Pig International - July/August 2017 - 35
PigInternational ❙ 35
may lead to pneumonia, and the characteristic "thumping" noise when breathing is due to fluids in the lungs.
Post-mortem examination of anemic pigs reveals a dilated
heart with excess pericardial fluid. Furthermore, the lungs
The assessment of iron deficiency (or the success of its
treatment) is done by measuring blood hemoglobin and/
or blood hematocrit (packed cell volume, PCV). Normal
hemoglobin values are between 110 and 120 g/liter, but
numbers may be highly variable (85 to 135 g/liter). It is
suggested values less than 25 percent of normal should be
considered as risk of anemia, whereas below 50 percent
should be classified clearly as severe anemia.
Modern methods for treating piglet anemia can be
classified as those administering iron via the oral route or
via intramuscular injections. Each method has its benefits
■ Creep feed. Providing high levels of iron through creep
feed is not recommended because piglets usually do not
consume enough creep feed early enough to prevent anemia. In addition, some piglets might consume excess feed,
resulting in iron oversupply that can lead to colibacillosis
Denise P. Lett | Dreamstime.com
The most obvious treatment to piglet anemia has been
to provide them access to soil. In modern facilities, this
translates to providing soil in the farrowing crates in small
containers, or the typical lock-down feeders (usually found
as a red round plastic plate) used for providing creep feed.
This method has several problems, the least of which is a
variable intake of soil and thus non-uniform treatment of
anemia. Furthermore, it is labor intensive, requiring daily
replenishing of soil. Worst of all is the problem of parasites and diseases that can be transferred through the soil
to piglets, something that can be partially alleviated by
sterilization of the soil, but to the detriment of increasing
the cost of treatment. This method is now followed by few,
if any, smaller farms.
Another method of providing iron to newborn piglets
has been covering the sow's udder with a semi-fluid paste
of ferrous salt. This is created by mixing 1 kg of a soluble
iron salt (such as ferrous sulfate) with 2 liters of hot water.
The ensuing mix is rubbed daily on the sow's udder using a large brush or cloth swab. Again, this is a very labor
intensive procedure requiring attention to ensure sufficient
coverage of the udder. This method is used only infrequently and only when other more modern methods are
not available or not desired.
Pigs raised outdoors never develop anemia because they come into contact with soil, which has an abundant
source of iron.
July/August 2017 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com