South Africa

Health Care

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How Do You Know If A Piglet Is Suffering From Iron-Deficiency Anaemia?

Subclinical iron deficiency often goes unnoticed because it is nearly impossible to diagnose through clinically observed symptoms only; however, full-scale iron-deficiency anaemia is detectable through clinical symptoms only, while the piglet’s health condition has often deteriorated quite severely before being noticed. Therefore, testing for blood haemoglobin levels allows practical and early detection of subclinical iron deficiency in piglets, allowing swine producers to administer additional supplemental injectable iron in order to treat the subclinical iron deficiency and virtually eliminate the development of full-scale iron-deficiency anaemia in piglets. Pen-side or laboratory evaluation of the haemoglobin level in a blood sample taken from a vein will indicate whether or not the piglets are suffering from subclinical or full-scale iron-deficiency anaemia.

First signs of anaemia:
  • Poor growth.
  • Paleness of the mucous membranes.
Signs of severe anaemia:
  • Listlessness (piglets are slow to move, appear to be tired and listless, and remain lying down).
  • Rough hair coat and wrinkled skin.
  • Laboured breathing; for example, piglets are virtually out of breath during weaning-day movement to the transport truck.
  • Increased heartrate.
  • Increased respiratory rate or spasmodic movement of the diaphragm muscles following minimal exercise; for example, piglets that are gasping for air after minor exertion, which is especially noticeable when walking the relatively short distance to a transport truck on weaning day to be moved to the nursery.

Once visual signs of anaemia are detected through clinically observed symptoms only, the immune-system status and the growth rates of piglets have already been adversely affected quite significantly.

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