In the last article I looked at the preparation of the sow for farrowing. As a continuation now I shall look at the piglet how diseases enter the piglet when it is born. This has to do with organism’s entry into the piglet and cause disease, and here is where individual management plays a key …
In the last article I looked at the preparation of the sow for farrowing. As a continuation now I shall look at the piglet how diseases enter the piglet when it is born. This has to do with organism’s entry into the piglet and cause disease, and here is where individual management plays a key role.
The first orifice or opening for infection is the piglet’s mouth, which organisms on the floor, walls and water bowls can enter. It is important therefore, to clean and disinfect the pens rigorously in between batches of pigs. Cleaning is the key word. All done, dirt and bedding must be removed before a disinfectant is applied. Disinfectant must be chosen carefully. Those disinfectants based on chlorinated hydrocarbons must be avoided as they may be taken in by the piglet and inhibit its absorption of vitamin A, which may cause the piglet succumb to diseases.
Bedding in the form of straw and sawdust may contain substances which are dangerous to piglets. So avoid hardwood shavings and fungus-damaged bedding. Careful selection of clean bedding is important when it is to be used for baby piglets.
The sow (mother) is also a source of infection. The piglet may pick up bacteria or parasites from a dirty udder. In this case surely it would be better to wash the sow’s udder immediately before the sow farrows and not several days before hand. This would give a better chance that her teats will be clean when the piglets first suckle. The sow’s vagina and vulva may also carry infection, and must therefore be washed at the same time.
The sow’s faeces present a potentially dangerous source of infection. What should be known is that few parasites are capable of infecting the next host until they have been on the ground for five or six days so that daily removal of dung will prevent infection being passed on. The pig house must be designed to have an area that encourages pigs to dung in one area and therefore prevent piglets coming into contact with dung.
The sow’s nose is a source of respiratory disease to piglets and sows producing litters that instantly sneeze should not be bred again. This spread of respiratory diseases will infect the litter in the next pen unless each sow is farrowed in isolation. This why respiratory diseases spread more easily in a crate house than in a solari. Ideally there should be some solid division between farrowing pigs.
The sow’s urine may spread such diseases as leptospirosis (this disease may cause meningitis in young pigs) so adequate drainage must be supplied to allow rapid drainage. Pen design must also encourage urination in one area alone.
Skin diseases may be past from the sow to her litter. Mange is harbored by the sow and passed on to her piglets by direct contact. A case of this nature mange dressing before farrowing is essential. In severe infection sows would need two dressings at three week intervals would give good results when a proprietary parasiticide and wash is used on the whole body thoroughly.
A second source of infection is skin wounds. Many of these are present or are infected on young piglets and every care should be taken to stop infection entering.
1. Navels – long navels drag in the bedding and pick up infection. They should be broken as soon after birth as possible by pulling them apart. All navels should be dressed with a solution of tincture of iodine. Diseases which enter via the navel may not show until the piglet is three weeks old by which time it is too late for treatment.
2. Teeth clipping – this is necessary in gilts or large litters. Care must be taken not to damage the gums. Strict hygiene should be maintained through the operation to prevent infections of the tooth socket with subsequent abscess formation in the nose or soreness in the mouth.
3. Tai docking – the farmer should always remember that this is an operation. Attention must be paid to hygiene and to stopping the bleeding. Instruments should be disinfected between each pig and an antiseptic such as a strong solution of ferric per chloride applied to the stump.
4. Iron injection – care should be taken to cleanse the needle in between piglets when injecting iron. When giving this injection always aim at the centre of the back of the thigh. Gross pain and lameness result from injection in other areas. Abscesses result from faulty iron injections.
5. Castration – in many cases castration is carried out incorrectly and in a dirty manner. When pigs are dirty they must be cleaned before they are cut. Most disinfectants remain liquid and tend to run into the wound after the testicle is removed, carrying infection in with them. If disinfectants are to be used the area must be dried before castration. Surgical spirit dries quickly and gets over this problem.
6. Noses – noses are orifices of infection for respiratory diseases such as rhinitis and pneumonia. As these diseases are airborne it is best to house as few pigs as possible in a common air-space. This will prevent too much spread of the disease. Pigs have to be provided with a warm draught-free environment so that secondary pneumonias do not complicate the more, mild virus-caused respiratory diseases.
To sum up always remember that the abnormality in management which precipitates a disease may have occurred well before the onset of symptoms. Joint-ill usually occurs between 3 – 6 weeks of age and yet the bug usually enters the navel soon after birth. Farrowing fever is a disease of parturition, yet some of the factors predisposing to it occur well before farrowing. So when a pig farmer is looking at a farrowing problem look at the whole management pattern up to farrowing, and not at what changes are made the day before the disease was first noticed. These pig are giving the farmer good income. So it is important to look after them.