<%@LANGUAGE="JavaScript1.3"%> Swine Production Management - Farrowing - Teeth Clipping of Piglets

Teeth Clipping of Piglets


  • To reduce the risk of discomfort to the sow's udder which may lead to piglet starvation, overlaying or savaging.
  • To prevent facial damage to litter mates.
Facial necrosis in a
14 day old piglet
Udder damage through piglets fighting over the teats
  • Poor teeth clipping is a major cause of joint ill.
  • There is a lot of evidence that not teeth clipping has no production disadvantage and may even enhance growth of weak or large litters.


  1. New teeth clippers should be purchased as soon as the old pair show signs of wear. Ideally replace every 6 months. Depends on the size of the unit

  2. There should be two teeth clippers on a unit/farm.  One should be in disinfectant the other in use

  3. The teeth clippers must be kept clean at all times and must be cleaned between litters and then dipped in fresh surgical spirit or alcohol

  4. Clean alcohol must be used each day the clippers are in operation

  5. After use the clippers should be cleaned in hot soapy water using a tooth brush to clean the blades and the handle

  6. The clippers should then be placed in surgical spirit for 10 minutes

  7. Store dry within a plastic bag to stop any dust getting on them

  8. Do not sterilize by boiling as this will blunt the clippers

  9. Grinding the top 1-2 mm of eye teeth instead of clipping may be less painful to the piglet and may also reduce damage to mouths. It may not be as effective at reducing damage to litter mates and sow.

  10. Grinding can be more time consuming than clipping until you are familiar with the equipment get training

Prior to teeth clipping:
  1. The clippers should be checked to ensure that they are suitable for removal of the eye teeth

  2. The blades must meet evenly, they must not cross

  3. When placed to the light, light must not be seen to come through the blades

  4. There must be a straight cut

Dirty teeth clippers Blades do not
meet due to wear
Damage to the blades



  1. Teeth clipping must be carried out in the first 2 days of life, or 3 days for weak or sickly piglets. Teeth clipping is advised on any fostered piglet

  2. Wash hands before teeth clipping

  3. Piglets of low birth weight (i.e. less than 1 kg) may be better left with their teeth intact.

  4. Pick up the piglet by one hind leg above the hock.

  5. Dip the finger which goes into the piglets mouth in iodine or other suitable disinfectant

  6. Support the animal between the body and forearm and insert a finger into the corner of its mouth to open the jaw.

  7. Cut each tooth as close to the gum as possible and remove all debris from the mouth.

  8. Care should be taken to ensure that neither tongue nor gum are cut, and that the gum is clean.

  9. Keep the clipper clean and dip in antiseptic between each piglet.

  10. Return piglets to the sow as soon as possible.

Other considerations:



  • Handling the piglets with confidence tends to reduce both stockperson and animal stress.

  • It is important to confine the pigs being treated in as warm, dry and clean an area as possible.

  • The playing of a radio can help to settle the sows and piglets

  • Good farrowing pen hygiene and an effective cleansing program will reduce the incidence of infection of wounds.

  • Always wash your hands before docking.

  • If outdoors, consider your safety and work in pairs. A lactating sow with her litter can be very dangerous

Consequences of poor teeth clipping:
Sharp tooth remaining Infection of the gums Skin infection spreading to the nose