Gastric ulcers

Gastric ulcers are usual and are characterized by anemic pigs, pallid and with bloody feces.

Information

Stomach mucosa erosion and ulceration is a very common condition in all pigs. It is produced in the area where the esophagus enters the stomach. In the first stage of the disease, this area turns rough and gradually changes as the surface erodes until it ulcers. This can originate intermittent hemorrhages that end up in anemia or massive bleeding that can cause death. Incidence can be lower to 5% in sows and up to 90% in growing pigs. 

Symptoms

Depend on the severity of the condition.

In the less acute disease:

  • Pale skin.
  • Weakness.
  • Teeth grinding due to stomachache.
  • Dark feces with digested blood.
  • Do not eat.
  • Vomiting.
  • Shrinked abdomen.

In the most acute disease.       

  • Animals that looked healthy are found death and very pale.


Causes / Contributing Factors

Usually there is more than one cause. It can include nutritional factors, physical properties of the feed, management deficiencies that result in stress, and infections.

  • Low protein diets.
  • Low fiber diets. Use of straw reduces de incidence.
  • High energy diets.
  • Wheat levels higher to 55%.
  • Vitamin E or selenium deficiencies.
  • High copper levels in the diet, especially when they have low zinc levels.
  • High unsaturated fat levels in the feed.
  • Diet particle size (< 400 µm): the most grinded the diet is, the smaller the particle size, which increases ulcers incidence.
  • Excessive aggression between sows.
  • Increase of animal density and pigs movement.
  • Deficient sow management in crates, and tied sows.
  • Annoying sound in the farrowing area.
  • Irregular feeding patters and lack of feeder space.
  • Hunger periods.
  • Low availability of water and feed.
  • Transportation.
  • Environmental temperature variations.
  • Breed. More frequent in certain genotypes.
  • There is a relationship between pneumonia outbreaks (especially influenza) and the incidence of gastric ulcers. 


Diagnosis

It can be based on the clinical signs and post mortem lesions. Feces samples can be examined to search for digested blood or parasites.

Gastric ulcers can be confused with porcine hemorrhagic enteropathy (hemorrhagic bowel syndrome), which normally affects gilts, because it also reduces massive intestinal hemorrhage and anemia. Anemia can also be associated to swine eperitrozoonosis, Hyostrongylus rubidus, chronic mange and nutritional deficiencies.



Control/Prevention

  • Move affected animals to a pen with straw bedding, do not tie them and offer a quiet environment.
  • Supply a high fiber diet, which contains very digestible ingredients.
  • Inject multivitamins, especially vitamin E.
  • Evaluate which of the previously mentioned factors should be controlled, especially particle size.
  • Separate severely affected old animals from the herd.
  • Prevent respiratory infections, especially influenza.
  • Make sure animals always have fresh feed available. 

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