Sarcoptic Mange (scabies) is a very common disease of pigs. It is caused by the mite sarcoptes scabiei var suis. Most pigs pick it up at a young age from their mums or littermates. It can make for quite the itchy pig and you might also notice crusty, red skin most prominent around the ears, face, belly and legs. Mites can last for a small amount of time off the pig so there is the possibility of picking it up from the environment. It can also be transmitted to humans.
It is however an easy disease to treat and can be eradicated quite easily from a small sounder or single swine. We treat sarcoptic mange with an ivermectin dewormer that also tackles mites. Secondary bacterial infection can occur (especially in younger pigs) so a trip to the vet is recommended if you suspect sarcoptic mange. Skin scrapings can confirm a diagnosis, however the clinical signs are normally quite suggestive.
One of the most common questions asked by pot-bellied pig owners is why should I spay my pig? Spaying your pig helps prevent behavioural issues associated with going through heat and also prevents uterine and ovarian disease in later life. Preventative medicine is just another approach to keeping your pig healthy.
A pig spay surgery is similar to a dog or cat spay however there are slight differences in surgical approach and anaesthetic concerns. The ideal age for spaying a pig is between 4 and 6 months of age.
When neutering male pigs, the earlier the better. When neutered early you reduce surgical risk, eliminate the necessity of a general anaesthetic, reduce the rate of tusk growth in later life and you also curb behavioural tendencies associated with entire boars.
Ideally we would neuter male pigs before 8 weeks of age, however it can be carried out at any age but protocol used depends on weight and age.
A pig’s hooves can easily become overgrown if they do not get enough exercise on an abrasive surface in order to wear them down. Overgrown hooves can put abnormal pressures on joints within the distal limb and cause earlier-onset arthritis and lameness. Regular hoof trims are a good idea if your pigs hooves tend to become overgrown. Regular handling of your pigs feet can make for a less stressful experience and much easier trimming.
Both male and female pigs have tusks. A male’s tusks grow at a much more rapid rate, especially under the influence of hormones if not castrated. These tusks can be dangerous even in the nicest of pigs. They can also in some cases cause malocclusion by growing in an abnormal direction or position. Tusk trims may be necessary if such a situation arises.