Pig International - November 2017 - 6
6 ❙ PigInternational
GASTRIC ULCERS IN PIGS
Environmental conditions can also
affect the prevalence of ulcers: for
example, poor temperature control.
Anything that means pigs cannot
eat or drink when they want to has a
big impact on the incidence of ulcers.
Ulcers can happen during
outbreaks of swine fever or erysipelas due to bacterial septicemia. It is
also well-documented that when a
herd develops pneumonia the cases
of gastric ulceration will increase.
"Many disease outbreaks involve a
previous period of inappetence," Fran
explained. "For this reason we often
secondary infections or underlying
disease. An assessment of likely recovery should be made, and seriously
ill animals may need to be culled.
"The most important thing is to
tempt the pigs with feed," detailed
Fran. "A high-quality, nutrient-rich,
highly digestible diet should be offered. Weaner diets may be suitable,
but the most important thing is that it
has a large particle size." He went on to
describe how he has fed vegetables to
stud boars and pet animals, where an
individual diet is possible. Some professionals have advised increased dietary
Learn more: Higher efﬁciency in pig
performance with gut agility,
see an increase animals diagnosed
with gastric ulcers following a disease
challenge." Herds with cases of PCV2
and PRRS are also likely to have more
issues with ulcers. In the case of sows,
the majority of cases will be limited to
individuals and similarly often follow
a period of illness.
There are no licensed treatments
for gastric ulcers in pigs; however,
for horses, drugs are available for
both the treatment and prevention.
Veterinary practitioners therefore can
only recommend supplementary care
for the affected animals. If possible,
sick pigs should be removed from the
herd and placed into a hospital pen.
Antibiotics may be prescribed for any
supplementation with vitamin E as well
as intramuscular injections of vitamins
and iron to counter blood loss and
support the immune system. Even for
sows, a diet high in milk products can
be beneficial for recovery.
It has been observed that increased incidence of gastric ulcers
can be concurrent with an outbreak
of vices, for example tail biting. "It's
unclear as to whether ulcers are the
primary or secondary factor," stated
Fran. "I believe it's likely that both
are a symptom of stress in the herd,
be that from nutrition, management
or disease." It is therefore essential
for producers to monitor changes in
both pig health and behavior.
Sudden death resulting from
hemorrhage can occur; the
animals appear very pale.
| B&M CVP
Research coming out of the U.S.
suggests that even if animals are
not presenting with symptoms of
ulcers their performance could be affected. "For every pale pig you see,
there are bound to be many more with
sub-clinical levels of ulceration," Fran
observed. "However, these animals
are still suffering." The data suggests
that even low-grade ulceration has a
significant effect on feed intake, feed
efficiency and daily gain.
It is important for producers to
monitor the incidence of ulcers in
their herd. Not only to prevent loss of
animals but also to ameliorate the effect on performance. Particular attention should be paid to the particle size
of the diet, but increased incidence
may also be linked to management
strategies. Reducing stress in pigs is
paramount for optimum production,
not least in the case of ulcers. ■
Zoe Kay is an independent
consultant providing technical
services to the animal health and
nutrition industry. She can be
reached at cuckooconsulting@
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ November/December 2017