This disease primarily affects breeding age sows. The key clinical signs include heavy panting; reactive to external stimuli; fits and convulsions.
calendar icon 14 November 2018
clock icon 6 minute read

Background and history

This is an uncommon condition caused by low levels of calcium in the blood stream (hypoglycaemia). It may occur at any stage but is most likely within seven days either side of farrowing. Occasionally seen pre-farrowing but normally during lactation.

Clinical signs

  • Sudden in onset.
  • The sow becomes distressed.
  • Panting heavily.
  • Trembles and shakes.
  • Fits and convulsions.
  • Reactive to external stimuli, both touch and sound.
  • Death often results unless there is prompt treatment.


This is based on the sudden onset and the clinical signs presented but it can be confused with the porcine stress syndrome (PSS). The response to calcium injections if given early enough help to differentiate. Most animals with PSS die regardless of treatment.


  • Loss of calcium in the colostrum.
  • Shortage of calcium in the diet.
  • Failure of uptake of sufficient calcium.
  • Heavy milking sows.


  • This involves giving up to 100mls of 40 percent calcium boroglucinate by injection.
  • Ideally the injection should be given intravenously but this can be difficult.
  • Alternatively, 25mls should be given by intramuscular injection at four separate sites in the neck. The muscles in the rump can also be used.
  • Cool the sow by spraying with cold water.

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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