Diseases of the farrowing period


The female – sow and gilt





Common, require drainage.  Can be very large – 10 litres plus


The lack of milk production can be due to many causes – ergot as one is shown

Atrophic rhinitis

Adults carry the causal organism.  Distortion will be life long



Atresia ani

Uncommon, but may be discovered in gilts at point of farrow.

Aujeszky’s Disease

Pseudorabies, may be non clinical in adults.  Reproductive problems

Clostridial disease

Clostridium novyi results in severe hepatic degeneration with sudden death and gas bubbles in the liver


Common condition, associated with poor water supply training and nutritional problems

Cystitis and pyelonephritis

A common cause of death in adult sows.  Catarrhal haemorrhagic cystitis, ureterovesical necrosis and active chronic pyelonephritis associated with chronic urinary reflux. 


Uncommon – sow presents with heavy rapid breathing pre and post farrowing


Sudden death, particularly multiple deaths at any stage of production.  H2S is a differential


May be found at post-mortem – not cause of death but will reduce reproductive efficiency


Sudden death.  Acute cases present with diamond lesions on skin, chronic – arthritis - endocarditis


Associated with osteroporosis or acute trauma, more typical immediately post-weaning

Fat sow

A fat sow is a medical problem, she will not eat and look after her piglets as well as a fit sow

Feet problems

Often present in the farrowing house as the feet can be easily examined

Gastric ulcer

Common.  Occurs after period of not eating, cause of anaemia, abdominal pain, sudden death


Differential from an abscess, swelling full of fluid.

Jaw and snout deformities

Common associated with poorly designed accommodation

Intestinal Torsions

Abdominal disasters – torsion of stomach, spleen, small and large intestine and liver lobes are common causes of sudden death in the sow.  Review feeding routines


In gilts and young sows a common differential cause of unresponsive thin sows

Mammary development

Many sows have poor mammary development – associated with poor water supply, feed intake or fostering routines.  Ensure sufficient piglets are suckling to stimulate milk flow. Note ergot - hyoplasia


Common.  Infestation results in chronic irritation for the sows and boars

Mastitis – acute

Acute mastitis affects sows at the point of farrowing – Enterobacteriae common cause

Mastitis – chronic

Generally occurs at or after weaning more often associated with Actinobacter  pyogenes


Common – generally fatal associated with retained placenta or piglets


Numerous causes, perforation of the intestines by foreign bodies


Pneumonia uncommon in adults, can be a cause of sudden death

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea

Causes severe diarrhea in adults and in Asia severe mortality

Porcine Parvovirus

SMEDI virus – stillborn, mummified, embryonic death and infertility.


Early farrowing and production of weak pre-mature piglets


Porcine Stress Syndrome

Sudden death, Pietrains (shown) particularly sensitive

Prolapse of the bladder

Uncommon.  Generally results in death.

Prolapse of the rectum

Common.  Requires fixation.  Review flooring

Prolapse of the uterus

Uncommon, generally results in the death of the sow

Prolapse of the vagina and cervix

Common, review flooring


Uncommon in adults.  S. cholerae suis can kill adults

Savaging of piglets

Common in gilts farrowing together.  Reduce stress at farrowing

Shoulder sores     

Common, particularly in thin sows from the farrowing house

Skin lesions

Associated with trauma – rough paint on crate.  Above caused  by nesting behaviour

Swine dysentery

Uncommon,  but in an outbreak can kill adult sows

Swine influenza

Common.  Sneezing, nasal discharges and abortions

Thin sow syndrome

Many reasons, poor feed management and bullying

Teat disorders

Congenital and acquired – blind teats for example. Common, associated with poor flooring and overgrown sharp toes.  Watch teeth clipping and milk availability

Thin sow

Poor feeding in gestation.  Also note leukaemia as a cause.


Abdominal disasters – torsion of stomach, spleen, small and large intestine and liver lobes are common causes of sudden death in the sow.  Review feeding routines

Udder oedema

Seen pre-farrowing.  Post-farrowing reduce milk availability.  Review gestation feeding

Vulva oedema

Can become very large.  Can haemorrhage if traumatized.

Vomiting sow

Common – often of no real consequence, review food hygiene also not TGE and PED

Vulva Haematoma

Can be very large and can cause death if no rupture

Vulval discharge

Normal, but note metritis and sick sow

Worms and parasites

May increase in periparturient period – Ascaris suum shown