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Hypoglycaemia is the term for low blood sugar level. During the first few days of life the newborn piglet is unable to mobilise the low glycogen reserves in the liver to provide adequate levels of glucose in the blood. It is therefore dependent for energy on a regular intake of lactose from the sows milk. If a piglet cannot obtain sufficient lactose to maintain its energy output, it runs out of energy, its body temperature drops and ultimately it goes into a coma and dies.

Hypoglycaemia usually occurs in the first 12-24 hours of birth.


Sows, Weaners & Growers
  • N/A
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Piglet with Hypoglycaemia
  • Laid on belly.
  • Shivering.
  • Becoming very cold.
  • Starvation.
  • Paddling.
  • Fits and convulsions.
  • Frothing at the mouth - salivation.
  • Comatosed.
  • Eyes are sunken and the head bent backwards due to dehydration.
  • High mortality.

Causes / Contributing factors

  • Low level of sugar in the blood.
  • No milk - starvation.
  • Severe chilling.
  • Wet pens.
  • Low viable piglets.


This is based on the clinical signs. Examine the eyes to see that there is no evidence of rapid back and fore lateral movements which would indicate meningitis not hypoglycaemia.

Diseases associated with Hypoglycaemia

The following diseases can give rise to hypoglycaemia in piglets.
  • Clostridial Diseases
  • Congenital Tremour
  • Diahorrea - acute e.coli infections
  • Low birth rate / poor maturity
  • Mastitis, no milk, no colostrum
  • Navel Bleeding
  • Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS)
  • Pseudorabies / Aujesky's disease
  • Splay leg
  • Transmissible Gastro Enteritis (TGE)

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.