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Vitamin E Deficiency And Iron Toxicity

See chapter 14 for further information.

(390) Iron toxicity occurs when the sow is deficient in vitamin E and piglets are born as a consequence with low levels. The routine iron dextran injections become toxic and cause severe muscle reactions at the injection sites. Vitamin E deficiency in the sow occurs when fats in the diet become rancid or cereals or corn have fermented and spoiled and the vitamin E is destroyed.

Clinical signs

Two to four hours after injection most of the litter become acutely lame on the legs that have received the iron. the muscles are swollen and the piglets develop heavy breathing and look pale. Death occurs within 24 hours. At post-mortem the muscles are coagulated and appear like fish tissue due to necrosis of the muscle fibres.


This is based upon the history of deaths within 24 hours of iron injections and swollen muscles at the site of the injections.


  • Inject sows due to farrow over the next 3 weeks with a vitamin E selenium preparation.
  • Alternatively use water soluble vitamin E.
  • Inject all litters for a 3 week period with vitamin E or dose by mouth at least 2 days before iron injections are given.
Management control and prevention
  • Clean out the cereals at the bottom of the storage bins.
  • Assess cereals and corn for spoilage.
  • Supplement the sow feed with 150g/tonne vitamin E.

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