Piglet/Swine Mortality and Anemia Management: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Piglet mortality refers to the death of piglets within the first few weeks of life, which is a major challenge in swine production worldwide. Several factors contribute to piglet mortality, including poor sow nutrition, low birth weight, infectious diseases, and environmental stressors. Farmers use management strategies, such as improved nutrition and housing, vaccination programs, and hygiene measures, to reduce piglet mortality rates.

Piglet/Swine Mortality and Anemia Management

Piglet anemia is a common condition that affects newborn piglets, characterized by low hemoglobin levels in the blood. Iron deficiency, parasitic infections, or genetic factors can cause piglet anemia. Iron supplementation through injections or dietary supplements is commonly used to prevent and treat piglet anemia. Anemic piglets may appear weak, pale, and lethargic, and if left untreated, the condition can lead to reduced growth rates, increased susceptibility to diseases, and higher mortality rates.

Piglet/Swine Mortality and Anemia Management

Causes of Piglet Mortality

Piglet mortality is a significant challenge in pig farming and can lead to significant economic losses. Pre-weaning mortality rates can range between 12-30%, with most deaths occurring due to starvation and overlying by the sow. However, there are various other causes of piglet mortality, including stillbirths, genetic defects, enteritis, pneumonia, and unknown reasons. Therefore, farmers must implement various management strategies to minimize piglet mortality rates.

The most common cause of piglet mortality is starvation and overlying by the sow. Farmers can take several measures to prevent these, such as improving newborn piglets’ birth weight and vigor, minimizing the risk of chilling or hypothermia, and minimizing agalactia. Agalactia, or lack of milk production in the sow, can be caused by poor sow nutrition, mastitis, and stress. Farmers can prevent agalactia by providing adequate nutrition to the sow during gestation and lactation, practicing good hygiene, and monitoring the sow’s health closely.

Causes of Piglet Anemia

Piglet anemia is a common condition that affects newborn piglets, characterized by low hemoglobin levels in the blood. Hemoglobin is a red blood cell protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. Piglets are particularly susceptible to anemia because they have a limited iron reserve in their liver for hemoglobin synthesis, and their milk is very low in iron.

Iron is an essential mineral for the production of hemoglobin, and without adequate iron levels, piglets can develop anemia. The primary cause of piglet anemia is iron deficiency. During gestation, the placenta transfers limited amounts of iron to the fetus, and piglets are born with low iron reserves. Additionally, sow’s milk is low in iron, contributing to the risk of piglet anemia. 

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Swine / Baby Pig

Symptoms of Piglet Anemia

The symptoms of piglet anemia can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Still, some common signs include pale skin in the region of the ears and belly, listlessness, and rapid breathing. Anemic piglets may also exhibit diarrhea and reduced appetite, further exacerbating the condition. In severe cases of piglet anemia, piglets may be too weak to nurse, leading to further dehydration and malnourishment. This can cause a vicious cycle of anemia because the piglet’s body needs enough food to make hemoglobin, which is needed to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.

Treatment for Piglet Anemia

  • Pig farming suffers from piglet anemia, which must be prevented and treated for optimum health and growth. Iron dextran injections can cure piglet anemia.
  • According to Managing Pig Health, piglets should receive a one or 2ml infusion of 150-200mg iron dextran. A 2ml dose at birth can cause muscle trauma, so pigs should receive iron supplementation from three to five days of age.