Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 September 2010
Although the environment comprises all aspects of the animals' surroundings, it is the climatic component which has the biggest effect upon productivity. The most convenient way to assess the environmental requirements of the pig is to determine its lower critical temperature and those animal, nutritional and environmental factors which influence it. This knowledge can then be used to assess the suitability of the various nutritional, husbandry and management systems for pig production including their manipulation to supply the correct environmental and housing conditions for optimal growth, development and reproduction. If conditions are not optimal then characteristics such as growth rate, food utilization, carcass composition, acquisition of immunity, sexual development and reproductive performance will be impaired. However, knowledge of the climatic requirements of the pig allows action to be taken to correct for any inadequacy of the environment and thus ensure optimum productivity. In addition, it allows greater precision in assessing food requirements and permits a rational approach to be used in the design of buildings and in deciding the type of housing, and management and husbandry practices most suited to the different types of pig production.
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