Do pigs sweat?: This is how their sophisticated system works to regulate temperature

Pigs are endothermic or warm-blooded, which means they maintain a stable body temperature regardless of the temperature of their environment (REUTERS)

The phrase “sweating like a pig” can conjure up mental images of rivulets of sweat trickling down a pig’s skin on a stiflingly hot day, but is one of the most misleading idioms. the pigs they have only a limited number of functioning sweat glands, so that only sweat a small amount, and the little sweat they produce It doesn’t affect your body temperature much. Then, How are pigs cooled?

the pigs They are endothermic or warm-blooded. which means that they maintain a stable body temperature regardless of the temperature of their environment. In most cases, the body temperature of endothermic animals is warmer than that of their environment. On the contrary, the ectotherms, either cold blooded animals, they rely primarily on external heat sources, so their body temperature changes along with the temperature of their surroundings.

There are two ways that animals regulate their body temperature: metabolism and behavior. The main difference between the two types of thermoregulation is that one is fast and the other takes a long time. “The metabolic approach to thermoregulation is really quite slow,” he said. Dan Tucker, professor of veterinary public health Cambridge University in the UK.

In this case, a hormone produced by the thyroid gland, known as thyroxinehelps to control the basic metabolism of the pig, that is, the process in which the body converts ingested calories into energy. In turn, metabolic cycles generate heat. An article published in 2006 in the magazine Physiological Reviews has shown that when pigs are exposed to hot or cold temperatures consistently for days or weeks, these cycles can be turned on or off by thyroxine to generate more heat or cool the body.

There are two ways that animals regulate their body temperature: metabolism and behavior (REUTERS)
There are two ways that animals regulate their body temperature: metabolism and behavior (REUTERS)

The behavioral Thermoregulation, On the contrary, it can help cool down or raise body temperature in a much shorter time. “When it’s hot, pigs wallow in water or mud, which affects body temperature in a similar way to human sweat.” Tucker a Livescience. As the water or mud evaporates from the pig’s body, the animal cools. Pigs may also seek shaded areas or “conduct heat away from their body by lying down on a cold surface,” according to Tucker. These animals they also pant to cool off. Panting increases airflow and water evaporation from your lungs, which releases extra heat from your body.

However, according to the expert, many groups within the broader pig family live in more temperate parts of the world where they spend more energy keeping warm than cool. In cold weather, pigs huddle together for warmth, build nests or shiver, a behavior commonly seen in piglets just hours after they are born.

When exposed to higher temperatures, pigs reduce the amount of food they eat. This is another method to cool down, since digesting less food reduces the amount of heat produced during foraging, food and digestion The body size of a pig is actually an important factor for its thermoregulation: Small pigs lose more heat through their skin than large pigs, which have “a smaller surface area to body volume ratio and therefore a smaller surface area to lose heat,” he noted. Tucker. Farmers, who selectively breed pigs for rapid growth and more efficient meat production, will find a higher prevalence of heat stress in their herds because the pigs are larger.

Farmers, who selectively breed pigs for fast growth and more efficient meat production, will find a higher prevalence of heat stress in their herds because pigs are larger (REUTERS)
Farmers, who selectively breed pigs for fast growth and more efficient meat production, will find a higher prevalence of heat stress in their herds because pigs are larger (REUTERS)

Given that exposure to hot environments can cause pigs to eat less, which in turn can lead to smaller pigs, should pig farmers be concerned about the effects of climate change as average global temperatures rise? After all, heat stress can lead to decreased sperm quality in boars, smaller litters and inability to conceive in sows, according to a study published in the journal Scandinavic Veterinary Act. Longer exposure to high temperatures can weaken the immune system of pigs Y, at higher extremes, pigs can go into hyperthermic shock, which is actually a cardiovascular collapse. Your blood pressure drops, which can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

“Pork is the second most consumed meat worldwide after chicken meat”, Indian Tucker. “Farmers need to consider the increasing likelihood of heat stress, not just for the value of their herds, but as an animal welfare issue,” he added. Tucker.

So where does the phrase “sweating like a pig” come from? The phrase originates from the process of smelting iron. When hot iron is poured onto sand, the pieces that cool resemble a sow and piglets, as reported by the Office for Science and Society of the McGill University. As the surrounding air reaches its dew point, moisture droplets form on the metal surface, and this sweat indicates that the “pig iron” is cool enough to touch.

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