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Sunburn

Background and history

This is a common condition in sows outdoors particularly in non pigmented breeds.

Ultra violet radiation not only damages the skin but also has an effect on the reproductive system and the maintenance of pregnancy.

Clinical signs

Piglets

  • Reddened skin.

Sows

  • Reddened skin.
  • Blistering.
  • Wet dermatitis.
  • Pigs show pain / discomfort.
  • Illness.
  • Reabsorption of embryos.
  • Irregular returns.
  • Abortions.
  • Will not accept boar at mating.

Weaners and growers

  • Reddened skin.
  • Blistering.
  • Wet dermatitis.
  • Pigs show pain / discomfort.
  • Illness.

Diagnosis

This is by the clinical signs.

Causes

  • Non pigmented breeding stock.
  • Lack of shades.
  • Lack of wallows.
  • Poor maintenance of wallows.
  • Brassica tops e.g. turnips, parsnips may predispose.

Prevention

Outdoor housing

  • Provide access to plenty of shade – artificial (larger arcs and canopies) or natural (trees/woodland). Uninsulated aluminium or bright galvanised steel are perfect for constructing artificial shade canopies.
  • Paint arc roof white and/or cover in branches or foliage to reflect light.
  • During periods where water use is not restricted, use sprinkler systems around housing and create wallows.
  • Apply sunscreen where mud baths and shade cannot be provided.

Treatment

  1. Use a cool, wet towel on the neck and back of a pig and change the towel regularly to ensure it is having the desired cooling effect.
  2. Consider putting diluted vinegar on the skin as it evaporates quickly, removing heat. Once cooler wash off the vinegar if you wish.
  3. Dribble cold water into the rectum of the affected animal using a flutter valve.
  4. Feed electrolyte rebalancing solutions to seriously affected pigs.

One top tip: Do not use cold or freezing water to cool pigs down if doing so directly – use tepid water as the shock of cold water has been known to kill pigs.