November 2019
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