- news, features, articles and disease information for the swine industry

ThePigSite Pig Health


(621) "Colitis" means inflammation of the large bowel and it is very common in some countries in growing pigs. It is characterised by sloppy "cow pat" type faeces, with no blood and little if any mucus but the condition may progress to severe diarrhoea. Affected pigs are usually 6 to 12 weeks of age and in any one group, up to 50% of the population may be affected. It is not seen in adult or sucking pigs.

A number of organisms have been implicated but spirochetes and in particular Brachyspira pilosicoli, an organism distinct from a similar one that causes swine dysentery, is thought to be important. Colitis may also be associated with E.coli, coccidiosis, Clostridium perfringens type A, Brachyspira hyodysenteriae and salmonella infections. However dietary factors also precipitate disease and pelleted feed is much more likely to be associated with the disease than meal. If the incriminating pellets are ground back to meal colitis still results, demonstrating an effect of the pelleting process. Certain components in the feed are also implicated including poor quality oils and carbohydrates, specific ones have not been identified but may include anti trypsin factors and oligosaccarides.

Clinical signs

These usually appear in rapidly growing pigs from 8 to 14 weeks old, fed ad lib on high density diets. The early signs are sloppy faeces but with pigs appearing clinically normal. As the disease and its severity progress, a very watery diarrhoea, with dehydration, loss of condition and poor growth become evident in the pigs. During the affected period daily gain and food conversion can be severely affected, with feed conversion worsening by up to 0.2.


This is based on clinical signs and the elimination of other causes of diarrhoea, in particular swine dysentery. Faeces 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 in the clinical syndrome. If the herd has a severe problem examination of the terminal parts of the small intestine in pigs at slaughter would be advised together with PCR tests on faeces.


  • Antibiotic therapy is not always successful because it depends on the presence of primary or secondary bacteria, but the following medicines have given responses on problem farms, using in-feed medication.
      - Dimetridazole- 200 g / tonne if available
      - Lincomycin - 110 g/ tonne
      - Monensin - 100 g / tonne if available
      - Oxytetracycline - 400 g / tonne
      - Salinomycin - 60 g / tonne
      - Tiamulin - 100 g / tonne
      - Tylosin - 100 g / tonne
      - Valnemulin 25 75g / tonne
  • For the individual pig daily injections of either tiamulin, lincomycin, tylosin or oxytetracycline may be beneficial
  • Weaned pigs are often fed zinc for the first two weeks post-weaning to prevent E. coli enteritis. Colitis may develop in the 2 to 3 weeks following its removal from the diet. The response to continuing zinc oxide in the feed at 2 to 3kg per tonne should be considered.
Management control and prevention
  • Disease is seen in pigs that are growing well on ad lib feeding and often it is associated with a change of diet.
  • It is more common with diets high in energy and protein (14.5MJ DE/kg 21% protein). It 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 common when fat sprayed diets are fed, try diets without.
  • Mortality is low but morbidity can be high, ranging from 5 to 50%. Adopt all-in all-out management of pens.
  • The same diet can be used on two separate farms and disease only appear on one, suggesting inherent causes.
  • The presence of certain types of bacteria in the large bowel such as Brachyspira pilosicoli obviously play a part in the disease. Use preventive medication in feed to control Brachyspira pilosicoli
  • It is uncommon on home milled cereal based diets.
  • The response to treatment can be variable.
  • Control consists of assessing the above key factors, which would include changing the diet formulation (less added fats), changing the source of feed, acidifying the diet and improving pen hygiene. A change from pellets to meal feeding is usually effective. The following anti colitis diet fed as a meal has been effective.
      - Wheat 50%
      - Barley 11%
      - Full fat soya 15%
      - Fish meal 7.5%
      - Hypro soya 6.5%
      - Sharps (wheat by-product) 5%
      - Skim milk 2.5%
      - Vitamin lysine mineral supplement 2.5%
      - Protein 24%
      - DE 14.6
      - Lysine 1.35

Share This

Managing Pig Health - 5m Books

Pig Identification - 5m FarmSupplies

Our Sponsors


Seasonal Picks

Animal Welfare Science, Husbandry and Ethics: The Evolving Story of Our Relationship with Farm Animals - 5m Books