Rickets in Hogs

Comments and questions about red wattle health issues.

Rickets in Hogs

Postby earlyriser62 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:55 pm

We got a phone call this morning from a RW owner who has had several hogs go down with brittle bones and spontaneous bone fractures. Unfortunately, these animals had to be destroyed. Brian and I spent some time on the net and looking through our hog books for clues/answers. This is what we found out:

According to Dirk van Loon in "Small Scale Pig Raising":

Vitamin D, Calcium and phosphorus deficiencies manifest in hogs as: " poor growth, rough coat, lameness, and relative enlargement of joins, head, shoulders and hips as the long bones fail to grow. Bones become soft, may fracture easily, and feet may knuckle under."
In adult hogs lack of adequate D, Calcium and phosphorus can result in fractures and posterior paralysis (this is caused by a cracked pelvis.) Both a decifiency in these nutrients and an improper balance among these nutrients may result in small litters and still born piglets.
Bones are 90% calcium and phosphorus.
According to van Loon:

The "recommended ratio fo phosphorus to calcium is 1:1 -1:1.5 by wt."

The author goes on the to point out: "Cereal grains supply phosphorus but are seriously lacking in calcium. Many of the leafy forage crops provide calcium- the legumes and lambs-quarters being good plant sources of this mineral."

Calcium/phosphorus deficiencies occur "frequently when attempts are mad to raise pigs on all-grain diets, mill "sweepings" or most types of garbage, whey or other rations that aren't supplemented with minerals"

The balance of these nutrients is just as important as availability. Plenty of Calcium and phosphorus but not enough Vit D and the pig can't make the best use of the calcium and phosphorus. So get your piggies outdoors in the sunshine! Alternativs sources of Vit D are: sun cured hay and fish oils.

Also, please check out the Merck Manual online at:

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index ... /90805.htm

http://www.thepigsite.com/pighealth/art ... 1/lameness

If you have any experience with this or have information that could help new hog owners, please, share your experience.


Dot & Brian Jordan
Kiss My Grass Farm
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Re: Rickets in Hogs

Postby MikeO » Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:11 pm

Sorry for the length of this but I'm trying to be as detailed as I can.

Well, I'm not sure if my little boar has Rickets, but he certainly looks the part. I thought there might be something wrong with him, but wasn't sure. One morning I went out and he won't get up on his back legs, he will drag himself while his legs are off to one side, or he will sit like a dog on his haunches. I can rub his back, sides, and legs and he seems to be in no pain; and he can still move his back legs, just not get up on them. I have posted a video here:
I have to apologizefor the crumby quality, but it is my Samsung Rugby, good phone, bad camera. There are a few vids there from 056 to 066.
Here is what we were told from a wife of an old vet. There are some breeds of pigs that have a "stress gene" Those are susceptible to this kind of reaction if they are subjected to a LOT of stress. They used to take white vinegar on a rag and let the pig breath in the vapors from it. Do this a few times throughout the day. It is supposed to relax their muscles and help recovery. Our much larger gilt was giving him a lot of greif over the last couple days, and he also go flipped into the hotwire for 20 seconds or so before he could get off. He became crazed about staying away from her. She was moved out of the large pen to the small one after that. When I gave him a "piggy massage" he felt plenty relaxed, but he was enjoying it I think. I noticed no wincing or reaction to pain, also I saw no noticeable improvement from this or the vinegar, but continue to administer, just in case it helps.
I read the links in the post above, and between them and a book we have called "Keeping Livestock Healthy" here are some other thoughts.
Signs I missed due to being a newbie: Walking with his back feet close together and an ever so slight 'wobble', along with a stiff gait. His back 'toes' were also pointed. He had been a bit constipated over the previous couple weeks, and I had tried a few things to try to remedy that, including: Gatorade to replentish electrolites, giving him some of the cane that grows along the fence of the road (lots of it here in S Texas, it's a menace but the pigs and cows love it). Plenty of water in his feed. (we have no grass for them due to the drought). Deworming meds. Bran cereal (yea, ok, you can laugh at me). I think I SHOULD have given him Metamucil, soon, to get rid of the constipation fast. I had seen him having a BM so I knew he was not blocked.
My new best guess as to what happend here, He was constipated from the dry feed I was feeding. However before that he was not even eating all that well. He ate even less while he was. I did notice him always trying to get leaves, and anything green. We had some milk that had soured and he got that with his feed for a couple days - that is what finally broke his consipation. He ate with the interest of a pig again; for a couple weeks. Then he was constipated AGAIN. and eating slow and not much. I think due to all the not eating he was not getting enough to eat and has become low on Calcium and Phophorous? Since the prepped feed should be balanced. So I looked up the highest food in Calcium and it turns out to be Dried Savory. So I made a ball out of a couple tablespoons of that and some butter, and put it in a large cane leaf and tried to get him to eat it, with minimal success, but some. He is still eating the cane leaves, some. I have to go out often and help him get a drink because even his front legs are weak, and he tends to fall into the water, or just not bother to get a drink. I fear he might not make it too much longer. Here is a link to a sampling of the pages of the book I have "Keeping Livestock Healthy" keep in mind this is an old version of the book, from 1942. If there is info that is wrong here I would be surprised, but there might be newer info somewhere. This version is hardback and 1276 pages compared to the new editions that are 356 pages, hmm. This file is about 10 megs:
Everyone seems to agree that green food is high in calcium and phosphorus which seems to be what he needs, I just don't know if it is too late to help him.
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Re: Rickets in Hogs

Postby texcl » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:47 am

I have a red wattle boar that had the exact same symptoms as described above. I have a very knowledgable vet who breeds heritage hog breeds and has worked in big confinement operations to boot so he knows his stuff. The vet said he hadn't seen anything quite like it and was worried it might be a rare bacterial swine meningitis, though the symptoms didn't match that exactly either. He gave the boar some antibiotics and 3 days worth of steroids. The next day all progression of the ailment had stopped but he was still very weak and could barely walk. The next day he was noticably better and day three he was 100%. The other hogs in with the boar never contracted it but the vet gave me antibiotics to administer as a preventative measure which I did. The pen was completely clean and had never had swine in it or any other animals since I had just built it and these were the first animals in it. hope this helps anyone else who ends up in the same boat, I do think either the antibiotics or steroids helped and possibly saved his life, he was really bad off for a while. One thing I didn't see anyone mention was a temperature, my boar had a low grade temp indicating an infection. Hr also had plenty of grass and we had been feeding them our excess greens from our produce farm ( which they love).
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