Farmers can cut on sow mastitis treatment costs by clipping piglet teeth on the first day after birth.
Clipping involves ‘cutting’ or blunting of the eight teeth to get rid of the sharp pointed ends. Piglets are born with needlelike teeth, which can injure the udder of the mother during suckling.
“Wounds predispose the mothers to diseases like mastitis. With the wounds, the sow rejects the piglets by kicking them when they try to suckle because of the pain,” Bernard Nyaramba, a Kakamega County pig farmer.
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Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary glands resulting from entry of bacterial and other disease causing agents into the udder. Pathogens are picked from the environment.
Severe attack can lead to starvation and death of the piglets.
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Besides the rejection from the sows, inflammation of the mammary glands means no production of milk, a condition known as agalactia.
Although treatment costs vary according to the intensity of the infection, lasting damage to the udder many not be reversed in severe cases.
At the same time, the pathogens may cause other infections to the piglets besides spreading to other sows in the sty. The piglets may also injure one another as they scramble for the teats. They use them as weapons.
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“Front teas tend to have more milk, whose quantity drops to the rear ones. Piglets have a tendency of establishing ownership of teats. They use the sharp teeth to defend the teats against invasion from ‘siblings’,” Nyaramba said.
The process can be done by the farmer or a veterinarian. The bottom line is care should be taken to avoid injuring the gums.
PHOTO: Piglets suckling from their mother. Tooth clipping on the first day stops cases of sow mastitis. PHOTO BY www.resources.teachnet.ie.