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"Colitis" means inflammation of the large bowel. It is common in some countries in growing pigs and is characterised by diarrhoea. It is uncommon in home milled cereal based diets.

Affected pigs are usually 6 to 14 weeks of age and in any one group, up to 50% may be affected. It is not seen in adult or sucking pigs. Colitis may be seen in individual sows. A number of organisms have been implicated but Brachyspira pilosicoli, an organism distinct from the one that causes swine dysentery, is thought to be important.


Sows & Piglets
  • N/A
Weaners & Growers
  • Usually appear in rapidly growing pigs from 6 to 14 weeks old fed ad lib on high density diets.
The early signs:
  • Sloppy "cow pat" type faeces, with no blood and little if any mucus.
  • Pigs appearing otherwise normal but lose bloom and growth.
As the disease and its severity progress:
  • Watery diarrhoea.
  • Dehydration.
  • Loss of condition.
  • Poor growth.
During the affected period:
  • Daily gain and food conversion can be severely affected, with feed conversion worsening by up to 0.2.
  • Mortality is low but morbidity can be high, ranging from 5 to 50%.

Causes / Contributing factors

  • Dietary factors. Disease is experienced using all types of diets but particularly those that have been pelleted rather than fed as a meal. It is thought that the pelleting process may have an effect on fats in the diet and thereby initiate digestive disturbances in the large bowel.
  • It is more common with diets high in energy and protein (14.5MJ DE/kg 21% protein).
  • Certain components in the feed may also be implicated, such as high levels of wheat.
  • It is common when fat sprayed diets are fed.
  • Continual production predisposes.


This is based on clinical signs and the elimination of other causes of diarrhoea, in particular swine dysentery. Faecal examinations in the laboratory are necessary to assist with diagnosis together with post-mortem examinations and laboratory tests on a typical untreated pig. It is possible that porcine enteropathy may be involved.

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.