Pig farming

How can we control Post Weaning Diarrhoea?

After weaning there is a high incidence of diarrhoea, often referred to as Post Weaning Diarrhoea (PWD). This is due to a combination of reasons:

  • The stress of weaning makes intestines more “leaky” letting toxins in and leaking fluid out.
  • The change in food from a mostly milk to a cereal based diet can make the guts inflamed.
  • Only 50% of pigs eat within 24 hours of weaning and 10% do not eat for more than 48 hours after weaning.
  • When a pig doesn’t eat the gut’s movement slows meaning any food in them can stagnate which can cause bad bacteria in the gut to multiply and cause diarrhoea.
  • If pigs get cold their gut movement also slows and the above can occur.
  • The acid in the stomach, which should kill any dangerous bacteria the pig eats, becomes quite neutral after weaning as the lactic acid from the milk diet is suddenly removed.

We have been using antibiotics and zinc in creep diets to try and prevent PWD. But now we are being pushed to reduce our antibiotic use, and zinc will be banned in feed from 2021, what can we do to help control PWD?

  • Minimise stress during weaning.
  • Make sure weaned piglets don’t get chilled; the laying area should be around 28°C.
  • Encourage creep intake before weaning to get the gut used to cereal based diets.
  • Provide creep and water in multiple ways in weaner accommodation: different feeders, troughs, or even as a gruel (take care with hygiene if feeding a gruel).
  • Weaning environment must be spotlessly clean, including floors, walls, water sources and feeders.
  • Consider water acidification.
  • Consider addition of pre or probiotics to the diet.

If you do see signs of PWD, or mortality in your post weaning pigs, it is always important to contact your veterinary surgeon, as in some cases treatment may be needed.

For further information please contact please contact Zoetis UK Limited, First Floor, Birchwood Building, Springfield Drive, Leatherhead KT22 7LP. www.zoetis.co.uk. Customer Support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). Date of preparation: September 2020. MM-10502