Practice tip

November and December, 1998

Help with prepuce and navel sucking

If prepuce and navel sucking is a problem in your clients' herds, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Do the pigs travel to the nursery (trucking) or are they at the same site?
  • What is the protocol for pigs placed? How is feed delivered to pigs?
  • What is the water source?

We stress to our personnel that they need to aggressively feed and water pigs newly placed in the nursery. For instance, we place small bits of paper or cardboard in the nipple of nipple waterers to slow the drip of water. The paper will eventually dissolve, and this seems to help the pigs recognize where the water source is. We have also used small pan waterers underneath the nipples in pens of small pigs to provide additional help finding the water source.

For feeding, we place mats by the feeders and provide a prestarter diet for at least the first 3-7 days after pigs are placed in the nursery. Diets are adjusted by weight and are fed accordingly. We will feed the pigs on the mats up to 4 times daily to get pigs on feed. For smaller pigs, we will make a small amount of gruel in a pan to help encourage better appetites. We make the gruel fresh 3-4 times a day and rinse the pans between each feeding. Feedings of gruel are tapered down each day until pigs are eating out of their feeders.

This protocol does work well in both two- and three-site production systems. While this does not eliminate the prepuce/navel sucking, it does reduce it to a much more manageable level.

--submitted by Dr. Lisa Becton, Princeton, Missouri