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6 steps to preventing piglet diarrhoea

Diarrhoea in the first days of life can easily kill a piglet, so protecting new-born animals from illness-causing bacteria is key to ensuring long term health and welfare of a swine herd.

So-called “bad bacteria” such as Escherichia coli and Clostridium perfringens finding their way into piglets’ guts is one of the biggest concerns for young animals, writes Zoetis’ UK veterinary manager Laura Hancox.

Born without bacteria in their gut, piglets get gut bacteria from suckling the sow and snuffling around the floor, making it easy for them to pick up bad bacteria if surfaces aren’t clean.

Preventing illness is always better than curing it, so keeping the farrowing environment clean and vaccinating sows against E. coli and C. perfringens helps provide protection for piglets.

Being cold can trigger diarrhea, so it is also important to make sure piglets are never chilled, Hancox said.

Farm staff should also remember that they can spread diarrhea-causing bacteria, so they should avoid stepping between pens without taking steps to clean footwear.

Finally, she urges producers to discuss the most appropriate vaccine to administer with their veterinarians and review regularly.

6 steps to preventing piglet diarrhoea:

  1. Keep the farrowing environment extremely clean
  2. Keep sows clean and remove faeces
  3. Vaccinate sows against E col and Clostridium perfringens
  4. Give piglets enough colostrum and milk
  5. Keep piglet lying areas draft-free and warm (around 32°C)
  6. Don’t let staff or equipment spread bad bacteria

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