Piglet Anaemia: Part 3 in Blog Series on 3 Common Pig Diseases in Zimbabwe

 In Advice, Health

As Red Dane has recently diversified to include a pork and sheep business in our family, Kikaboni, we thought we’d share a series of blogs on the most common pig diseases in Zimbabwe, and how you can prevent, diagnose and treat them! The third blog in the series is on piglet anaemia.

Piglet Anaemia is caused by iron deficiency and is more likely to occur in piglets raised on concrete floors in indoor pens. Piglets are born with iron levels that are too low for the formation of sufficient haemoglobin in their blood. The iron provided by sow milk makes up only 15 to 50% of daily requirements[i] and if raised on soil, piglets can generally absorb the rest of what they need from the soil (although in some cases the farmer may still need to supplement iron). However, in modern times, piglets are rarely raised outside and so they need to get this iron from somewhere else, to prevent anaemia and the consequences of this disease. Anaemia can also be caused by insufficient copper levels, as copper is required for iron to be used in the formation of haemoglobin, and so copper levels should be monitored as well if signs of anaemia appear.

Prevention

The following will help you to prevent iron deficiency in your piglets:

If your piglets are raised indoors then they need to be injected in the hind leg muscles or the neck with 100 to 200mg of iron dextran or Intrafer B between 3 to 5 days old. Iron should not be administered at birth as this can damage the piglets’ muscles[ii].

  • Increase iron levels in the lactating sows’ diets. This will allow piglets to receive more iron from the sow’s manure (not her milk).
  • Scatter sterilised soil or iron compounds on the floor of the farrowing pens[iii].

Clinical Symptoms

  • Rapid loss of piglet body condition and temporary cessation of growth.
  • Paleness and a yellow tinge to the skin (jaundiced appearance)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased susceptibility to other diseases
  • In severe cases, rapid breathing
  • Testing haemoglobin levels in the blood will show levels less than 8g/100ml.

Treatment

As with PPV, piglet anaemia is better prevented than treated. If piglets receive the correct supplementary iron injections as described above, they should not become anaemic.


Sources

[i] Iowa State University, Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine. (2019). Iron Deficiency Anemia. Retrieved from Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine: https://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/FSVD/swine/index-diseases/iron-deficiency-anemia

[ii] Queensland Government. (2019, October 1). Piglet Anaemia. Retrieved from Queensland Government, Business Queensland: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/livestock/animal-welfare/pests-diseases-disorders/piglet-anaemia

[iii] Towers, L. (2015, June 1). Are Your Piglets Iron Deficient? – Causes, Signs and Treatment. Retrieved from The Pig Site: https://thepigsite.com/articles/are-your-piglets-iron-deficient-causes-signs-and-treatment

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