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Thin Sow Syndrome

The thin sow syndrome develops over a period of months and one or two pregnancy cycles, with gradual declining body condition until 10 to 30% of the animals have a condition score of 1 or 2. During lactation the sow is unable to maintain her body condition due to an insufficient intake of energy combined with increasing milk output. This process continues over successive lactations.

In sows kept permanently outdoors the stockman should ensure that all the sows have a high body score before the start of cold weather.


Piglets, Weaners & Growers
  • N/A
  • Thin emaciated sows.
  • Body condition decreases with each successive pregnancy.
  • Infertility.
  • Anoestrus.
  • Abortions
  • Cystitis - blood in urine.

Causes / Contributing factors

The syndrome arises due to:

  • Inadequate nutrition.
  • Poor quality feeds.
  • Damp floors or draughts will increase the energy requirement of the dry sow.
  • Fluctuating temperatures.
  • It is exacerbated in sows kept outdoors in cold weather.
  • Heavy worm burdens.
  • Specific diseases e.g. cystitis.
  • Poor management.


This is by clinical signs. Select at least twelve faeces samples from thin sows. Submit them to a laboratory for examination to eliminate parasites and blood (from gastric ulcers). Eliminate specific individual diseases such as kidney infections and chronic infections.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to find out more about this disease, including treatment, management control and prevention information. The top link is the main article on this disease.