Sunday, July 1, 2018

Diarrhea In Mini Pigs

Diarrhea is a condition in which feces are discharged from the bowels frequently and in a liquid form.
E. coli is the most common cause of piglet diarrhea identified by diagnostic laboratories and veterinary practitioners.

E. coli also produces enterotoxins that affect the intestines of pigs causing a secretory diarrhea. These enterotoxins can cause significant death loss and are responsible for most of the pathogenic problems associated with E. coli diarrhea.

Scours, or diarrhea, are the excretion of feces containing excess fluid. There can be a variety of causes, and therefore a multifaceted approach to prevention is necessary. Piglets are particularly vulnerable to scours as their digestive system is still immature and an upset is more easily triggered. 

New born piglets will have a dark stool to start with. This is the old stuff from before they were born that must come out. At about three days it will be more yellow. This also is normal. What you don't want to see is a clear liquid stool (more felt than seen). This is why we run our hand over the butt every day to make sure it is dry. Nothing will kill a baby pig any quicker than bad diarrhea. They dehydrate quickly and by feeding more you are feeding the E. coli which produces the diarrhea. For now just know that if that diarrhea starts, get to a vet for an antibiotic as soon as possible.

It is essential that the newborn piglets drink sufficient colostrum soon after birth to prevent potentially pathogenic organisms multiplying against the intestinal wall and causing diarrhea. It is also essential that the piglet continues to drink milk regularly after the colostrum has gone so that its intestines continue to be lined by protective antibodies.

Ideally the piglet should be left with mom to avoid any problems. Antibodies from the sow in the form of colostrum are important in preventing scours. Therefore, ensuring that all piglets are suckling well in the first three days of life is very important. Those taken away for whatever reason should be fed a proprietary sows milk replacer. This can be bought from most animal health stores. An alternative is to use a goats (kid) milk replacer. Cows milk is not ideal for a new born piglet as it will find it difficult to digest.

You warm it just as you would for a baby. A baby pig won't take much at one time so they need to be fed often when very young. (By very young we mean a few days up to a week.) At a week old they can do quite well on a feeding of every 3 or 4 hours during the day. At one week you no longer need to be fed through the night, make the last feeding around midnight and the first feeding at about 7 or 8 am. It's important to make the formula as close to the same each time as possible. Also to make sure all utensils are clean along with the dish you give it in.

Most replacer milks tell you that it is only good made up for 12 hours. Pay attention as old formula can cause you a problem. You should never change formulas as this can cause diarrhea which can take a piglet down very quickly.

Start adding Gerber's rice baby cereal at about three days, making it very liquid at first then gradually increasing the cereal as you go along. At about two weeks it will be a more of a paste. (At that time we also offer just a little water during the day.) The cereal not only gives them more nutrition, but it also keeps the chance of diarrhea down.

Baby pigs don't need an iron shot. Sometimes the iron shot can set off the diarrhea that we are trying to avoid. It is true that all baby pigs are born anemic and they do not get iron from the mother. There is a natural way to give this to them that is much safer and better for them.

Baby pigs born outside don't need iron as they get it from the dirt as they go along. If you supply a flat cookie sheet of clean dirt (dirt that has not had pigs on it) then he will walk through it and snuffle it and get his own iron from it. If it has tufts of grass in it, all the better as he will enjoy rooting them around the pan. The less you put into this baby that isn't necessary the better off he will be. No extras till he hits an age that is safe.

While is it important to get piglets eating feed, it must be remembered that their digestive systems are immature and better suited to consuming milk. Diets should contain easily-digestible ingredients, and changes to the composition should be minimized. Undigested feed in the gut creates a breeding ground for pathogens, particularly E. coli.

Treatment: Antibiotics (preferably liquid from your vet), Provide electrolytes (Pedialyte)in drinkers. These prevent dehydration and maintain body electrolyte balances. Keep piglets warm...the ideal temperature is 90 degrees.

Whatever you do if you change formulas...DO IT mixing them together little by little till you have the piglet switched.

Another suggestion is the old stand by with us. Make the formula a little thicker and weaker. Add a little more water than the formula calls for when you mix it and then add Gerber's Rice Baby Cereal. The rice cereal seems to do wonders for firming up stools.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pet Pig First Aid Kit

 As pig owners we need to be ready for an emergency with our pig(s) as they are known for getting sick or hurt on weekends and holidays. Always keep your veterinarian’s phone number and poison control in easy reach. They should be the first ones that you call.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is your best resource for any poison-related emergency, 24/7, 365. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call 888.426.4435. A $65 per case fee may apply.

NOTE - check with poison control BEFORE you administer charcoal or induce vomiting. Some poisons are corrosive and will cause more damage to the esophagus with vomiting. Also, caustic substances when aspirated into lungs may cause further damage. Do not induce vomiting if pig is unconscious or convulsing.

A first aid kit is good thing to keep on hand and change it out every year or 2 with fresh items.

Animal Rectal Thermometer - For Pig Only (normal temp is 98-101)
Petroleum or K-Y Jelly: for easy insertion of thermometer
Antibiotics (Ampicillin 500mg or Amoxicillin 500mg)
Antibiotics - Injectable (Pen-Aqueous Sterile Penicillin G Procaine and Liquamycin LA-200)

PENICILLIN G PROCAINE AQUEOUS SUSPENSION is an injectable antibiotic for the treatment of cattle and sheep for bacterial pneumonia (shipping fever) caused by Pasteurella multocida; swine for erysipelas caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae (insidiosa); and horses for strangles caused by Streptococcus equi.

LA-200 is a long-lasting, broad-spectrum antibiotic containing 200 mg oxytetracycline per ml. LA-200 is effective in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including pinkeye, footrot and pneumonia.

Disposable needles (18 or 20 gauge) & Syringe
Ensure / Pedialyte - Dehydration
Canned Pumpkin - Constipation
Styptic Stick / Blood Stop Powder (Corn starch if necessary)
Benadryl Chewables (Allergic reactions/other itchy stuff caused by something other than usual itchy pig.)
Pepto Bismol tablet - liquid can end up all over things for upset tummy's
Ascriptin (coated aspirin) or Baby aspirin

Antiseptic: spray bottle for large areas
Triple Antibiotic ointment : prevent infections
Betadine Solution: topical anti-microbial
Bandages: Assorted sizes - sterile gauze squares, adhesive tape
Hydrocortisone Cream:  to relieve itching
Baking Soda: insect stings, rashes, itching
Swat: keeps insects away from wounds
Cotton Tipped Swabs: for applying topical ointments
Bulb syringe or plastic syringes (with tubing): for administering medications
Hollow handle medicine spoon: for administering liquid medicines
Zip-Lock Bags, or other clean containers: for collecting samples of
vomit, feces, or urine for poison analysis.
Precision Tweezers: for removing debris from wounds and splinters
Scissors, Sterile Latex Gloves

Check with vet or Poison Control before using:
Activated Charcoal: to absorb ingested toxins/poisons
Syrup of Ipecac:  to induce vomiting
Hydrogen Peroxide: to induce vomiting

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mushrooms - Are They Safe For My Pig?

Hello again Miss Dottie may I ask your opinion on something again please? We have some wild mushrooms pop up in our back yard from time to time and I'm always on the look out for them as I don't know any thing about them being poisonous or not and worry I might miss one and Diesel eats it. Have you ever come across this before?

It's one of those questions that you might get different answers on, but I believe that mother nature has given our pigs the good sense to know the good or safe mushrooms from bad or poisonous ones. They are pigs after all. They eat to live and love to eat.

Where I live here in central FL we get the garden variety mushroom that pops up now and then and none of my pigs bother with them (see picture above). In fact I have watched them eat around them.  I have also lived in the beautiful mountains of Idaho where several varieties of mushrooms grew. Some were for eating (morel mushrooms) and some not. Again, my pigs didn't want anything to do with any variety...good thing we never went truffle hunting.

Mushrooms from the store are fine, and the pigs here prefer either the ones from a can or that the fresh ones be cooked either in water, olive oil, or butter! They don't like them raw. Who said pigs aren't picky eaters.

There is no reason to panic when mushrooms pop up in your yard, our pigs instinctively know to stay away from the poisonous ones. However, if you feel better checking your yard for mushrooms before your pig goes out please do. Remember these pigs have survived on their own for MANY years in the wild without our help. I am a firm believer that mother nature has instilled in them which plants are safe and which aren't...which mushrooms are safe to eat and which are poisonous.

Are wild mushrooms safe for pigs is the question on one forum. There is a man the comes around and picks them all, dries them and sends them to Italy as presents for his family. Two of the answers are: I've found with our Kunes, they seem to be very careful about what they eat - they seem to know not to touch bluebells or foxgloves for example. I'm guessing if this guy is picking them, then they'll be OK unless he's fallen out with his family. 😉 Another reply; we have a lot of wild mushrooms here and the pigs aren't ill.

Pigs know what to eat in their foraging. It is a very hungry pig who will eat any wild food that is unsafe.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Grass and Grazing for the Pet Pig

Do Our Pigs Need Grass? It depends on the type of grass, but they should be allowed to graze and root around in the yard. Grazing is not a luxury, but a necessity for good health. Our pigs should be allowed the opportunity to root in the soil and graze in the yard. Grazing keeps digestion working, keeps the immune system healthy and provides nutrition that they do not get in feeds.

Below is Porky grazing in the yard. There isn't much grass, but he is up and about a good part of the day finding weeds, roots, acorns depending on the time of year and I"m sure some bugs.

Grazing occupies about a third of the pig's day, providing  great emotional satisfaction as well as nutrition. The experts say that pigs seldom root if there is adequate grazing area...there are a few here that root no matter what. A yard that is just dirt will get rooted as they search for roots underground. Pigs know what they need to be healthy. They will seek it out and won't eat dangerous toxic weeds or roots unless starving. On a warm spring day they will graze and then sprawl out to enjoy the sun.  

Have you ever found chewed up clumps of grass in the yard? Presumably, the pigs are taking big mouthfuls of grass, chewing them to extract the soluble nutrients, and then spitting out the fibrous remains. Pretty interesting if you ask me, but does it tell us anything useful about swine nutrition?

Why are the pigs spitting out the grass instead of swallowing it? Obviously, we can't ask them, so here's a guess: The pigs have a finite amount of stomach and intestinal space. The only way they can extract nutrition from the fibrous parts of the grass is to let it get through their digestive tract and into their large intestine, where microorganisms can go to work on breaking down the cellulose, pectins, etc. They're not particularly efficient at extracting the energy from the fiber, and thus are better served by ingesting more digestible material. By grinding the plant matter in their mouths, they extract the easily digestible juices, then spit out the hard to digest parts. Of course, I don't think they make this a conscious calculation, but rather rely on instinct.

While our pigs will eat just about anything, but they still have preferences. They know what to eat in their foraging. It is a very hungry pig who will eat any wild food that is unsafe. Nor do pigs generally overeat to the point of it being a problem. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fencing For The Pet Pig

Fencing is a must if you are going to have a pig for a pet. It will give your pig a place to be a pig - to run around, root and potty. It keeps your pig from wandering off and strange animals from coming in your yard. I don't care how many acres you have you need to have a fenced area for your pig. A pen is okay, but still should be inside of a fenced area. A pen is not a safe place when you aren't home. If you are going to be gone for the day or only a few hours the safest place for your pig is inside the house.

Types of Fencing

If you have full-time outside pigs good, no great fencing is a must as these pigs are outside 24/7. The best pen fencing is hog or cattle panels. They are 16 foot long and either 3 or 4 foot high depending on which you get. They are too heavy for the pigs to lift and difficult for dogs to climb. We have used this for inside the yard only...never to fence the property.

Below are pictures of Porky's pen. It is made with hog panels on 3 sides, the back is 4 board fencing with field fence on the backside. You can do this yourself as long as you have the right tools. I put fence posts at the corners, tall T-posts every 8ft and smaller T-posts in the middle as you can see for extra reinforcement.

Horse or board fencing is pleasing to look at, but should have at least 3 to 4 boards and wire fencing behind it as you don't want dogs crawling through it or trying to dig under it.This is good for property fencing. This what I currently have fencing the property and works well. Turtles seem to be the only animals digging under it.

Field fence or woven wire fence is fair. It is best with a board at the bottom to keep animals from digging underneath it. Must be put up correctly. When pens had to be added they put up field fence with a board across the top. I added the 2 bottom ones so pigs would have support if they leaned up against it.

Chain link will not hold a pig...dogs can dig under it or climb over it.

In our opinion property fencing is a must if you are going to have a pig for a pet. It can be the whole yard or just part of it, but fence an area off. DO NOT trust that just because you have lots of acreage that the pig will not leave and strangers will not trespass. If you are not going to be home put your babies back inside where they are safe while you are gone.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Tips for Your Outside Pet Pig

It's winter out and you want to know how to keep your pig warm and safe from the elements. The outside pig needs a shelter out of the elements.


If you have pigs outside for the winter there are things you can do to ensure they are warm and well. Insulate their house. This can be done with sheets of insulation between ply boards, or placing bales of hay around the outside of their house. We have also placed them on the top to help keep the heat in. Houses should be full of straw, a natural insulator, not breaks up easily. Try to NOT use blankets in the wintertime. They become wet and soggy from the pig going in with a wet belly and can cause problems. You will need to change/add straw often.

Placing a sack-cloth, moving blanket, rug, or similar over the entrance is a must in the winter. This can be lowered over the entrance way at night, and will prevent loss of heat or drafts. This is key to ensuring your pigs don't catch pneumonia in the winter months. Make sure the entrance is facing away from the prevailing wind. The last thing you want is for rain, sleet, or snow to blow through the doorway and into your pigs sleeping area.

We are not fans of heat lamps as there reports of fires each year. Usually with good insulation; lots of straw they will be fine. If you want something extra for really cold nights and older pigs we have used heat mats successfully here.

The brand is Stanfield and they can be found at either eNasco or QC Supply

The mats are screwed on to a sheet of ply board. That is then put on the rubber horse mat that is their floor so that they are not directly on the cold ground. We then put straw on top of the mats. The mats are plugged into a control that is needed to regulate the temperature of the mats. The highest setting we used all winter was 3. This kept their bellies warm and the chill off of their condo. Our lows were generally in the low teens.

Food and Water:

Make sure that you feed well in the wintertime as food helps make body heat. We normally doubled the amount of pig can worry about a diet come springtime. Try and make the last feeding in late afternoon.

Your pig MUST have water…it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside he still needs water. Snow is NOT considered an adequate supply of water and neither is ice. A pig would have to eat a bucketful of snow to get an adequate drink and their stomach isn’t made to hold that.

Some people give warm water in the winter...we don’t because the warm water will freeze faster than plain water will. I don’t know if they just seem like they do or if they really do, but our pigs seem to drink more in the winter than they do in the summer. Could be that they just enjoy the fact that we have more work to do in the bad weather and like to watch. Heated water bowls are nice, but keep an eye on them as some pigs will still dump them.

Potty Time:

Make sure your pig is going to the bathroom on a semi normal schedule. Some pigs will try to hold it and they can cause problems for themselves this way. Weather permitting they should go twice a day...once minimum. Constipation is more common in the winter months than in the summer. We add some Piggy Lax to the feed of all the older pigs just to make sure. Getting them up and walking to go potty also helps prevent constipation.