Thursday, February 10, 2011

Swine production

Overview of pig production in Nigeria

Pigs are kept for meat production. the meat obtained from pigs can be pork (fresh meat), bacon (mainly fat) and lard (white, slightly soft, pork fat). Pig meat (pork) is a very important source of animal protein in human diets. Pig rearing is popular in many parts of Nigeria, which has the highest production in Africa. In areas where pigs are reared on free range, they are most valued as a kind of "savings" to the farmer from where he can get some finance in the time of need. 

Commercial production of pigs under intensive and semi-intensive system is possible in the country because of the high demand in some part of the country.

Characteristics of pig as a farm animal  

1. Pigs are very aggressive and also inquisitive in nature.
2. Unlike other livestock, pigs have higher survival rate especially under scarcity of inputs.
3. They reproduce faster than cattle and from estimate, they have more offspring. By the time the first calf is
     ready for market, 30-40 slaughtered pigs can be sold from one sow with about 5-10 times the amount of
     the edible meat.
4. Pigs have the ability to convert agro-industrial waste products to meat cheaply and more rapidly than any
    other domestic quadruped.
5. The pig carcass yield a high dressing percentage of edible meat which is of greater nutritious value.

Limitation to pig production in Nigeria

1. One of the most limiting factor in pig production is the loss due to parasites and diseases. Adequately
    planned veterinarian programmes for pigs will go a long way in enhancing profitability of the enterprise.
    Also, veterinary cost may be reduced with high standard of sanitation.
2. Un-availability of breeding stock with superior genetic background, Efficienct disease control, good
    nutrition and management cannot make any impact in pig production enterprise if the genetic make-up of
    the animal is poor.
3. The third problem is poor feed. Feeding of pigs in Nigeria is poor.
4. Capital. Swine production require good housing and fencing materials.
5. Poor management system. Pigs are very sensitive to careless management system. Poor management is
    mostly responsible for the low average productivity in pig production in Nigeria.
6. Religious and social disposition to pig and pig production.
7. Marketing problem. Unlike egg, milk and meat which are universally acceptable to many Nigerians, pig
    products are not as widely acceptable to all.
8. Record keeping. Most farmers do not have the habit of record keeping.

Strategies for development of pig production

1. A development policy which focus on the following should be put in place.
      (a.) Large scale feed depot.   
      (b.) Pig breeding and multiplication centre should be for the production and distribution of foundation 
            stock and weaners to prospective pig producers.
2. There should be mobilization of small scale pig producers. the farmers should be involved in any
    development plan.
3. Compensation policy in the case of disease outbreak.
4. Extension support services that will be focused on increased productivity of swine should be put in place.

Breeds of pigs

There are over 90 recognized breeds of pigs and an estimated 230 varieties of pigs in the world. In Nigeria, pigs have been classed into indigenous and exotic breeds.

Indigenous pig breed
The indigenous pigs are usually of modest size with adults reaching 100kg maximum weight but rarely weigh more than 60kg at the first year of existence, even under the best rearing conditions. In general, the indigenous breeds have smaller and shorter legs than exotic types with the typical unimproved conformation of a large head, well developed forequarters and relatively light hind quarters. 
The indigenous pigs are sexually early maturing. Females may show first oestrus as early as three months of age. The skin is often black, brown or occasionally spotted but rarely white. The sow of indigenous pigs have good mothering ability. This has been reported to be responsible for low piglet mortality.

Exotic breeds
Exotic breeds of pigs were mostly brought from Europe. They constitute the commercial herds being reared under semi-intensive and intensive management systems.

Example of exotic breeds are:

Large white (Yorkshire). Large white is a very popular breed throughout the world. It is fast growing, strong-frammed with good body length. Large white is widely distributed in Africa and is used extensively for cross-breeding. For instance, the Large white X Landrace female is the most popular cross for commercial production. The white hair and skin render the carcass more acceptable to consumers than that of coloured breed. However, shade and wallows are essential for the breed to prevent skin from sun burns.

Other exotic breed of pig are:

i.  Danish Landrace
ii. Duroc
iii. Hampshire
iv. Berkshire

Pig production systems

There are three distinct production systems.

(1.) Extensive or free range:  This system is the traditional method of rearing pigs in most parts of the world.
(2.) Semi-intensive:    In this system, the animals are restricted to a limited area and therefore the farmer takes
       the whole responsibility of feeding them. The pigs are allowed into fenced larger yard to graze, wallow
       and exercise.
(3.) Intensive system:   This is the commercial method of pig production under which economic considerations
      are the sole determinant of herd size. The farmer grows or buys feed for the animals. There is an absolute 
     requirement for skilled management including veterinary protection against parasites and diseases to
     optimize output.

Management procedures in pig production can be divided into two categories:

(1.)  Daily routine management
(a.) Supply of water: Water should be provided first thing in the morning. The left over water in
       the trough should be removed and the trough is thoroughly clean and refill with clean fresh
       water. The water in the wallow should be changed regularly too.

(b.)  Feeding: Dry feed should be made available at all times. Restricted feed should be supplied
        twice daily. The fresh feed provided should not be more than what the pig can consume
        within 20-30 minutes. Left over should be removed because such feed can get sour and may
        be a breeding ground for maggot. If possible green vegetable should be provided daily. If
        breeding stocks are reared on pasture, this must be done in the morning before the weather
        become hot.

(c.)  Cleaning:- After watering and feeding, clean up the pens. Remove moist bedding and
        replace with a dry one. Wood shavings can be used for young animals and sawdust for older
        ones. If a pen is vacated, it should be washed, disinfected and allowed to rest for at least one
        or two weeks before other animals can be brought in.

(d.)  Animal inspection:- Inspect animals early in the morning and watch out for any abnormal
       behavior. Observe their general state of health, injuries, general comfort and signs of heat.

(2.) Specific management procedures

(a.)  Management of breeding herds
Pigs selected for breeding usually include the young male and females. The pig experiences fast oestrus at about 5-6 months of age but should be allowed to cycle twice or thrice before mating and it is usually better to start mating at about 8 months of age. Breeding of gilt (a young female) at an early age causes production of few piglets per litter. Similarly, the boar should not be allowed to breed until about 8 months of age. Early breeding could lead to low conception rate in female due to sperm dilution. The mating ratio is 1 boar to 10 sows. Pregnant sows required exercise on pasture and restricted feeding. Flushing before mating and farrowing is recommended.

Once the gilt/sow has been successfully served, conception will occur. The gestation length in pig is 114 days. All sows should be checked periodically to detect any one that has returned to oestrus so that they can be served again.

Heat stress has been recognized as a major source of embryo losses especially during early pregnancy. It is important that pregnant sows should be shielded from extremes of heat especially during the hottest months of the year through the provision of shades and wallows.

(b.)  Management of sow and her litter
The foundation for successful farrowing is laid by proper feeding and care of the sow during the gestation and pre-gestation period. The pregnant sows should be led to the farrowing pen a few days before parturition to enable them to adapt to the environment. The pen must be thoroughly fenced and disinfected before occupation.

There must be suitable type of bedding such as wood shavings, saw dust, straws, and crushed maize cobs. The more unfavourable the weather, the greater the bedding materials required. After farrowing, the foetal membrane and wet beddings must be removed and a thin layer of dry bedding is put inside the pen. The stubs of each piglet should be dip into 15% iodine tincture to disinfect and seal the navel against harmful micro-organisms.

The additional management practices for the piglet include cutting of the 4 pairs of needle teeth which are normally present at birth. This is done because piglets can inflict injuries on their dams and one another. Iron is given orally or intramuscularly to prevent baby pig anaemia. Baby pig anaemia is a common cause of baby pig losses. It is also necessary to reduce the number of piglets to the number of functional teat by either artificial rearing or by passing some of the piglets to foster dams. The foster dam should be pig that farrowed the same time to guarantee the acceptance of the piglet by the foster dam. Harmless disinfectants or other local materials such as onions can be used to rub the body of the foster piglet and the body of the foster dam. The dam should not be provided with concentrate for the first 2 days. Fibrous feed should be fed to the dams.

Within 24 hours of birth, the individual piglets should be marked for identification and record purposes.

(c.)   Management of growing and fattened pigs
Pigs that are not purposed for breeding are sent into growing fatten stock. The pig can be castrated to improve the carcass quality, increase the growth rate and also prevent the production of phenols which is the characteristics odour (i.e. born odour). Their management essentially involved good nutritional practices. Growing pigs up to 45 kg weight are fed ad libitum while restricted feeding is practiced between 45-90 kg body weight to ensure that there is no excess deposition of fat.

The pig has a digestive system which is classified as mono-gastric. The digestive tract of the pig has five main parts: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestine.

Specific factors (nutritional, environmental and managerial) are known to affect performance of pigs on the farm.  65% of the cost of production of pigs goes to feeds.

Figure: Factors that need to be considered when developing pig’s diet
An essential part of a sound feeding strategy is to make good decisions on which ingredients to use in the diet.  Ingredients provide nutrients that pigs require for normal performance. Pigs do not require specific ingredients in their diets, but instead require energy and nutrients such as amino acids, minerals and vitamins. There are numerous ingredients available to use in pig feed.

Classes of nutrients in swine nutrition

Pigs need energy for maintenance, growth, reproduction and lactation.  The bulk of pig’s energy requirement is met by carbohydrates and fats.  Fats and oils are dense sources of energy containing about 2.25 times more calories than carbohydrates.  The energy content of feedstuffs and energy requirement of pigs are commonly expressed as metabolizable energy (ME).

State Sources of energy:
i Maize,  (ii)  Cereal offal’s etc

Protein and amino acids
Pigs of all ages and stages of the life cycle require amino acids. Amino acids are the structural units of protein. During digestion, proteins are broken down into amino acids and peptides.  The amino acids peptides are absorbed into the body and are used to build new proteins, such as muscles.  Thus, pigs require amino acids, not protein.  Diets that are “balanced” with respect to amino acids contain a desirable level and ratio of the 10 essential amino acids required by pigs for maintenance, growth, reproduction and lactation.  Those 10 essential amino acids for swine are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, lencine, hysine, methionine, phyenyalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

Minerals serve many important functions in pig nutrition.  These range from structural functions in bone to a wide variety of chemical reactions essential for maintenance, growth, reproduction and lactation.  Pigs require at least 13 minerals.  Of these calcium, chlorine, copper, iodine, iron, Manganese, Phosphorns, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc should routinely be added to the diet.

  • How can these minerals be supplied?
Answer – Practical Maize-Soybean meal based diets contain sufficient levels of magnesium, potassium and sulphur.

Major sources of minerals
Mineral element
Major Source
Limestone, Oyster shell, Bone meal
Common Salt
Common Salt
Bone meal

Vitamins are organic compounds that are required in very small amounts for maintenance, growth, reproduction and lactation. Some Vitamins (thiamin, Vitamin B6, and vitamin C) probably do not need to be included in the diet because they are synthesized from other compounds in the body or by microorganisms in the digestive tract, or grain-soybean meal diets contain sufficient amount to meet the pig’s requirement.  Vitamins are classified as either fat solube (vitamins A, D, E, and K) or water solube.  The water solube vitamins routinely added to all swine diets include niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and vitamin B12.                 In addition, biotin, choline and folic acid routinely are added to diets for breeding swine. Vitamin potency in feed and manufactured products will decrease with exposure to light, high humidity, heat, rancid fat and oxygen.  For best results, store basemixes and trace mineral-vitamin premixes in a cool, dry dark place and use them within 30 days of purchase.  Premixes containing only vitamins can be stored longer.

Water is one of the most important components of a feeding programme for swine.  Vital to all body functions, water accounts for as much as 80% of body weight in pigs at birth and declines to about 50% at adulthood.

Feed requirement for pigs in a Tropical Environment
Daily feed required (kg/head)
1 – 8 weeks (creep)
8 – 16 weeks (Growers)
16 – 24 weeks (Finished

Feeds for different classes of pigs
The nutrient requirement of pigs depends on such factors as age, sex, productive status and environmental conditions.

Creep Ration
When piglets are between 7 – 10 days, provide them with Creep feed from a separate trough to which the dam has no access.  Feed them in very small amounts, fresh “little and often” at first for the piglets to be accustomed, then it can be increased according to appetite.  This should continue till the young pigs are weaned at between 6 to 9 weeks of age. Creep ration though expensive, is necessary for a good start and should be supplied freely to piglets. Creep feed supplements the declining milk yield of the sow as her lactation advances.  The ration should contain a crude protein level of about 24% and metabolizable energy (ME) of 3100 Kcal/Kg.  

Weaner’s ration
This ration should be gradually introduced before the pigs are completely weaned at age between 5 – 8 weeks.  The practice allows for smother transition the pigs should have free access to the ration at all times.  The protein content of the weaner ration is slightly lower than that of creep ration (18 – 22%) with metabolizable energy at 3000 Kcal/Kg.  The fibre content should be higher than that of creep rations.  Weaners should be on this ration till the live weight of about 35 – 45 when they should be gradually being introduced to grower ration.

Growing/Finishing ration
The grower/finishing ration should have higher fibre content than creep and weaners’ ration.  The crude protein content should be lowered to between 16 – 18% while the energy should be about 3000Kcal/Kg.

Fatteners ration
Rations fed at the fattener’s stage should be designed to avoid putting on excessive fat, but must not restrict growth.  Such ration is made up of 15 – 16% crude protein and is usually high in fibre, while the energy requirement of 3000 Kcal/Kg is adequate.

Breeders ration
Breeder ration is usually prepared to meet the requirement of the breeding stock.  Good litter size and healthy newborn piglets start with the correct feeding of the sow at breeding time.  Like the boar, sows should be in thrifty condition, neither thin nor fat when bred.  This helps the sow to conceive larger number of piglets when bred.  Crude protein level should between 15 – 16% and should be high in fibre.

This is the practice of increasing the level of feed about one week before mating in order to stimulate an increase in number of ova shed in sows. This ration should have a higher energy.  However, once bred, the pregnant sow should be returned to the normal ration so as to gain weight steadily through pregnancy

Reproduction in swine is an integrated process that involves many events, including attainment of puberty and normal estrous cycles, fertilizations embryonic and fetal development during pregnancy, farrowing and recovery of sow’s reproductive system during lactation.  These events must occur in a coordinated sequence or the entire process fails.  Failures of these processes cannot be measured directly, but are reflected in reductions in farrowing rates (number of sows mated that produce piglets) and/or number of pigs born alive.


Sexual dimorphism in swine is more prominent at about one month of age of piglets. Puberty is attained at about 125 days of age.  The boar should be used for breeding for the first time at 7 – 8 months old.  Sperm numbers and semen volume in boars increase until 18 months of age.

Ejaculation characteristics
The sperm cells in one ejaculate of boars is between 20 – 50 millions.  Ejaculation could take between 5 – 10 minutes.  The ejaculate is divided into three phases which are:
  1. Pre-Sperm:- this prepares for passage and also acts as lubricant.  These only take about 3 minutes.
  2. Sperm-Containing – is high in sperm content and it takes about 2 – 3 minutes
  3. Post sperm has high gel content and its aid cervical plug during coitus in pigs.

Fertility checks in boars
Young boar that is intended for breeding should be checked through:
i.                    Test on several gilts.  Note that young boars may need help
ii.                  The animal (boar) can be taught how to use dummy if using AI.
iii.                Physical examination of boars before breeding include observation of general appearance of boars.  A good and fertile boar is active, alert and aggressive.  Soundness of feet and legs is a pointer to virility of boar.
iv.                Body condition score of boars should be checked.  Animals that are too fat or too thin should not be used for breeding.
v.                  Soreness in the testicles of boars may indicate infection.  Some semen of young boars can be collected and analyzed for sperm numbers, motility and any form of abnormalities.

Methods of mating in Swine
Mating in pigs can be through hand mating, pasture mating and artificial insemination.
i.                    Hand mating involves bringing the sow to boar.  Care must be taken not to make a large boar to small gilt.  This method is not as efficient as AI.
ii.                  Pasture mating involves running boar with females.  This method is characterized by inefficient use of boars.  It is hard on young boars.
iii.                Artificial insemination is the most efficient method.  One ejaculated can be extended to serve up to 15 sows.  This method is well favoured in commercial operations.

Gilt and Sow Reproductive Characteristics
Puberty is reached in female pigs at between 5 – 7 months of age.  Puberty in the females can be increased (made early) by the presence of boars, increased, body weight and group housing. The gilt should be exposed to breed at 8 months after the 2nd or 3rd estrus at first breeding should be between 100-115kg body weights.

Estrous Cycle
Estrous cycles in swine is 21 days.  The estrus is between 40 – 60 hours.  Ovulation is 38 – 42 hours after onset of estrus.  Ovulation rates can be increased by inbreeding, age at breeding (older sows have increased rate) and weight at breeding (increased weight increase ovulation rate).

Signs of estrus in sows and gilts
1.      The most definitive behavioural sign is standing to be mounted by the boar.
2.      Sows in estrus will often assume the rigid stance, called the lordosis reflex, when pressure is applied on the rump (“back pressure”) by the herdsman.
3.      The group-housed sow actively seeks out the boar.
4.      The vulva lips are swollen and red with a thin, mucous discharge.
5.      Other signs of estrus include: depressed appetite, restlessness, alertness, pacing, grunting, and chomping of the jaws.

Estrus detection
   Deficient estrus detection is the most important cause of infertility in breeding herds using hand-mating or artificial insemination (AI) systems.  Typically, sows are checked for estrus once a day and gilts twice a day.  In herds with estrus detection problems, heat checking sows twice a day is recommended.  Estrus detection can be improved by observing sow behaviour while the boar is given direct contact with the sow.

Refractory Sows
   Sows and gilts can become fatigued and refractory to board contact in less than one hour, even if they are on heat.  This is due in part to the extreme exertion (isometric contraction) associated with standing heat.  Thus, best estrus detection systems do not allow constant boar contact.  For estrus detection in the absence of a boar, response to the “back-pressure” test can be used.

Methods used in increasing Ovulation rate in Swine  
1.       Administration of Pregnant Mare’s Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG) followed by hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropic.  PMSG is given at day 15 – 16 of cycle while hCG is given at day 18 – 19.
2.       Flushing of Sows should be done.

Hormones involved in Reproduction in Swine
1.      Progesterone
2.      Estrogen
3.      Testosterone (androgen)
4.  Prostaglandin F (PGF2 α)

When to breed during estrus
It is recommended that sows/gilts should be bred two times during estrus.  The first breeding should be at late first day of estrus (especially for gilts) or early 2nd day of estrus (for sows). The second breeding should be at between 12 – 24hours at first breeding. If the farmer is going to breed only once during estrus; it is advisable that he should breed the second day of estrus.          

What is the difference between estrus and estrus cycle?
The estrous cycle is the cycle of a non-pregnant female Mammal that goes through a luteal phase and a follicular phase.  Estrus is the period in which an animal will stand to be bred, and is part of the follicular phase of the estrous cycle.

Conception Rate and Embryo Survival
Fertilization rate in Swine is about 90%.  The percentage of litter loss during gestation in pigs is about 5%.
40% of embryos are lost.  Most loss occurs in the first – half of pregnancy. Embryo loss can be as a result of over-feeding during pregnancy, excessively fat breeding sows or gilts, high body temperature, high body temperature, abortive diseases like brucellosis and leptospirosis heredity factors (lethal recessives), nutritionally incomplete rations and injuries.

Gestation and farrowing
Gestation length in Swine is 114 days.  Add enough bulk (wheat offal or maize bran) to the diet of sows 3 – 5 days pre-farrow. Farrowing mostly occur after sunset. The litter size is maximum at 4th or 5th parity.    At 8th parity, stillborn increases.

Performance targets and decision boundaries for reproductive efficiency in swine
Decision boundary
Farrowing rate (%)
Number of pigs born alive per litter (litter size)
Number of stillborn pigs per litter(%)
Number of mummified fetuses per litter(%)

  Signs of imminent farrowing
 When farrowing is imminent there are a number of signs to look out for. These includes:
1.                        Restlessness:-The soul or gilt will face up and down or circle round and round.
2.                        Nesting:-The soul or gilt will pull the bedding material into one area and create a nest.  They do this by carrying the bedding in their mouths and moving the straw with their feet
3.                        Milk production:-Just before farrowing, the son or gilts milk will be released.  The former can check this by squeezing the treats and if milk droplets come out then farrowing is close
4.                        The vulva becomes larger and reddens 
5.            Heavy breathing:-As farrowing begins the gilt or soul will start to blow and puff as it strains.


The design of housing facilities to meet commercial pig production objectives must be based on weather conditions, local prevailing practices, constraints on land, environmental considerations, governmental regulations, and costs. It is a mistake not to invest on high-quality housing designed by experienced engineers.

Dry sow accommodation
After weaning, a sow is moved to the dry sow accommodation. There are several ways of keeping dry sows and gilts.

1.          Outside in Paddocks
2.          General Purpose Pens
3.         Semi-Open Yards

Boar accommodation

A suitable boar pen should be sited close to the dry sow accommodation. When a sow comes on heat it is then easy to transfer her to the boar pen for service. The provision of a service crate in the pen enables a small sow or gilt to be served by a large boar.


Farrowing and rearing accommodation

The same pen can be used for both farrowing and rearing the piglets. The pens may be totally enclosed within a building or each pen may have its own outside yard.
Tha main features of farrowing pens are:
1.      A large enough area to accommodate the sow and ten piglets of up
to 20kg each.   Suitable dimensions are 300cm x 240cm.

2.      A creep area running down the length of the pen measuring 240 cm  x 75 cm.

3.      A galvanized iron rail, with a diameter of 5cm should be fixed 25 cm from the wall opposite the creep and 25 cm above the floor. This is to prevent the sow from crushing the piglets against the wall.

4.       Provision of food and water for the sow. Food and water for the piglets must be provided in the creep from 2-3 weeks.

Fattening pens

For small farmers the general purpose type of house is cheap and flexible. For the farmer with ten or more sows who wishes to fatten all the progeny, it is worth having a special fattening house with feeding and dunging passages. These houses may be totally or semi-enclosed. They usually consist of two lines of pens opposite each other with either a central feeding passage and lateral dunging passages or a central dunging passage and lateral feeding passages.
The floor space per pig is important. The floor space requirement increases as the pigs grow. This means that if the same pen is used for a given number of pigs from weaning to slaughter, it is likely to be too small during the last weeks.


Building Materials

Floor: Concrete floors are best in all of the buildings. The main reason for using concrete is to make the pens easy to clean out thus ensuring that the pigs are kept in hygienic conditions. A concrete floor is made of 6-8cm of concrete on top of 10cm of rammed hardcore.
Walls: The following materials may be used depending on the situation: concrete blocks, bricks, corrugated iron, timber (planks or poles) and iron rails. The strength of the walls is an important consideration. Sows and boars can exert considerable pressure when rubbing themselves against a wall, as they often do, and the structure must be able to withstand this.
Roof: The purpose of the roof in the tropics is to provide shade and to keep out rain.

Ventilation of buildings
The purpose of ventilation is to replace stale air with fresh air. In open and semi-open buildings, this takes place naturally. In fully enclosed buildings, especially when they are full of pigs during hot weather, ventilation must be provided artificially. Fully enclosed buildings are usually only used in those parts of the tropics where low temperatures occur at certain times of the year. At other times the temperature may be high. It is necessary to be able to control the ventilation according to the climatic conditions with windows.




Individual feeders for dry sows and gilts are recommended. If a group of sows are fed together, they will not all be able to eat equal quantities.  The dominant animals will eat more and the shy ones less.  Moreover, they may fight and injure each other. Feeding each animal in its own feeding stall prevents this and enables each one to be fed according to its requirements.   Individual feeders have to be strong and can be constructed of tubular steel.



Water can be given to pigs in their feeding troughs but it is better to allow them free access to fresh water at all time through a piped system using cup drinkers or nipple drinkers.
It is also advisable to provide water for young pigs which have started to eat creep feed. It can be provided in galvanised drinkers which are placed in the creep area next to the feed trough. Pigs will eat more creep feed if they have free access to water.


Weighing Scales

It is useful to have a scale for weighing young pigs at birth and at 3 weeks of age.



A few 10 litre buckets are essential for carrying small quantities of feed and disinfectants.


Veterinary Equipment

This includes teeth clippers for removing the eye teeth of young pigs, syringes for injecting iron, antibiotics, etc., and scalpels for castration.

Shower Equipment

A special stall with a shower enables pregnant sows to be washed thoroughly before entering their farrowing quarters. Portable showers are helpful for keeping pigs cool in excessively hot weather.


Cleaning Equipment

Keeping the pens clean is part of good management and the necessary equipment for this should be available - hand brushes, brooms, scrapers, buckets, hosepipe, etc.



Feed Store

Ground up feedstuffs should not be stored for longer than a few weeks. Feed that is stored too long will become stale and lose its palatability. Conditions in the feed store should be cool, dry and free from dust. It is also important to make it vermin proof. The building should therefore be well constructed with a concrete floor with a damp course, walls made with bricks or blocks, and a corrugated iron roof.
When stacking bags of feed, use a wooden frame to keep the bottom layer of bags off the floor and stack the bags well clear of the walls. This allows good air circulation and helps to prevent the feed becoming damp and lumpy.


Veterinary Store

A cupboard or chest of appropriate size should be reserved for the storage of veterinary equipment and medicines. This should be situated in a cool, dry place and kept locked. Put the cupboard up about 5 feet high, above the reach of young children.


Equipment Store

A separate room or area should be made available for the storage of equipment.



Health care is an important way of making sure that pigs stay productive. Every pig keeper should know how to recognise and, if possible, prevent and cure illnesses which can affect pigs.
It is always better to prevent disease than to let animals get ill and then try to treat them. Allowing pigs to get sick is expensive for several reasons: sick pigs stop growing and reproducing so money is lost with this decrease in production; some diseases result in the death of pigs; replacing the dead pigs is expensive; treatment for the ill pigs is usually expensive.



A good pig keeper takes time to look at his animals carefully every day. He is checking to see that they are healthy and are not showing any signs of disease. If anything is not quite right, he must recognize it early to prevent it from becoming more serious.   The signs farmers should look for are:


Skin and Hair

These should be sleek and glossy all over with no dull patches. The shedding of some hairs is normal, but there should be no abnormally bald areas. The skin should not have scurf (a lot of loose flakes of skin).



In breeds with curly tails, the tail should be neatly curled. If the tail hangs straight, it is often a sign of ill health.



The eyes should be bright with no discharge coming from them. The pig should appear alert.



Movement should be easy and free, not stiff. When resting, the pig should be relaxed and breathing evenly and quietly.



A normal appetite is a good sign. If an animal suddenly goes off its food, the cause should be investigated immediately. It could be an early sign of disease or it could be due to a sudden change in diet.



These should be normal in amount and appearance. Any signs of diarrhoea should be noted and the cause investigated.



The body of a healthy pig is generally rounded and well fleshed. It should not appear "bony" nor "pot-bellied".


Weight and Growth

Adult pigs should stay at about the same weight, though some sows may lose a little weight when they are suckling their young. Young pigs should grow to reach their mature weight, though it is important to realise that the rate of growth depends on inherited factors and partly on the level of feedings. So slow growth may not be due to ill health but poor feeding. However, loss of weight, or failure of young pigs to grow, accompanied by a dull skin and dropping tail, is probably caused by disease.



There should be no discharges from any part of the body including the eyes, nose, mouth, vulva, anus and teats.


Temperature and Pulse

The body temperature of a healthy pig is 39°C and the heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute.   These are not checked every day but only if a disease is suspected.



The following measures will help to prevent disease.

1.      Buy from a Reputable Breeder

Any new pigs bought in should come from a reputable breeder with a good record of health in his piggery.

2.      Quarantine Quarters

These should be established in a place separate from all other pigs. It is important that urine and water from washing the quarantine pens should not be allowed to drain into the water supply, so the quarantine quarters should be built away from and downhill of it. Each quarantine pen should be totally enclosed so that there can be no contact between pigs in adjacent pens. Pigs should also have no contact with wild animals, particularly birds and rats, as these can carry diseases.
The quarantine quarters should be used for:
a.          New Arrivals   These should be kept for four weeks in quarantine to make
sure they are free from disease.  Pigs returning to the piggery after a period
of absence (e.g. for showing or mating) should also spend four weeks in
b.          Pigs Suspected of Having a Disease If a disease which can spread from one
pig to another is suspected, the affected animals should be isolated in the
quarantine quarters.


Resistance to disease

All animals have a certain amount of built in resistance to disease. If this resistance is lowered in any way, the animal becomes more likely to catch a disease. There are many things which may lower the resistance to disease, some of which are due to bad housing and management, such as cold, wet, draughty conditions and poor feeding.
Pigs are particularly susceptible to stress which will also lower their resistance to disease. Pigs can be stressed by many things including changes in their routine, changes in food, bad weather, discomfort and overcrowding. The presence of one disease may also lower the resistance so that the animal gets another disease as well.


Action to take on the outbreak of disease

If the measures outlined in the sections on housing and feeding are taken, a serious outbreak of disease is unlikely. However, disease can occur in even the best managed piggeries and the pig keeper must be prepared to deal with it. Careful observation of his stock every day will enable him to detect signs of possible disease at an early stage.   Action may then be as follows:

                                         i.      Information

The first duty of the pigman on seeing a sick pig, if he is not the owner, is to advise the owner, manager or government officer in charge of the farm or district.

                                       ii.      Isolation

The sick pig or pigs should at once be moved to the quarantine area of the farm. This means that they should be kept in pens in a totally separate place from all other pigs (in the quarantine quarters). During the daily routine, the pigman should attend to the healthy pigs first, then go to treat the sick pigs in their isolation building. If possible he should wear different overalls when treating sick pigs, and leave them hanging up in the isolation building when he has finished.
Put a bucket of disinfectant near the pen. Anyone who has attended the sick pigs should wash their hands, arms and boots thoroughly in it after treating each sick

                                     iii.      Disinfection

The pens from which the sick pigs have been removed should now be cleaned thoroughly, along with the food and drinking vessels and any other equipment.

                                     iv.      Comfort

Now check back to the sick pigs and ensure that they have settled into their new pen, are comfortable, free from draughts and have ample food and clean water.

                                       v.      Observation

Make sure the sick pigs are kept under observation, note if they drink excessively, if they huddle for warmth or appear too hot, note if they start eating or stop eating.

                                     vi.      Diagnosis

Unless you are sure you know what is wrong, you may waste time and money on the wrong treatment. The problem may be obvious, such as wounding or heat stroke, and so immediate action can be taken. It is always best to consult the veterinarian when you are not sure

                                   vii.      Death

If the treatment fails and the animal dies, a post mortem is essential to find out why so that the rest of the pigs may be saved. Again a post mortem by a veterinarian is the best. The dead body will decompose fast in the tropics and so
must be put in a cold room if there is to be any delay, or the most experienced person available may undertake the job and try to preserve organs or blood and faeces samples for further testing in the laboratory.
After a post mortem is done, the body should be burned to make sure that any disease organisms which are in the pig's body cannot contaminate anything. Wear gloves to do a post mortem and burn them with the pig's body afterwards. Wash the knife thoroughly in disinfectant.


Pig diseases

Swine Fever (Hog Cholera)

Symptoms Affected pigs have a high temperature, go off their food, huddle together and become dull and depressed. A sticky yellowish discharge comes from the eyes and sometimes the nose. The skin develops red patches and the belly often turns purple. The end of the tail and the edges of the ears die, go black and may drop off. Pigs often start convulsions and die after seven days. Pregnant sows abort or produce dead or trembling weak piglets which are also infected with swine fever. Usually, pigs with chronic swine fever die after a few months.
Cause The virus which causes swine fever is easily spread to uninfected pigs in several ways:
a.          By direct contact with an infected pig.
b.          On clothes, vehicles, equipment, birds and flies.
The virus is killed by strong disinfectants and by boiling.
Prevention All new pigs should spend four weeks in quarantine before entering the piggery. If swill is fed to the pigs, it must be thoroughly boiled. If there is swine fever in the area, it is better to stop feeding swill completely.
Vaccines are available against swine fever in some countries. The local government veterinary or livestock officer should be contacted to find out which vaccine should be used and when.
If there is an outbreak of swine fever, the following should take place - the slaughter of affected pigs, quarantine of pigs which were in contact with the infected pigs, thorough cleaning and disinfection of ail buildings and equipment, boiling of clothes and the burning of all carcases.
The virus is very easily spread so as many precautions as possible should be taken.
Treatment There is no effective treatment. In some countries it is possible to obtain hyper-immune serum which can be given to uninfected pigs that have been in contact with infected pigs. This serum will give these pigs some protection against swine fever for a short time.


African Swine Fever

Symptoms The symptoms are very similar to hog cholera. Pigs with African swine fever often develop paralysis of the hind legs as well. Affected pigs usually die after 4-8 days.
Some pigs will survive the acute phase of the disease and develop chronic African swine fever. They have an intermittent high temperature with swollen joints. These pigs are very lame and lose weight. Sometimes they have difficulty breathing.   The pigs will die after 2-12 months.
Cause The virus which causes African swine fever is different from the virus of hog cholera.   It is very easily spread to uninfected pigs in several ways:
a.          By direct contact with infected pigs and warthogs which are symptomless
carriers of the disease.  Soft ticks that are found in the lairs and burrows of
these animals also carry the infection.  Thus in rural areas infection from a
wild source must always be considered possible.   The faeces, urine and
discharges from the nose and mouth contain many of these viruses.
b.         By eating infected pig meat and bones found in unboiled swill.
c.          From bites of infected ticks.
Prevention The virus is killed by boiling, so if swill is fed to pigs, it must be thoroughly boiled. If there is an outbreak of African swine fever in the area, it is safer to stop feeding swill.
Routine treatment against ticks (see Section 10.6.1 9} will help to prevent infection.
Wild pigs and warthogs also get African swine fever. A double fence all round the piggery will prevent contact with wild pigs.
If there is an outbreak of African swine fever, all affected pigs should be slaughtered and their carcases burned. The whole piggery should be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected (2% caustic soda solution is very effective) and left empty for 3-6 months.
Treatment There is none. All affected pigs should be slaughtered and their carcases burned.


Foot and Mouth Disease

Symptoms Foot and mouth disease in pigs is usually a mild disease but it can also be very severe.    It causes blisters and ulcers mainly on the feet, between the hooves and along the tops of the hooves (the coronets), and a few on the udder, snout and in the mouth. Affected pigs often have a high fever for the first few days, then go off their food. Because of the blisters and ulcers on their feet, these pigs will usually be lame, with hot swollen feet. They will spend a lot of time lying down. In very bad cases the hooves may fall off. Some five per cent of affected pigs will die.
Cause The disease is caused by a virus. It is very easily passed to other animals (especially cattle and sheep) in several ways:
a.          By direct contact with infected animals, both domestic and wild. Wild game
of many species, also carry the infection, often in a symptomless form.
b.          By contact with contaminated clothes, boots, buckets, equipment and pig
c.          By eating contaminated food or water. This food may be uncooked meat or
bones from an infected animal feed in the swill or food which has been
contaminated by being in contact with infected animals.
d.         By breathing contaminated air.  The air breathed out by an infected animal
contains many viruses which can be carried for up to 100km by the wind.
The liquid in the blisters on the feet, nose, mouth and udder contains many viruses. If a sample is sent to a foot and mouth reference laboratory, they can decide if it definitely is foot and mouth disease. A government livestock officer or veterinarian can do this.
Prevention Keep infected pigs indoors in the quarantine quarters. Wash you hands, all equipment, clothes, boots and pig pens thoroughly in disinfectant if they have been in contact with an infected animal. Put buckets of disinfectant at all the entrances to the piggery and make sure everyone washes their boots in it when they go into or out of the piggery.  The most effective disinfectants are:
formalin (10%) sodium carbonate (4%) citric acid (0.2%)
In some areas any affected animals are slaughtered and burned to prevent the infection from spreading. Any animals which have been in contact with diseased animals should be kept isolated in quarantine quarters.
Treatment In some countries it is compulsory for affected, and sometimes in-contact, animals to be slaughtered and burned. The local government veterinary officer must by contacted if there is any suspicion of foot and mouth disease.

As the economic consequences of an outbreak of this disease are so serious, it is usual not to attempt treatment but to carry out a slaughter or vaccination policy according to the laws of the country concerned.


Swine Vesicular Disease

Symptoms This disease is usually mild. If a pig has severe swine vesicular disease, the lesions look like foot and mouth disease, with blisters and ulcers on the feet, the snout and in the mouth. Sometimes blisters will appear on the legs. Pigs usually recover from this disease.
Cause A virus causes swine vesicular disease. It is spread to infected pigs in several ways:
a.          By direct contact with infected pigs.
b.         By eating infected pig meat in unboiled swill.
c.          On clothes, boots, buckets, equipment, etc.   The virus is killed by boiling
and by very strong alkaline disinfectants.
Prevention Isolate any infected pigs in the quarantine quarters and wash all equipment which has been in contact with the disease in strong alkaline disinfectant. In some countries slaughter of infected pigs and burning their carcases is compulsory. The local government veterinary officer should be asked for advice.
If swill is fed, it should be boiled.
Treatment There is none. Pigs usually recover from this disease without treatment.   If the blisters and ulcers are bad, treat with simple wound powder.
A complication of this disease is its similarity to foot and mouth disease. If there is any doubt, the local government veterinary officer should be contacted.


Vesicular Stomatitis

Symptoms In pigs this disease is usually mild but if it is severe, it looks like foot and mouth disease. Severely affected pigs have a high temperature, then develop blisters and ulcers on their mouths and feet. They usually recover in 3-4 days. The ulcers heal more quickly than with foot and mouth disease.
Cause The virus which causes vesicular stomatitis is spread to uninfected pigs by ticks and biting flies and through cuts and grazes on the skin.
Prevention Routine hygiene and the use of quarantine quarters for infected pigs and disinfectants will help to prevent this disease. There is a vaccine available but it is not often used.

Treatment   None is required.
A complication of this disease is its similarity to foot and mouth disease. If there is any doubt, the local government veterinary officer should be contacted.



Symptoms Erysipelas can affect pigs very suddenly (acute) or it can be a more long lasting illness (chronic).
a.          Acute   The pig will have a high temperature, go off its food and develop
dark red diamond shaped patches (3-5cms across) on its belly and sides,
and sometimes on its neck and ears. It will be very depressed and may have
a discharge coming from its eyes. After 2-3 days it may start vomiting and
have diarrhoea.   25-75 per cent of pigs with acute erysipelas will die after
2-4 days of illness.
b.          Chronic   Erysipelas effects pigs in three ways:
i.       The heart becomes damaged inside making it difficult for the pig to get up and walk.
ii. The joints become hot, swollen and painful, so the pig is very lame and prefers to stand still or lie down. After 2-3 weeks the pain goes but the joints are still swollen and stiff making the pig move with a stiff stilted walk.
iii. The skin develops the dark diamond shaped patches as in acute erysipelas. These patches swell up and the affected skin drops off. Several adjacent patches can join together leaving a large raw area which goes dark purple and then dries hard and black. The edges curl up exposing raw skin underneath which is very likely to be infected by other bacteria.
Cause Bacteria called erysipelothrix cause erysipelas in pigs and can also infect birds, sheep, cattle and humans. It can live in the soil and is often carried by birds. It is killed by boiling or disinfectants used at twice their normal strength, or 14 days direct exposure to sunlight.
Prevention The usual hygienic measures will help to reduce the risk of infection but even the best piggeries can still get erysipelas. Pigs which are properly cared for will be more likely to survive if they do get erysipelas. Vaccines are available.

Treatment   Isolate affected pigs in the quarantine pens, as in Section 10.5.
a.          Acute Erysipelas:   Daily injections of 2,000 - 4,000 units penicillin per kg
body weight.   If the pig is very ill, 20-30 ml hyperimmune serum can be
given once.
b.          Chronic Erysipelas: It is not possible to cure this. Affected pigs lose weight
and condition rapidly.   Various proprietory steroids given by a veterinary
officer may help to make the pig feel better but will not cure it.



Symptoms   Saimonellosis can affect pigs in three ways:
a.          Acute   Salmonellosis usually affects young pigs 1-14 days old, but it can
occur at 2 days to 4 months old.  Affected piglets have a high temperature,
go off their food and are dull and ill.   Their faeces go grey with mucoid
streaks and the skin of their ears and bellies often goes purple.  The piglets
start wandering and shaking, sometimes becoming paralysed and have
convulsions.  They die after 1 - 7 days.
b.          Enteric   Saimonellosis is less acute and usually affects adult pigs.   They
have a high temperature for a day, go off their food, then develop a watery
diarrhoea  with   blood  clots.     Often   pneumonia  develops with  difficult
breathing and coughing.   Some pigs die after 1-5 days.
c.          Carriers of saimonellosis show no symptoms but can transmit the infection
to other pigs, humans and other animals.    These pigs often remain as
carriers for life.
Cause Bacteria called salmonella cause saimonellosis. These bacteria can be transmitted in dirty water, feed, pasture and faeces of infected pigs or other animals.
A pig's resistance to disease, particularly to saimonellosis, is reduced by stress (eg. poor feeding, lack of water, worms, discomfort, overcrowding) and by the presence of other disease, eg. swine fever. Saimonellosis often complicates swine fever.
If saimonellosis is suspected, a sample of faeces and a blood sample should be sent to the laboratory.
Saimonellosis is killed by sunlight, drying, high temperatures and some strong disinfectants, but it survives for months in faeces, soil, water and pasture, it is also carried by wild animals and humans.
Prevention of saimonellosis is important as the disease is easily spread to man, particularly by infected sausage meat and contamination. Thorough hygiene, clean

fresh water, clean food, good husbandry and avoidance of stress will help to prevent salmonellosis. Any new pigs should be in the quarantine quarters for the first month. Any animals suspected of having salmonellosis should be culled. A stool sample should also be taken from the pigman.
Antibiotics in the food can be used to prevent salmonellosis but this is only practical in the larger piggeries.
Treatment of salmonellosis is not recommended as treated pigs will become carriers and infect other animals, it is safer to kill pigs which have salmonellosis and any which are suspected of having it. Do not eat the meat of these pigs, but burn their carcases.
Strict hygiene is most important.



Symptoms A sow with mastitis has a hot swollen udder which sometimes develops hard areas. In very bad cases, the sow will stop producing milk. She will have a high temperature and will often go off her food. She will be less interested in her piglets and will not allow them to suckle so the piglets will become hungry and restless.
If the mastitis is not treated, the sow will probably die.
Cause Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the udder. Damage to the udder by piglets' teeth or abrasion from lying on a rough floor without enough bedding can result in mastitis. If the sow is also living in dirty conditions, her udder is likely to get infected from the dirty floor or from flies carrying infection.
Prevention A thorough hygiene routine and plenty of clean bedding for sows, especially from just before farrowing until the piglets are weaned, will help to prevent mastitis. Clipping the piglets' teeth soon after birth will stop them from damaging the sow's teats.
Treatment Mastitis will usually respond to treatment with antibiotics or the sulpha drugs.   The choice is wide and a veterinary surgeon should be consulted.
If there are any open sores on the sow's udder, these should be bathed in dilute antiseptic solution or salty water (1 teaspoon salt in 500ml clean water) and then covered in antiseptic powder at least twice daily. Thoroughly clean the sow's pen and make a deep clean bed for her to prevent any more infection or damage to her udder.   If the piglets' teeth are not already clipped, clip them.
To avoid transferring the infection to other sows, it is important to keep a sow with mastitis in the quarantine quarters and observe the usual hygienic precautions.


Symptoms The symptoms of brucellosis in pigs are very varied. The disease rarely effects piglets before weaning but any pig over weaning age is susceptible. It is usually a long lasting (chronic) disease in pigs, some showing no symptoms at all. Affected pigs do not have a high temperature but may show one or more of the following symptoms:
a.          Lameness, lack of coordination, paralysis of the hind legs, swollen joints,
particularly in young pigs.
b.          Abortion, either in late pregnancy or early pregnancy, when the actual
abortion is often unnoticed but the sow comes into oestrus (season) again
4-8 weeks after mating.
c.          The birth of small litters, weak piglets (which often die before weaning) or
stillbirths (piglets born dead).
d.          Infertility and sterility.
e.          Orchitis - sore, inflamed, swollen testicles of boars.
Cause Bruceila suis causes brucellosis in pigs and can also infect man. It is a very resistant bacteria and can live for 6 weeks on the ground. The bacteria can enter the body at mating or through damaged skin or by pigs eating infected meat, milk, contaminated food or water. The genital discharges, urine and faeces of an infected pig contain many bruceila bacteria and can easily contaminate food and water which will spread the infection to other pigs and possibly to man. The disease is often brought into a piggery by an infected boar.
To confirm a diagnosis of brucellosis, blood samples from pigs should be sent to a laboratory. The symptoms of brucellosis in man are an undulant fever (like malaria) and arthritis (stiff aching joints). If pigmen develop these symptoms, brucellosis in the pigs should be suspected.
Prevention Hygiene is very important. Burn aborted piglets and their afterbirths, dead piglets, contaminated bedding, feed, and anything which has been in contact with infected pigs to prevent the disease spreading to other animals. Thoroughly scrub and disinfect the pig pen and any other contaminated equipment. All new pigs should be bought from piggeries that do not have brucellosis.
As the infection is often transmitted by infected boars, it is dangerous to use community boars or to borrow boars for mating unless they are free of brucellosis.
There are vaccines against brucellosis but none are totally effective in pigs. The local government veterinary officer should be asked for up to date advice.

Treatment There is no treatment. As the disease is so infectious and transmissible to man and dogs, infected pigs should be slaughtered and their carcases burned. Do not eat the meat of a pig with brucellosis. Any pigs which have been in contact with a pig with brucellosis should be kept in quarantine and blood tested to prevent the disease from spreading to all the pigs.



Symptoms This disease is commonly associated with the presence of rats and other vermin. Pigs with leptospirosis often show no symptoms but still excrete the bacteria and so can spread the infection to other pigs and to man. If symptoms are shown, they will be any of the following:
a.          Abortion storms - many pregnant sows aborting.
b.         Stillbirths and deaths of piglets soon after birth.
c.          An increase in the number of sows coming back into season after mating
(returning to service).
d.         Cataracts - a grey to white area in the centre of the eye.
Leptospirosis is diagnosed by sending samples of blood and urine to a laboratory.
Cause Leptospira bacteria cause this disease and are excreted in the urine and saliva of infected pigs.   The disease is spread:
a.          By ingesting food, water or soil contaminated by other pigs or vermin.
b.          By direct contact at mating or by biting.
c.          From an infected sow to the unborn piglets inside her.
d.          By flies and ticks carrying the bacteria from an infected pig or infected urine.
Prevention is very important as this disease is transmissible to men, dogs and many other animals. Rats and other wild animals carry leptospirosis so keep the piggery free of wild animals. It is possible to vaccinate pigs against leptospirosis. The local government veterinary or livestock officer should be asked for advice.
Treatment The most useful antibiotic is streptomycin. For acute leptospirosis the dose is 25mg/kg body weight daily for three days by intramuscular injection. Chronic cases of leptospirosis can be cured by a single injection of 25mg/kg body weight.   Chlortetracycline or oxytetracycline are also used.
Infected pigs should be kept in quarantine until they stop excreting the bacteria in their urine which may be some months after they appear to have recovered. This will help to prevent the infection from spreading.



Symptoms A pig with anthrax develops a high temperature, small skin haemorrhages (bleeding points), redness inside the mouth and such a swollen throat that it is difficult for it to breathe. Sometimes the pig will have dark bloody diarrhoea. Death occurs after 2-3 days in most cases. Some pigs survive for 7 days often with pneumonia. At death there are bloody discharges coming from the nose, mouth, anus and vulva or penis. This blood is very infectious so the carcase of an infected animal must not be cut open.
Cause Bacillus anthracis causes anthrax and is found in large numbers in the blood of an infected animal. When the animal dies, highly infectious blood seeps out onto the soil around the carcase where the bacterial for spores which can remain infective for 10-20 years.   They are then very resistant to disinfectants.
This disease can affect man and many other animals.
Prevention Animals which have died from anthrax should be burned or buried in quick lime 2 metres deep. Keep uninfected animals away from the area where infected animals lay for at least six months and treat the area with quick lime.
Vaccine is available and pigs can be vaccinated against anthra


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