Practice tip

January and February, 1998

Blood testing nursery pigs

I have recently devised a new way to blood test nursery pigs. Previously, I bled with the pig cradled and on its back, but with this method my vacutainer needle often became plugged. Recently, I have been bleeding with the pig hanging upside down (Figure 1). The pig should be held as you would if you were going to castrate it. If the piglet is small enough, someone can also hold the right front leg back while you hold the head down, allowing better access to the vein. On bigger pigs, I hold the leg back myself, and pigs don't thrash around as much. Properly restraining a piglet during bleeding is very important because if the pig wiggles too much you can cause extensive damage to the vein.

--submitted by Mark M. Engesser, DVM
Stacyville, Iowa