News and knowhow for farmers

Teeth clipping key in controlling mastitis in pigs

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. 

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