Using an environmental monitoring system and employing the parameter of +/- 3 deg C of the set temperature – termed the ‘comfort zone’ – has enabled the company to compare similar buildings on different farms, old buildings with new and those of varying designs.

The company has produced some remarkable figures involving over 130,000 weaner-growers and a similar number of finishing pigs in controlled-environment houses over a five-year period. These will be available to pig producers.

“The figures show that the ‘comfort zone’ has been retained for an average of 95% of the time, both in summer and winter, though there have been interesting variations between old buildings and new and the way they have been managed,” said Tim Miller, ARM’s environment specialist.

“As far as we know, no-one has ever done this before,” he said.

“In a weaner building in cold weather, for instance, we can see if the temperature drops below 3 deg of the set temperature, which may be an indication of a heating failure. Similarly, in finishing sheds in summer the temperature may soar way beyond the set level and this could show fans not working or a poor level of insulation.

“Such cases warrant further investigation. Farmers may claim their pigs are doing well, but only by monitoring can you really see how a piggery is performing day-in, day-out.”

Since July 2009, ARM Building has been fitting data-loggers as standard equipment to all their new pig houses. These enable the buildings’ performance to be independently monitored though Farmex’s Barn Report system.