Impacts of global warming on confined livestock systems for growing-fattening pigs: simulation of heat stress for 1981 to 2017 in Central Europe
In the mid-latitudes, pigs and poultry are kept predominantly in confined livestock buildings with a mechanical ventilation system. In the last decades, global warming has already been a challenge which causes hat stress for animals in such systems. Heat stress inside livestock buildings was assessed by a simulation model for the indoor climate, which is driven by meteorological parameters. Besides the meteorological conditions, the thermal environment inside the building depends on the sensible and latent energy release of the animals, the thermal properties of the building and the ventilation system and its control unit. For a site in Austria in the north of the Alpine Ridge, which is representative for confined livestock buildings for growing-fattening pigs in Central Europe, meteorological data between 1981 and 2017 were used for the model calculations of heat stress measures. This business-as-usual simulation over these 37 years resulted in an increase of the mean relative annual heat stress parameters in the range between 0.9 and 6.4% per year since 1981. In order to minimise the negative economic impact as the consequence of this positive trend of heat stress, adaptation measures are needed. The calculations for growing-fattening pigs show that such a simulation model for the indoor climate is an appropriate tool to determine the level of heat stress of livestock inside confined livestock buildings.