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Hypoglycaemia - Low Blood Sugar Level

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Piglet in early stages of Hypoglycaemia, lying on its belly, shivering, hair stood on end and dehydrated.
(371) The newborn piglet can be born with low glycogen reserves in the liver and during the first few days of life it is unable to mobilise this 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 to maintain its energy output, the body temperature drops and it ultimately goes into a coma and dies.

Clinical signs

These progress from an animal laid on its belly, shivering and becoming very cold to eventually lying on its side, paddling, frothing at the mouth and becoming comatosed. The eyes are sunken and the head bent backwards.


Hypoglycaemia occurs in the first 12-24 hours of birth and the clinical picture is characterised by the symptoms. Examine the eyes to see that there is no evidence of lateral movements (nystagmus) which would indicate meningitis.


  • The condition must be recognised early if treatment is to be successful.
  • Immediately remove the piglet to a warm draught free environment to achieve 30ÂșC. A box well bedded in shavings with an infra-red lamp above is ideal.
  • Feed the piglet with sow or alternatively cows colostrum or 20% dextrose solution by syringe or stomach tube every 20 minutes until it has returned to normal. Then introduce the piglet to a newly farrowed sow.
Management control and prevention
  • Identify potential piglets at birth and treat as describe under Poor viable piglets in the Stillborn Piglets section in chapter 8.
  • The following table provides a background to piglets with poor viability

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