Pigs 101: Basic Veterinary Care

  1. CathleenVought
    When you\'re starting with pigs, it can seem like there\'s a whole world of information out there you need to learn quickly. This simple guide will give you the basics of veterinary or health care in pigs:
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    Basic Maintenance
    Keep an eye out daily for physical or behavioral changes. If the pig has a reduced or lost appetite, weakness, staggering, breathing issues, abscesses or changes in the skin, or a high or low temperature are a good sign that you should call the vet.

    Beyond concerns such as these, you\'ll learn how to take care of basic items on your own, such as hoof trimming on an average of every two months and males needing their bottom tusks trimmed back every 4-6 months on average. Keep in mind that these time frames are averages only and will depend on how quickly or slowly these areas grow.

    Vaccines
    There are a number of vaccines available for pigs, with what you need depending on your area. Do a search for your state\'s veterinary website or county extension service and you\'ll find recommendations for your area. Among common vaccines are: rhinitis or bordetella, erysipelas, mycoplasma, general pneumonia, circovirus, mycoplasma pneumonia, actinobacillus pleropneumonia, Glasser\'s disease and polyserositis

    Parasites
    Internal parasites are what we typically think of in livestock. Pigs particularly are susceptible to large roundworms, whipworms, nodular worms, threadworms, kidneyworms and lungworms. These can be treated using ivermectin, fenbendazole, pyrantel or levamisole. Be sure to rotate through different dewormers to prevent resistant parasites.

    External parasites include lice and mange, both insects. They typically respond well to deworming chemicals such as ivermectin, or you can use a smothering method by applying oil to the skin or a variety of sprays or powders from a farm store. Some varieties of mange are highly contagious to other mammals, including humans, so be sure to wear gloves and keep sanitation in mind when treating your pig.

    Common Diseases or Health Concerns

    As with any livestock, the pig\'s health is vital to its well being. Sound hooves, trimmed tusks, good feed, clear water and healthy living conditions provide a great start.

    Like people, pigs can suffer from respiratory infections such as the flu, colds or pneumonia. Pale-skinned breeds are succeptible to skin cancers and should be allowed to wallow in mud during high sunlight times to protect against sunburn. Because they don\'t sweat, heat exhaustion can be an issue with pigs.

    Image courtesy of Luis Gozalbez.

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